TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State’s Taylor Walls notched the first multi-home run game of his career, including a game-tying two-run blast for the sixth-ranked Seminoles (32-15) in the bottom of the ninth, but Florida Gulf Coast (22-25) capitalized on three runs in the top of the 10th to earn the 11-8 victory on Wednesday afternoon.
FGCU broke the tie in the top of the 10th when a failed pickoff attempt allowed Matt Reardon to move from first to third base. Jake Smith scored the runner from third on a sacrifice fly, giving the Eagles a 9-8 lead. Jake Noll collected his fourth hit of the afternoon, a single to left, before a two-run home run by Tyler Selesky made for the 11-8 decision.
Walls, who finished 2-for-4 from the plate with a pair of home runs and three runs scored, matched his season high in RBI (four). Meanwhile, Matt Henderson finished off the game by going 2-for-2 with three runs. The Seminoles’ offense also received contributions from Dylan Busby (1-4, HR) and Donovan Petrey (1-4), who drove in two RBI each.
“When I hit the home run in the ninth I knew it was gone,” said Walls. “I am not used to hitting a lot of home runs so my first instinct is to run. Once I hit that one I knew it was going to get out of the park.”
In his sixth start of the season, FSU’s Tyler Holton tossed five innings, allowed four earned runs and fanned six, tying his season-high. Alec Byrd came on in relief, yielding three hits and two earned runs while striking out four over three innings.
Tyler Warmoth (0-1) hurled the final two innings for the Noles, surrendering three earned runs and two hits among the 10 Eagle batters he faced.
Florida Gulf Coast’s offense came alive early in the first inning by scoring five runs on three hits, including a two-run single into left field by Gage Morey. Teammate Jake Noll followed with a solo home run to left field in the second inning, giving the Eagles a 6-0 advantage.
FSU put its first two runs across in the third when Henderson reached on a walk and Walls followed with his first home run of the day over the right field wall, trimming the deficit to 6-2.
The Seminoles picked up two more runs in the seventh when Petrey reached on an errant ball that trickled past first baseman Smith, advancing to third on the play. Busby then lifted a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall for his eighth home run of the season, making for a 6-4 contest.
“We did a tremendous job of fighting to get back into the ball game when we were six runs down,” said head coach Mike Martin. “I am very proud of our guys for fighting like that, but I am surprised that at some things we did that we haven’t done a lot of—most importantly, throwing away at-bats. However, Florida Gulf Coast did a great job and they got the key hits in the 10th inning.”
Jake Noll hit his second home run of the day in the eighth, pushing the Eagles lead back to four, 8-4, before two runs by FSU in the home half of the frame sliced the deficit in half.
A pair of walks by Henderson and Walls led off the eighth for the Noles. After back-to-back outs, Quincy Nieporte’s at-bat extended the frame when he was hit on the back to load the bases. Petrey followed with a single to centerfield, plating Henderson and Walls for the 8-6 contest.
The duo of Henderson and Walls delivered for FSU in the ninth inning when a two-out double to centerfield by Henderson breathed new life into the Seminoles’ offense. Walls hammered home his second home run of the day, also to right field, knotting the score at 8-8.
Florida State returns to ACC action this weekend when the Seminoles head to Durham, NC, for a three-game series with Duke. FSU will send sophomore Drew Carlton (6-2, 3.98) to the mound on Friday against the Blue Devils. The remainder of the weekend will include Cole Sands (Saturday) and Ed Voyles (Sunday).
Seminole fans can always stay up-to-date with the Florida State Baseball team by following the official twitter page of the Seminoles (@FSUBaseball).