ATLANTA, Ga. – Junior pitcher Cole Sands allowed two runs in a career-high seven innings and No. 6 Florida State (24-7, 8-5 ACC) beat Georgia Tech (17-13, 6-7) 10-2 Friday night at Russ Chandler Stadium. Nick Derr and Jackson Lueck each hit their sixth home runs of the season.
“Every win is important,” head coach Mike Martin said. “This one was certainly important because it was on the road. Our guys showed great resiliency when we fell behind early. We did a good job getting it done but tomorrow will be another challenge.”
Sands (6-1) went seven innings for the second straight outing and finished with eight strikeouts, one shy of his career high. He allowed a first-inning home run to Joey Bart but put up six straight scoreless innings after that. Sands retired 12 straight hitters between the third and seventh innings.
“He pitched tonight better than last time,” Martin said. “He located his fastball very well, threw the curve and the changeup very well, got us to the seventh inning. It was a tremendous outing for him and a big lift for our ball club.”
FSU took a lead it would not relinquish in the fourth inning off Xzavion Curry (6-1). Cal Raleigh walked and Drew Mendoza singled to open the inning. Raleigh scored when Reese Albert reached on an error by Tech shortstop Austin Wilhite to tie the score at 1-1. Derr’s home run to right field was his sixth of the season and gave FSU a 4-1 lead.
Sands capitalized on FSU’s fourth-inning outburst and did not allow a base runner with the lead until a one-out walk in the seventh. After Wilhite singled to right field when Albert lost the ball in the lights, Sands retired the next two batters to tie a career high with seven innings pitched.
Raleigh hit his first of two doubles in the seventh inning to score Mike Salvatore and Jackson Lueck.
Sands walked Bart to start the eighth inning, his final batter of the night. Clayton Kwiatkowski entered and allowed two singles and a walk as Tech cut the lead to 6-2, but struck out Wilhite looking to end the bases-loaded threat.
Lueck matched Derr’s home run total with his sixth on a two-run ninth-inning blast that scored Salvatore and extended FSU’s lead to 8-2. Rhett Aplin singled and Raleigh doubled before Kyle Cavanaugh had a pinch-hit single. Steven Wells was hit by a pitch with the bases to provide FSU’s final run.
Aplin set a season high with three hits in the game. FSU had 12 hits for the second straight game, one shy of the season high (13 in the season opener against Xavier).
“You don’t expect that when you’re facing a guy that was undefeated,” Martin said. “To get out here and get a win like we did, against a guy who was undefeated and coming off a sweep of Miami from the week before, our young men got it done.”
Cobi Johnson made his first appearance since March 21 against UCF in the bottom of the ninth, working around a one-out walk to force a double play to end the game.
After tying the score at 1-1 on an error in the fourth inning, Nick Derr’s sixth home run of the season gave FSU a 4-1 lead. The Seminoles allowed just one run the rest of the game.
FSU’s win was head coach Mike Martin’s 1,968th of his career. He needs just 8 more to become the winningest coach in college baseball history. He currently only trails the late Augie Garrido (1,975 wins). Martin is 57-40 against Georgia Tech and has won six straight against the Yellow Jackets.
Florida State and Georgia Tech play game two of the series Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at Russ Chandler Stadium. LHP Drew Parrish (2-0, 2.61 ERA) will pitch for the Seminoles. LHP Connor Thomas (3-3, 4.29 ERA) will throw for the Yellow Jackets.
The game will stream on the ACC Network Extra through WatchESPN.
Eric Luallen will be on the radio in Tallahassee on 106.1 FM and nationwide on 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).