May 30, 2004
SALEM, Va. (AP) – Florida State left nothing to chance this time, taking a big early lead and getting solid pitching from Mark Sauls to beat Georgia Tech 17-5 Sunday in the ACC tournament championship.
The victory completed a remarkable comeback for the Seminoles (42-20), who beat North Carolina on Saturday to make it to the championship round, then beat the Yellow Jackets a few hours later to force Sunday’s game.
Both victories Saturday were by 8-7 scores and were decided late, giving Florida State three of the record eight one-run victories in the tournament and a desire to avoid another with a bullpen short on arms.
Sauls did that, and the offense helped out by starting fast.
Florida State scored four times in the second inning and three times in the third, taking a 7-2 lead that took the pressure off Sauls (6-4), allowing him to throw strikes and let his defense do most of the work.
Pitching three days after he went five innings and threw 73 pitches against Duke, Sauls lasted six innings, allowing seven hits and five runs, only three earned, while walking one and striking out none.
He left leading 11-5. Matt DiBlasi finished for his second career save.
Aaron Cheesman had four hits and scored three times, Shane Robinson knocked in runs in his first three at-bats and Eddy Martinez-Esteve homered for the second consecutive game as the Seminoles had 20 hits.
Robinson, who was 11-for-26 with six RBI and also made several dazzling catches in centerfield, was selected MVP of the tournament.
After Georgia Tech scored twice in the bottom of the first on a double by Tyler Green and Micah Owings’ double-play grounder, the Seminoles scored the next 11 runs and scored in seven of the next eight innings.
Blake Wood (1-2), making only his fourth start of the season for the Yellow Jackets, allowed five runs in two-plus innings and got the loss.
The game was a mere formality as far as the NCAA tournament was concerned, as both schools were named as host sites for the regionals.
Florida State Seminoles – 2004 ACC Champions