March 6, 2005
Hilo, HI – Before Saturday’s game between the eighth-ranked Seminole baseball team and the University of Hawaii-Hilo, Seminole head coach Mike Martin called the Vulcans the best 1-23 team in America. Saturday Hilo did nothing to change that perception. The Vulcans (1-24) pounded out 18 hits, the most allowed by the Seminoles in 2005, but stranded 19 runners as FSU squeezed out a 6-4 win in 12 innings. Tyler Chambliss (4-0) picked up the win after pitching 3 1/3 and UHH’s Danny Vitro (0-1) took the loss in relief. Jack Rye had the game-winning pinch hit in the top of the 12th as FSU extended its season-best winning streak to nine games.
“We really battled hard,” said senior captain Aaron Cheesman who threw out two base runners and caught all 12 innings. “All year up to know we have just seemed to find a way to win close games. We rolled through some tough calls today offensively and defensively and found a way to win finally.”
Seminole starter Barret Browning pitched 5 1/3 and struck out a FSU season-high 11 batters but did not factor into the decision. Five Seminole pitchers combined to allow just two earned runs and struck out 18 batters. They issued just five walks but it was Chambliss who continues to be a force. He allowed three hits, an unearned run and one walk while striking out five in the victory.
“I felt pretty good out there today,” said Chambliss. “By the time I got out there the hill was a little tough to adjust to but after that I just tried to pitch my game. It has been awhile since I threw that many innings. Probably versus Georgia Tech at the ACC Championships last year and that was right before I took over the closer role.”
“Tyler was throwing strikes and keeping their hitters off balance,” said Cheesman. “It wasn’t good for us that he had to pitch as much as he did today but it was very important. You have to play one game at a time and win each game you play. He did a heck of a job of that today.”
Only one Seminole had a multi-hit game and that was All-American candidate Shane Robinson who extended his hitting streak to 23 games. He was also one of five players to record an RBI on the day versus Vulcan starter Matson. Rye’s game-winning hit was the third time this season the freshman has won a game for FSU at the plate.
“Coach called on me and I am just trying to contribute as much as I can,” said Rye. “I faced that pitcher last night and he was just going at me all outside so that was my approach, to go up there and take it the other way. That is what I did. Pinch hitting is tough but I was ready to go.”
Browning got off to a rocky start in the first for FSU. After retiring the first two batters, a walk and two hit batters loaded the bases but the junior got A.J. Satele looking at strike three to end the threat.
The Vulcans started the second with a hit but they couldn’t move the runner past second as Browning struck out the side giving him a season-high five K’s through just two innings. Matson was matching Browning though by striking out the side in the second and then his fourth straight batter in the third before giving FSU its first base runner of the day on a walk to Tony Thomas, Jr. Robinson followed with another free pass and it looked as if Gibbs Chapman would add to his team-leading RBI total but his liner to right was snared for the second out. Cheesman came up next and broke up the no-hitter while putting FSU in front 1-0 on a single to center field.
Hilo looked to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. After Browning’s sixth K, back-to-back singles put runners on the corners for UHH. Browning’s seventh strikeout almost ended the rally but a two-out base hit to right evened the game at 1-1. The final out came on the eighth K for the junior leftie.
Brant Peacher led off the fourth with a single followed by back-to-back deep fly balls to right. Ruairi O’Connor then singled putting runners on the corners as the Seminoles tried to start a two-out rally. A walk to Thomas loaded the bases bringing up Robinson who was still looking for his first hit of the day. The sophomore was close to poking a grounder up the middle but the Hilo second baseman was just able to pick up the shot and flip it to second for the force out ending the threat.
Vulcan Michael Higa sent a slow dribbler down the third base line to lead off the fifth and then an attempted sac bunt turned into a base hit as Hilo was in business with runners on first and second. A sac bunt by the Vulcan clean-up hitter moved both runners into scoring position. An intentional walk loaded the bases before Browning’s 10th K brought him one batter closer to preserving the tie and his 11th strikeout ended the inning as he became the first Seminole hurler since Trent Peterson in 2003 to strikeout 10 or more batters in a game.
Matson needed just seven pitches to get through the top of the sixth as he set the Seminoles down in order. Hilo then opened their half of the frame with a base hit marking the second straight inning they recorded a lead-off knock. A ground out moved the runner to second before Kevin Lynch came in to relieve Browning. He retired the first batter he faced on a pop up and then issued an intentional walk to bring up David Chu who was 2-for-2 on the day with a walk. The left fielder made FSU pay with an RBI single to right that bounced past O’Connor clearing the bases and leaving Chu at third. Lynch got FSU out of the inning but not before falling behind 3-1.
O’Connor led off the seventh with a hit by pitch and a Thomas walk put the Seminoles back in business. Robinson followed with a smash to short that bounced over the Hilo players shoulder to extend his hitting streak and cutting the lead to 3-2. A Chapman ground out scored Thomas from third to tie the contest.
The Vulcans led off another inning with hit in the seventh off new FSU pitcher Mark Sauls; it was the first appearance for Sauls since February 4. UHH tried to sac the runner over but the Seminole infield charged on the pitch. The bunt was popped up and over a charging Bryan Henry for another UHH hit. Just like the fifth, the next batter laid down the sac bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Sauls got the next batter to pop up to second and ended the inning with a K as UHH stranded its 11th and 12th batters of the game.
The bottom of the eighth got off to an eerily familiar start with a single, for the fourth straight inning, and another bunt single that was intended to be a sacrifice. That brought Chu to the plate looking to bunt despite going 3-for-3 with a walk and an RBI single. After Sauls got off to an 0-2 start, Chu was forced to swing away and it proved costly for UHH as he flew out to new right fielder Brandon Manasa and he turned it into a double play catching the runner at first off the bag. An intentional walk followed and then a single was driven to right where Manasa was patrolling. The junior, who made a great play on the double play, gunned out the runner from second trying to score to end the inning.
“The contribution Brandon made today was great,” said FSU head coach Mike Martin. “He is always been there when we needed him to pitch, catch, and play the infield or the outfield. In one inning he amassed more outfield assists than anyone on our team and that double play was huge.”
“I don’t get to play much so when I do I just try to go out there and do anything I can to help the team,” said Manasa. “It is exciting to be able to go out there and make a play. I haven’t really played in the outfield since high school except for on a couple of occasions as a freshman so I feel fortunate that I was able to help us win today.”
The Garnet & Gold looked as if they were putting a two-out rally together in the bottom of the ninth when Chapman drilled a ball to the base of the wall 353 away down the right field line and ended up on third after the right fielder bobbled the ball. Cheesman followed by ripping a ball to third that just got picked off by the third baseman to end the inning.
New FSU pitcher Trent Jarvis got the first out of the 10th on a strikeout looking but an infield single to short put the winning run on first. A botched hit and run cut the runner down as Cheesman easily threw him out at second. The play really backed fired when a double, that would have plated the winning run put another Vulcan runner in scoring position. That brought Pro Line Cap National Pitcher of the Week Chambliss into the game. The sophomore came in and retired the side sending FSU into extra innings for the first time in 2005.
For the first time since the fourth, FSU led off an inning with a hit as Ryne Malone singled through the left side. Pinch hitter Josh Spivey recorded FSU’s first pinch hit of the year on an infield single to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Henry laid down a perfect sac bunt to move the runners around and then Jernigan broke the tie with a beautiful bunt single on a safety squeeze.
Hilo looked to stay alive in the bottom of the tenth with their 16th hit of the game, a one out infield single. The Seminoles second error of the game, an errant throw on a grounder, put runners on the corners with one away. The Vulcans then tied the game on a single to right that moved the winning run just 90 feet from home. Chambliss got the second out on a strikeout swinging and then ended the 10th on a ground out to second.
Thomas led off the 11th with a solid single into right and Robinson followed with a high chopper through the left side. The hit brought new pitcher Vitro into the game. He replaced Kyler Wartman. Chapman stepped in to sac but an errant throw to second on a failed pick off attempt ended with the same result as both runners moved up a base. After an intentional walk to Cheesman, the catcher’s second of the game, Malone laced a shot to third that third baseman Johnny Dudoit once again snagged and then just stepped on third to turn the double play and end the threat.
“If it wasn’t for their third baseman, this game would have been done an hour earlier,” said Cheesman. “He made a couple of great plays.”
Danny Wardell led off the 12th by grounding out but a walk and wild pitch put Henry in scoring position. A second walk brought in Eddie Guiterrez, the fourth pitcher for Hilo, as he tried to preserve the tie but the first batter he faced was pinch hitter Rye who singled home FSU’s fifth run of the day. The Seminoles went up 6-4 on a delayed steal of home after Rye was thrown out at second.
Chambliss then closed out the 12th giving up just one hit and striking out two batters.
The Seminoles return to action Saturday, March 6 back with another game in Kona, Hawaii for a doubleheader versus Hawaii Hilo. The games are slated for a 7:00 p.m. start in Tallahassee and both games will be seven inning affairs. Freshman All-American Brian Schultz (0-0, 3.86 ERA) is scheduled to start game one and Hunter Jones (2-0, 2.45 ERA) is expected to pitch the second. Game Tracker will be available for all the contests in Hawaii along with Steve Melewski’s live radio broadcasts available on WFLA locally and on the Internet at seminoles.com.
Due to the time difference, seminoles.com will be the best place to find game stories from the Hawaii trip as soon as the action ends on top of photo galleries both on and off the field. There is only one place to follow the Seminoles as they trek through Hawaii and that is the official website of the Florida State Department of Athletics.