March 22, 2006
Jacksonville, FL – The top-ranked Seminoles won their 14th straight game versus Jacksonville Wednesday night with a 4-1 victory. The Dolphins (19-7) held the Seminoles to just five hits, the lowest total since February 24, but timely hitting and strong pitching performances from Barret Browning, Brent Marsh and Luke Tucker preserved the victory. With the win No. 1 FSU moved to 22-2 on the season and Browning upped his record to 5-0. Tucker picked up his fifth save of the year.
“I was very pleased with the way Barret Browning threw,” said FSU Head Coach Mike Martin. “The relief work of Brent Marsh and Luke Tucker was big as well. Jacksonville is a very impressive club. They are much different than what I saw the last couple of years. I take my hat off to (JU coach) Terry Alexander and his outstanding Dolphin team.”
Browning had his second impressive start in a row. He extended his scoreless inning streak to 12 1/3 innings before giving up a run in the sixth. He walked three batters and struck out three going 5 1/3 in getting the win.
“I felt good from the beginning, I was hitting my spots early with my fastball and my breaking ball was good,” said Browning of his outing. “I was keeping everything low in the zone. When they hit it the ball was on the ground in the infield. Towards the end of the game I kind of lost my fastball a little bit. They guys played very good behind me but I have come to expect that since they do that every game.”
When Browning did lose his fastball in the sixth, Marsh was there to pick him up. The senior had his longest outing of the season as he went 2 2/3 and allowed just one hit. He came into the game with the bases loaded and one out with the potential lead run at the plate. The senior got FSU out of the inning unscathed setting up Tucker for the save two innings later.
“Yesterday I worked hard in the bullpen on trying to keep the ball low in the zone,” said Marsh. “Coming into the game today I had a couple of rough outings. Today I came in and tried not to overdo it. I told myself to just do what I can and it worked out for me.”
The Seminoles broke open a 1-0 game with a three-run fourth inning. Mark Gildea plated what turned out to be the game-winning run and Ryan Strauss’ two-run, bases loaded double gave FSU the insurance runs they needed. It was the seventh game in which Strauss has recorded a hit since taking over the starting job in left field eight games ago. In that span he has 11 hits and five RBIs.
“I have been wanting to play and now I am getting that opportunity,” said Strauss. “It is a lot of fun and I am just thankful for my chance.”
Buster Posey got the Seminoles started in the second as he drew a walk off JU starter Kyle DeVries (2-1). Posey swiped second and an error on the throw down allowed the freshman to move up to third. Thomas then drove the run in on a deep sac fly to right field.
FSU recorded its first hit of the game in the third as Shane Robinson lined a shot into center field. A walk to Jack Rye put two on with two away. After a pitching change, D.J. Ackley’s first pitch got past the catcher moving both runners into scoring position but the Jacksonville hurler got the Dolphins out of the jam with no damage done.
A passed ball on a third strike allowed JU to put its second runner of the night on base. A sac bunt moved the runner into scoring position. Browning got his second out of the inning on another strikeout, his third of the game, and then ended the potential threat on a fly ball out.
FSU was back in business in the top of the fourth. The third walk of the game put Ryne Malone on base. Posey bunted for a base hit, on what seemed to be a sacrifice attempt, and then a hit by pitch loaded the bases with nobody out. Ackley got the first out of the inning on a K but Gildea, playing in his first game of the month after a hamstring injury, delivered with an RBI single into shallow center. Strauss came up and delivered as well with a two-run bloop double that just landed inside the left field line bumping the Seminole lead to 4-0.
“I was just looking for a pitch I could get up in the air and drive in a run,” said Strauss. “I was fortunate enough that the ball dropped in and I got a double.”
The Dolphins got their first hit of the night on a soft chopper down the third baseline in the bottom of the fourth but Browning didn’t allow JU to cash in on the infield single.
“I felt real good,” said Browning of holding JU hitless through three innings before the infield single. “I guess that’s what coach has been trying to get through my head that it doesn’t matter how hard you throw if you put the ball where you are supposed to put it. Those infield hits happen sometimes.”
JU tried to put on a two-out rally in the fifth. The second hit of the game was a blooper into right field. Then a high pop fly just behind the pitcher’s mound landed in front of a charging Posey for the second hit of the frame. Browning then lost the next batter on a 3-2 pitch before a grounder to second ended the threat.
In the bottom of the sixth the first two JU batters singled and then Browning loaded the bases hitting the next batter. Browning got the next batter on a fly ball to left but he lost the shutout as his third walk of the night plated the first run of the game for JU. That ended the night for Browning and brought Marsh into the game looking to preserve the FSU lead. The senior struck out the first hitter he faced for the second out of the inning and then ended the JU threat on a high fly ball to Robinson in center field.
“Brent has a good head on his shoulders,” said Martin. “He knows the homerun he gave up (last time out) was wind aided. Those things you don’t even think about you just get ready to go the next time you are called on and he was.”
Florida State returns home to continue conference play this weekend versus Duke (8-18, 1-5). The first game is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. and will be broadcast live by SUN Sports. Saturday’s game is at 6:00 p.m. as well and the series will conclude Sunday with a noon start. Game Tracker will be available for every game this season along with a live radio broadcasts available on WFLA locally and free on the Internet at seminoles.com.