April 1, 2006
Chapel Hill, NC – Seminole fans may have tried to forget March 28, 2004 but you can’t blame them if memories of FSU’s last trip to Chapel Hill came flooding back Saturday. Two years ago the Seminoles went into the sixth-inning tied 6-6 with UNC before five errors in the bottom of the inning clinched a series victory for the Heels as FSU committed 10 errors on the day. Saturday in Chapel Hill may have been even more heart-breaking. No. 1 FSU had a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth with two outs before a botched grounder and a dropped infield pop opened the door for a UNC victory. Tyler Chambliss suffered the loss in a brilliant performance on the mound as sixth-ranked UNC (23-5, 7-4) clinched the series win over No. 1 FSU (26-4, 8-3) with a walk-off 4-3 victory.
Chambliss was saddled with the loss despite going 8 2/3 and allowing only two earned runs. The junior threw just 108 pitches, struck out four and walked two. He seemed to have his second complete game in ACC play all but wrapped up before the errors were committed. The loss dropped Chambliss to 7-1 on the season as FSU suffered its first back-to-back losses of the year.
Florida State fought back from an early 1-0 deficit to take a 2-1 lead which the team held on to until the bottom of the sixth inning when UNC tied the game. All-American Shane Robinson put FSU right back in front in the seventh with an RBI single. In the ninth Chambliss seemed to zap any hope remaining in Boshamer Stadium as he got the first two batters he faced. Following a hard hit single to third that UNC’s Benji Johnson barely beat out, back-to-back errors on plays that would have ended the game gave North Carolina the chance to comeback and steal game two on a bases loaded single.
Despite a dominating performance, Carolina threatened Chambliss early on as Josh Horton laced a one-out double down the left field line. Chad Flack followed with a single to left putting Heels on the corners. Flack swiped second and Horton came home with the first run on a high throw as FSU attempted to catch the runner at second. Another single put runners on the corners again but a double play ball put an end to the first inning.
Ryne Malone led off the second by doubling down the right field line and then moved up a base on a deep fly ball to center field by Buster Posey. UNC starter Robert Woodard (3-1) plunked Tony Thomas, Jr. setting FSU up with runners on the corners and then Mark Gildea tied the game up with a sac fly to center field plating Malone. With two outs and Thomas going on the pitch, Ryan Strauss poked one into left field once again putting runners on first and third. Diaz cashed in as he singled through the left side giving FSU its first lead of the weekend. Florida State looked as if they were going to add to that lead as Robinson smoked a ball that seemed to be headed into the left field corner. Tar Heel third baseman Reid Fronk laid out and snared the ball saving a run and ending the FSU threat.
The Heels opened their half of the second just like FSU as Matt Spencer doubled but his shot was sent down the left field line. Spencer moved to third on a ground out and then Chambliss got out number two on a pop up to Posey. The freshman shortstop then put an end to the potential threat as he scooped up a grounder and fired to first leaving Spencer standing on third.
Thomas opened the fourth by drawing a walk off Woodard. After a strikeout, Fronk came back to haunt FSU again as Strauss laced a ball to third that Fronk went up to snare taking away another Seminole base hit.
FSU got a break to start the fifth inning as Robinson popped a ball up to short right field that was dropped by Matt Spencer putting the speedy center fielder on second with nobody out. Robinson took third on his 18th steal of the season but not before Woodard got two outs. The right-hander then got out of the inning on a liner to second base keeping the score 2-1 in favor of the Seminoles.
For the third time UNC put its lead runner on base as Fronk led off the sixth with a single to left but an attempted sac bunt resulted in Fronk getting forced out at second for the first out of the frame. The Heels got the runner into scoring position though as a four-ball walk, the first of the game for Chambliss put two on. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position as UNC threatened to even the game or re-take the lead for the first time since the first inning. A walk to Jay Cox loaded the bases bringing up Tim Federowicz who ended a potential Heel rally hitting into a double play in the first. The catcher came through this time though singling through the left side and evening the game at 2-2. Chambliss fanned his third batter of the day for the second out and then ended the inning as he caught Johnson looking at strike three leaving the bases loaded.
Strauss recorded his second straight multi-hit game as he led-off the top of the seventh with an infield single to short. Diaz sacrificed the runner into scoring position and then Robinson broke the tie driving the run home. The All-American lined a ball just over the glove of UNC shortstop Josh Horton plating Strauss.
Chambliss needed just five pitches to close down the Heels in the eighth and then got a scare to start the ninth as Federowicz sent a shot to the warning track that Robinson caught just in front of the wall for the first out. A ground out to Thomas brought Chambliss one out away from his second complete game of the season but that’s when things came apart. Johnson just beat out a ball hit deep to third to keep their hopes alive as the potential winning run came to the plate. The game looked to be over on a soft chopper to short but an error kept UNC in the game with a runner in scoring position. The Heels sent pinch hitter Seth Williams to the plate, a late scratch from the starting line-up due to a minor injury suffered pre-game. Williams popped a ball up just behind the pitcher’s mound where three Seminoles converged and collided as the ball fell to the ground. The second-consecutive error should have ended the game but allowed UNC to tie it up as Chambliss’ defense ended his chance for the win and the complete game as Luke Tucker came in to try and end the nightmarish ninth inning. That brought up Fronk at the top of the order as the Heels looked to break FSU’s hearts. Tucker walked the lead-off batter to load the bases for Horton who flared a single just in front of left-fielder Mark Gildea completing the Heel comeback.
The top-ranked Seminoles conclude their showdown with No. 6 North Carolina Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Game Tracker will be available for every game this season along with live radio broadcasts available on WFLA locally and free on the Internet at seminoles.com.