TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Three days after getting one-hit for the second time this season, the Florida State (3-2) bats erupted for 15 hits in Friday afternoon’s 16-3 win over Samford (2-2) on Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium. Junior Rhett Aplin finished the day 4-for-5 and just a triple shy of FSU’s first cycle since 2010; Dylan Busby had four RBI, including three on a towering home run in his first at-bat; and freshman Nick Derr added three more hits to his season total and leads FSU with eight on the year.
“I saw a ballclub, from the very beginning…approach the game in a manner that makes me as a Seminole proud,” head coach Mike Martin said. “To get nine runs in the first two innings was aggressive, intelligent. I was proud of our approach tonight.”
The sizzling FSU bats were helped on the mound by sophomore Cole Sands (2-0), who threw five innings of three-hit ball, allowing just two runs and striking out a career-high-tying six. For Sands, it was the first series-opening start of his career.
“He didn’t go through the motions,” Martin said of Sands. “He threw 74 pitches; we wanted him to go 90, but the fact he was coming back a day early (from pitching on Saturday) it worked perfectly. Both of his off-speed pitches were effective.”
“I don’t try to make it any different,” Sands said. “I go out there and compete and play my game.”
Junior Taylor Walls was walked on each of his first three at-bats, the 19th-straight game he has safely reached base, just one off his career-high of 20 straight games last season. Walls scored the first of his two runs on Quincy Nieporte’s RBI single in the first inning; Cal Raleigh scored on Aplin’s RBI double that bounced high over the first baseman’s head; and Busby’s first home run of the season made the score 5-0 FSU after the opening frame.
Sands allowed his two runs in the second inning, when Kevin Williams, Jr., hit his third home run of the season off the leftfield scoreboard. Williams hit a second home run in the seventh inning and was responsible for all three scores for the Bulldogs. They were the first home runs allowed by the Seminoles this season.
The Noles responded with four more runs in the second inning, beginning with freshman J.C. Flowers’ leadoff opposite-field home run, the first of his career. The second of Walls’ three walks was followed by quick outs by Jackson Lueck and Raleigh. After a Nieporte walk, Aplin poked an RBI single to right field, followed by Busby’s second hit of the evening, an RBI single to centerfield. FSU’s fourth run of the inning came on a single from Derr to right field, scoring Aplin, but Derr was thrown out trying to advance on a throwing error by pitcher Jesse McCord (0-1).
The Bulldogs replaced McCord in the fourth with Connor Radcliff, and the Noles tagged Radcliff with five earned runs without recording an out. Aplin hit a two-run home run, leaving him a triple shy of FSU’s first cycle since 2010. Four consecutive walks or HBPs scored another run and set up Walls’ sacrifice fly. Lueck’s RBI single to left field capped the scoring for the inning.
The Florida State bullpen, in its first game after allowing four runs in the ninth inning against USF, had three pitchers make the first appearances of their careers: Grant Stewart (one hit, two strikeouts); Brandon Reitz (one hit, one run allowed, two strikeouts); and Clayton Kwiatkowski (one hit). All three threw one inning on the mound.
Senior Will Zirzow closed out the game on the mound with a pair of strikeouts, including the final out of the game to pinch hitter Grant Colton.
In total, Florida State played 21 players, including seven freshmen. Aplin and Derr were the only starters to finish in the batting order. FSU struck out 12 Samford batters and walked only three, while FSU walked 12 times and struck out only six times. As a team, FSU has walked four more times than it has struck out on the year (35-31).
Raleigh remained perfect against baserunners on the season, throwing out T.J. Dixon in the top of the first inning after he singled to open the game. Raleigh has thrown out both attempted base stealers on the year.
Kyle Cavanaugh, a junior college transfer from Tallahassee Community College, recorded the first two hits of his Florida State career in relief of Nieporte.
Dixon (three hits), Williams (two home runs) and Branden Fryman had all six of Samford’s hits. FSU hit .450 (9-of-20) with runners in scoring position.
Florida State and Samford return to the diamond Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Fans can watch the game live on ACC Network Extra (formerly ESPN3) or listen live on the radio in Tallahassee on 106.1 FM or anywhere through the FSU GameDay App.
For more information on Florida State baseball, check Seminoles.com for the latest news and scheduling information, or keep up with the team on social media through Twitter (@FSUBaseball), Facebook (/FSUBaseball), and Instagram (@NoleBaseball).