June 17, 2014 - by

Seminoles righthander Chris
Chavez gives you his pitch.

An exclusive look back at the Seminoles’ College World Series run and the 1999 season.

Monday, June 21

Fifth-year senior FSU pitcher Chris Chavez was named to the All-CWS team after pitching masterfully in three games. The ‘Noles made it to the championship game Saturday only to fall to in-state rivals Miami, 6-5.

I couldn’t believe Blair Varnes (who suffered what was thought to be a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago) was making the start on Saturday. When coach told me he was going to pitch, I was just shocked. It’s as gutsy a performance as I’ve ever seen in my life. The kid showed a lot of heart.

I thought we had a chance to come back in the ninth Saturday. They just got the best of us. The umpires were the worst I’ve ever seen. The behind-the-plate ump’s calls were really upsetting. Varnes had Miami’s Kevin Brown worked to a 1-2 count in the fifth. Then he throws an inside fastball that was a strike, but the ump called it a ball. I’m mean they showed it over and over on TV and it was a strike. He would have struck him out, but then on the next pitch Brown hits a double that scores three runs. That call changed the whole game. But you can’t blame the umps for everything.

After pitching a complete game on Wednesday, Chavez came in for an inning of work against Stanford on Friday.

I went in the bullpen and started to warm up. I told the coaches if they needed me, I was ready. I got their righty out, John Gall, who had already hit a grand slam that game. Then we intentionally walked the next guy. Josh Hochgesang was their next guy up. I worked him to a 1-1 count. Then I laid a slider right up over the plate, and he hit it well. I thought that I’m going to go from being the hero to the goat.

I really thought that we used up all of our emotion in that Stanford game. In some ways that was our championship game.

Seminole Karl Jernigan hit a game winning homer in the 13th inning Friday to get a 14-11 victory for the ‘Noles over Stanford.

Our whole team stepped it up in Omaha. You’ve got Jernigan hitting the blast on Friday. Then Ryan Barthelemy, Nick Stocks, Blair Varnes, myself, Matty Diaz, Marshall McDougall and Jon McDonald all step it up. It was just a great team performance. Kevin Cash, Brett Groves and Jeremiah Klosterman played great as well.

McDougall just beat me out for the Most Outstanding Player at Omaha. Had I come in against Stanford and shut them down, I think I would have gotten it. But at least it was a teammate who won it. They gave him a 70-pound replica trophy of the statue that is in front of Rosenblatt Stadium. They didn’t give us anything for being named to the All-CWS team.

I might have played better than I expected to. Whenever I play in Omaha, I dominate. My freshman year I made three appearances over nine innings and only gave up two runs. This year I did even better.

The only thing this season that was a letdown was the Miami series. I’m mean we lost to them by just one run so many times. I’d rather go down 13-0 than lose the way we did. That’s just frustrating. Our team this year showed more guts and heart than I’ve seen in my five years here.

Ending my career at FSU is tough. Today I went in, cleaned out my locker and took down my name plate that’s been there for five years. It was very emotional and tough. You never know if this is going to be it. The last five years have been the best of my life so far. It’s going to be tough to beat.

Chavez Keeps ‘Noles Alive With Complete Game Win

Thursday, June 17

FSU pitcher Chris Chavez gives FANSonly his exclusive account a day after he threw a complete game win against Cal St.-Fullerton to keep the Seminoles alive in the College World Series. Florida St. meets Stanford tonight at 8:30 EDT. The ‘Noles must beat the Cardinal twice to advance to the CWS title game on Saturday.

“I was so mentally prepared for the start on Tuesday night though. I tried to get ahead of the batters early but they scored a run off us in the first. We came back and scored some runs. I was focused on keeping us in the game. I didn’t have my stuff like I did against Texas A&M Saturday, but I was hitting my spots.

Chavez got the win against Texas A&M Saturday after coming in during the fifth inning and shutting the Aggies down for the rest of the game.

My defense was playing behind me. I couldn’t say enough about how they played last night.

My mom got real emotional last night. She just lost it. She realized that this could be my last game. As far as me pitching in the rest of the series, I may be able to go in on Saturday, if we get there. My arm feels great now but there’s no way I’ll throw today or tomorrow. I iced it up, had a light workout today and did some swimming. The arm feels fine.

If I can throw in relief on Saturday, I’ll let the coaches know. I can’t sit there and let us lose if I’ve got a chance to come in and shut the door.

We’re pitching Nick Stocks tonight and he’s possessed. He’s a man on a mission. Stanford’s throwing their No. 3 man and we’re throwing our No. 1 man. If we can come out and win today, we’ll be able to put it in the back of their minds that maybe the game they beat us was just a fluke. Stocks is focused like I’ve haven’t seen him in a long time. If he throws his A game and gets run support, we’ll win.”

Chavez Connection Archives

‘Noles in Must Win Situation

Tuesday, June 16

FSU pitcher Chris Chavez provides FANSonly his insight on the ‘Noles must win situation hours before they take on Cal St.-Fullerton. Chavez will get the start Wednesday after coming off a stellar performance against Texas A&M Saturday. The game gets underway at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

Chavez spoke to FANSonly after waking from a nap.

“Yeah, I’m kinda sick, but I’ve gotta get up soon. We’ve got a game in a couple hours, and I’ve got the start.

Saturday was pretty exciting. I came in with the bases loaded and no outs. I was just trying to get the first guy to hit a ground ball so we could turn two. I ended up striking out the side. I was pumped.

On Monday, the ‘Noles suffered a 10-6 loss to Stanford. If FSU doesn’t win today, they will be eliminated from the College World Series

The mood on Monday was good because we jumped out to an early lead. Then we fell down and they jumped out to a 4-1 lead, and we couldn’t catch (Stanford) from there. We should be able to win a game when you score six runs.

We gotta put that behind us now. USC lost early last year and came back to win the whole thing. We can do it, but we gotta win today. Then beat Stanford twice.

I went up to coach and told him I wanted to throw today. I match-up well against Cal State, and I don’t match-up well against Stanford since they’ve got a lot of lefties. We’ve gotta be on our toes today.

The weather is better today. It’s still cloudy. It’s supposed to be cool tonight. In the low 50s and 40s. We’ll probably put on some long sleeves.

We’re still using the Omaha dirt to rub on our bats for good luck. We’re going to keep doing it.

As far as looking down the road to the championship game, honestly, we’re not thinking about it much now. Some guys on the team mentioned meeting Alabama or Miami in the final, but now we’re just hoping to get there.”

Seminole Baseball on the Way to Omaha

Monday, June 7

FSU pitcher Chris Chavez joins FANSonly yet again to offer his inside look at Seminole baseball on the way to Omaha. The ‘Noles leave Tuesday to head to the college baseball mecca of Omaha. FSU plays Texas A&M on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The game will be televised nationally on CBS.

“We’ve got a tough one facing Texas A&M on Saturday. It’s on CBS so that’s going to be awesome. They’ve got a great team. They’re going to be throwing their ace, Casey Fossum, so it’s going to be tough. Everybody’s good now. There are no scrub teams anymore.

Last Saturday against Auburn, we were down 3-2 going into to the ninth. I was sitting in the bullpen. They were only going to put me in the game if we had a lead going into the ninth because, if we didn’t have the lead, they wanted to save me for Sunday’s game.

Well, when we got runners on at first and third, I told our pitching coach Jamey Shouppe that I was going in regardless. And coach Shouppe gives me this look like, “Who does he think he is?”. We scored four runs in the ninth and were up 6-3. I came in, struck the first two batters out, walked the third and got the fourth batter to fly out.

It was a big mob on the field. Everybody was jumping on everybody. Pitcher Nick Stocks had to get X-rays on his jaw because it was all swollen after getting knocked around in the pile-on. We even lost pitcher Blair Varnes for the season after he tore his ACL in the pile-on. Another guy got a cut on his leg. We really beat ourselves up in the pile. We talked about having a small one, but then, with the come-from-behind win, we couldn’t control ourselves.

Chris Chavez was taken in the 27th round by the Atlanta Braves with the 834th overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft last week.

It’s awesome. After the season finishes up, I’m headed to Jamestown, New York, to play Single-A ball in the Penn League. I thought I might go sooner (in the draft) but, growing up, I always wanted to play for FSU in college and the Braves professionally. It’d be unbelievable if I could make it all the way. Getting picked by the Braves tells me that they think I’d fit in well to their system, which is a confidence booster because of the pitching talent there. I also have a lot to live up to though.

We leave tomorrow for Omaha. Stocks will start the first game, Jon McDonald will start the second and I’ll come in whenever they need me.

As far as superstitions, the team’s got a good one going now that started in the regionals. When we lost at Omaha last year, pitcher Mike DiBlasi got a cup and scooped up some dirt from one of the baselines. When he got back, he put it in a bottle and stuck some tape on it that said ‘Omaha’. Well, when our regional began, he sprinkled a little bit into everybody’s batting helmets. And when hitters have needed to get a hit, they’ve got some Omaha dirt and rubbed it on their bats. So far it’s worked. We haven’t lost.”

‘Noles prepare to host Auburn in the Super Regionals

Monday, May 31

Florida State pitcher Chris Chavez joins us for the fourth installment of the Chavez Connection as the ‘Noles prepare to host Auburn in the Super Regionals on Friday. The right-handed hurler thinks things could get interesting in the stands because of the off-season football controversy of Auburn cancelling a scheduled football game with FSU.

“Before our first game in the Regionals, against The Citadel, we were a
little concerned because we had struggled in the ACC tournament (where the
Seminoles didn’t reach the championship game
) and we just weren’t hitting the ball. The Citadel was throwing their best pitcher at us (starter Rodney Hancock, who had thrown a
two-hitter with 20 strikeouts in his last outing and hurled a no-hitter in his
previous start
). We were thinking, ‘Oh man, we could be in trouble.’ Then, they scored five runs in the first, but for some reason the mood of the
team didn’t get down. We stayed up and went on to score 24 runs.

I think the difference in our outlook between the Regionals and the ACC
tournament was being back at home. In the ACC tournament we were on the road
for 12 days straight, and this was our first time back at home in four or
five weeks. And we realized this could be our last time in front of our home

The only game that was close was against Jacksonville. I came in when it
was 3-2 in the 7th and just wanted to keep it close. We exploded for six more runs
in the last two innings and that made it look less close than it was.

(Chavez pitched the last three innings of that game, giving up no hits, one walk
and five strikeouts to earn the save.
) I really did feel good. This being my
last year — and not knowing if I’d get a chance to play at home again — I just
wanted to play well. I came out fired up and had a real good outing.

This being my final year does make a difference. You’re into it a lot more
than you’d think. You’d think your mood wouldn’t change from the previous
years, but I’m more excited, more into the games. Your adrenaline flows a
lot more. That extra pump is working well for me – in the past that’s been
my enemy. I’d come out too excited, but now I’m coming out feeling good and
throwing a lot of strikes.

We were kind of concerned about the rain delays. In the Jacksonville game
it kind of got us worried, because (starting pitcher) Nick (Stocks) had
already warmed up and had already been pitching and then he had to sit down.
But he came out throwing a great game.

We’re very excited about hosting the Super Regionals. To get that here is
gonna be big. These games are probably going to set attendance records with
everything that happened with football with Auburn. (The Auburn football
program touched off a controversy earlier this year when they cancelled this
year’s game with Florida State, leaving the Seminoles scrambling to find an
opponent suitable for television. The incident followed a season when Terry
Bowden, son of Seminoles football coaching legend Bobby Bowden, resigned as
Auburn head coach
). We’re gonna be excited to see who’s going to be coming
out to these games. I definitely think that controversy creates a bigger
rivalry – not with the players, but with the fans.

We already have a big rivalry with them. Last year we beat them in the Regionals, and the year
before they beat us in the Regionals. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. But with
the fans it could get ugly.

Auburn has a great ball club. We respect them a lot. They have real good
pitching and hitting, so we’ll see. We don’t mind having this extra round
of playoffs (The NCAA baseball tournament expanded to 64 teams this year,
creating an extra round
). We figured it would work out better for us because
our pitching is so deep. We figured if we could get past the Regionals,
which we did, then we get to where we only use our first three starters,
who are tremendous. We feel, as a team, there isn’t anybody that can go out
and beat us 2 out of 3. Granted, Miami did that to us twice. But we didn’t
lose another series like that the whole year.

We’re just relaxing with an off day today (Monday), everybody’s calling
everybody, ‘You heard who’s hosting who?’ Everybody’s just relaxing by
pools. Then Tuesday and Wednesday we start to go at it and prepare for

Tallahassee Hosts NCAA regional Action

Monday, May 24

Chris Chavez joins us for the third time as the Seminoles are preparing to host a regional in the NCAA Baseball Tournament (May 28-30).

The right-handed pitcher and native Floridian was recently named to the coaches’ All-ACC team, and, after getting a save against Georgia Tech in an ACC Tournament game, Yellow Jackets coach Danny Hall said Chavez “might be as good a reliever as there is in college baseball.” But later in the tournament, Chavez was called on, unexpectedly, to start against Clemson and gave up five runs in four innnings as FSU was eliminated from the tourney.

We couldn’t hit. Our offense fell apart. I found out an hour before the game against Clemson that I’m going to pitch.

First, I thought Mike Smalley was going to pitch. Throughout my whole career, I’ve pitched really well against Clemson. Well, they end up matching six lefties against me, which took away from me being able to pitch side-arm. It was bad luck. I wasn’t there mentally. Usually you know at least a day before, if you’re going to start. You try to visualize the game. You psyche yourself up. You prepare for a duel. Whereas in relief, you just perform. The adrenaline gets you through.

We practiced today (Monday). We’re glad to be back home. I think that had something to do with our performance in the ACC Tournament. We were gone for 11 days (Editor’s note: Before the ACC tourney, the Noles played a weekend series against Duke and stayed in Durham for the entire next week because of the tournament). Living out of a suitcase for that long wears on you. But that part of the season’s over.

Now it’s like another season starting. None of those games meant anything. Yeah, we could’ve gotten the No. 1 seed but I’m pretty sure it’s been awhile since the No. 1 seed won it all in Omaha.

Our first game of our regional is against the Citadel. We beat them earlier in the year, but we didn’t face their ace. This time they’ll be pitching him. He’s like 5-foot-9 and throws 95 miles per hour. We also have Jacksonville in our bracket. When we played them earlier in the season, their two aces were hurt so we didn’t see them. But you can bet we’ll be seeing one of them. And then you’ve got Providence in our bracket. After this year, they’re getting rid of baseball as a sport there, so you know they’ll be out to prove something. This is a very hard bracket. People might think it’s easy, but I disagree.

The starting pitchers for the games will be (redshirt freshman righthander) Blair Varnes in the first game, (sophomore righthander) Nick Stocks in the second game and (sophomore righthander) Jon McDonald in the third game. Now the new season begins. We gotta be thinking “big picture” and getting back to Omaha.

With the draft coming up (a week from Wednesday), we’ve been seeing some scouts. At the ACC Tournament, they were out there when I was pitching against Georgia Tech. I was on that game. (Chavez retired eight consecutive batters in 2-2/3 innings and got the save). I’m pretty sure my last pitch was clocked at 92 miles an hour. That was my problem last year. I thought about the scouts being in the stands too much. This year I’m just playing baseball and having fun. This is my last year here, so I’m going to enjoy it. I’ve had a great five years here at FSU. To win it all at Omaha would be a great way to end my career. Then I could hang up my spikes and say, ‘I’ve done all I wanted to do.'”

Bring on the ACC Tournament

Monday, May 17

FSU senior pitcher Chris Chavez joins us for the second installment of the Chavez Connection on the eve of the Noles first game in this week’s ACC Tournament. Come back throughout the week for the righty’s take on the Seminoles’ run through the ACC Tourney.

“Honestly, we don’t have a preference for who we face (in the Wednesday 1:30 EDT game against the winner of Tuesday’s Duke vs. Maryland game). We’re pitching (Jon) McDonald and he’s pitched really well against Maryland. But Duke’s never seen him.

The pitching order for the tournament will be Blair Varnes, Nick Stocks, Mike Smalley and then it’s up for grabs. If we win Wednesday, we’ll play the winner of the Carolina/Georgia Tech game next.

I could end up throwing in three or four games this weekend. It just all depends on the situation in the game. If we get there, coach told me I’d get to start the ACC Championship game. It’s not because I’m a senior or anything like that. I’ve been in that situation before. I’ve pitched in two championship games. Somebody’s got to get the job done.

It’s hard to tell who we could face in the championship game, if we get there. Wake Forest, Carolina or Clemson could easily make it. If I had to pick, I’d say Wake. They’re pitching really well and hitting really well. But some of the guys on the team are saying Carolina or Clemson.

But now we’re just getting geared up to play. We practiced an hour today at the Durham field then headed over to Duke’s field to finish it up. Yesterday we worked out at NC State, just lifted a couple weights and did some cardio.

In our off time, we’ve been playing some Wiffle Ball. You just don’t throw the ball very hard, so you won’t injure yourself before the games. Mike DiBlasi’s really good. He’s been bombing the ball. We’ve been playing in the hotel parking lots. We just mark off what’s foul and what isn’t and go from there.

We were all pretty excited to learn that we’d be hosting a NCAA regional again, but the first thing we gotta do is play well this week. It’s not written in stone that you get a No. 1 seed if you’re hosting a regional. As far as the Northern schools saying they didn’t get enough regional host sites, who wants to go up north to play where it’s a little colder and the facilities are not as good? Notre Dame and Ohio State are hosting, so they should have no complaints. If they don’t get to Omaha, it’s their own fault. We just want to get back there.”

Front Row Seat to College Baseball History

Sunday, May 9

Florida State senior pitcher Chris Chavez gives his account from the dugout of Marshall McDougall’s record-breaking six homer, 16 RBI performance. Seminoles win 26-2. Chavez will provide FANSonly.com his inside look at FSU’s run to the College World Series periodically through season’s end.

“(McDougall’s accomplishment) was phenomenal.

In the eighth, he had already hit four out. Marshall was in the hole. John-Ford Griffin, who’s a freshman and a kind of corny kid, was on deck. Ford looks over and says, ‘I’ll wear one just to get him up again.’

What do you know? Ford gets hit in the arm to bring Marshall up. Ford just looks over to the dugout and gives us a smile.

Then, Marshall gets up and fouls the first two off. It didn’t look like he was going to hit one out because he was so far out in front of the ball. But there were four of us in the dugout that said, ‘He’s going to hit this one out.’ And then he connected with the next pitch. He hit that fifth one so far.

Then in the ninth inning, he steps up again. We all had no idea he was going to get a chance to go for number six. Three people had to get on base in the ninth for Marshall to get up and they did. When he hit that last one, we were all saying, ‘Holy Cow!’ He hit that last one to center.

I can’t believe it. Every flight we were on during the way home, the pilot would come on and first say, ‘We have the FSU baseball team on board who swept Maryland, and we’d like to congratulate Marshall McDougall — who hit six home runs in one game, breaking a NCAA record.’ Then everybody on the plane would go nuts and start clapping. We were walking through the airport in Atlanta and we’d look up on the TV and see a CNN highlight about him.

Maryland has a small field. If we’d have been playing at our park or any place else, Marshall would have hit four. I’ve seen some great offensive performances at FSU in my five years here, like: (former Seminoles star and current St. Louis Cardinal) J.D. Drew hitting three home runs in one game in the College World Series (1995 vs. Southern Cal), (current FSU outfielder) Matty Diaz hitting four against Oklahoma (in 1998 NCAA Regional), Marshall hitting three against Miami this year and then what he did Sunday.

Who knows? Maybe next weekend against Duke, Marshall will hit seven. If we sweep Duke, we’ll finish with the best winning percentage in the ACC ever. (Editor’s note: Florida State’s conference record as of Monday, May 10 was 19-2. The Noles last won 19 ACC games in 1996 when they finished 19-5. The ACC record for victories in a season in 20, set by Clemson in 1994 and 1995.)

But Duke won’t want to finish last in the conference, so they’ll be ready.

I was sitting on the grass with (FSU assistant) Mike Martin. Jr., and he leans over to me and tells me he’s dizzy from all this. Then he says, ‘You know what? Marshall McDougall just made a farce of the game of baseball. He made a farce of the game of baseball.’

This has never been done before. He set a record that probably will never be broken again.”

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