CLEMSON, S.C. – As Mike Martin stood in front of a slew of media, he looked down at the ball used in the final out of Florida State’s 3-2 win over Clemson in a 13-inning instant classic.
Now the winningest coach in college baseball history, he twirled it a few times in his hands and a smile crawled across his face.
“This one makes me think of the first one (win), ‘cause I was given a baseball when we beat Miami in 1980,” Martin said as he reminisced. “(Former Seminole) James Ramsey’s daddy gave it to me.”
That statement is what Seminole Baseball has embodied in the 39 years with Martin at the helm. The family lineage is commonplace, where FSU has created an environment around the program to which few around the country can compare.
From Ramsey and his father, Craig, to current player Rafael Bournigal and his father, Rafael Sr., to the Posey brothers and the Drews, the pride on the Seminole skipper’s face when he talks about his tenure is evident.
“If it sounds corny, I don’t care. It’s about family, we are Florida State family,” Martin said.
“This university has given me every chance to be successful and what’s most important to me, is when people read the record it’ll say Florida State (next to my name).”
Win No. 1,976 wouldn’t come easy as the Noles and Tigers provided the 5,379 in attendance at Doug Kingsmore Stadium a low-scoring extra inning thriller.
Drew Parrish dazzled for 6 1/3 innings as he continued his strong sophomore campaign. The lefty gave up just two hits and a run, while striking out eight batters on the evening before exiting in the seventh with a 2-0 lead and the bases loaded.
He gave way to Jonah Scolaro who gave up a sacrifice fly, cutting the lead to 2-1.
After a walk re-loaded the bases, Martin went to C.J. Van Eyk, the versatile freshman who’s been used in a variety of roles for the Seminoles in 2018. The hard-throwing righty got Robert Jolly swinging for a strikeout to end the threat and keep the Seminoles ahead.
The Tigers would tie the game at 2-2 in the eighth inning on a double and a single, before Van Eyk calmly induced a double play to end the inning.
The game rolled into the 13th inning, with neither team able to execute on previous scoring chances in extras.
With one swing of the bat, that all changed.
Steven Wells, 0-for-6 heading into his at-bat, cranked a 1-2 fastball from Clemson’s star closer, Ryley Gilliam, to the top of the left field grandstands for a home run, giving FSU a 3-2 lead.
“Relief, it was such a long game and we were battling,” Wells said of his game winning blast. “The previous six at-bats didn’t go my way so it was just a great feeling.”
Wells, a senior, has played many games for Martin in his career; to have the final run that sealed history is a moment he’ll never forget.
“I got some texts from my dad and my aunts,” Wells said, beaming.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet, it’s awesome to see him hit this milestone, he brings so much passion to the game every day.”
As the game moved to the bottom of the 13th, the nerves began to set in for Van Eyk. Three outs away, history was waiting for him as he trotted back out to the mound for his sixth inning of work.
“It was definitely in the back of our minds, but we tried not to bring it forward and talk about it, no one wanted to jinx it,” Van Eyk said. “It was something we were striving for and I just went out there and wanted to execute pitches.”
The Tigers made it interesting with a couple of runners reaching base, but a heads-up play by Cal Raleigh to throw out a runner attempting for third and a fly out clinched the record-breaking night.
“It’s just incredible, to do it for the winningest coach in the game now, it’s something I’ll never forget,” Van Eyk said.
As Martin walked off the field, a reporter asked him, “Are you glad it’s over?”
“Yes, I’m glad it’s over,” Martin said with a laugh.
“We got to be ready to play again tomorrow.”
Steven Wells hit a solo home run in the top of the 13th inning. The 1-2 pitch off Ryley Gilliam gave the Seminoles a 3-2 lead.
Florida State head coach Mike Martin became the winningest coach in college baseball history Saturday. Over his 39-year career, Martin is now 1,976-708-4, with all of his wins coming at his alma mater.
Martin passed the late Augie Garrido, who compiled a 1,975-951-9 in 48 seasons at San Francisco State, Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Illinois and Texas.
Florida State and Clemson will play game two of the series Sunday at 4:00 p.m. at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. RHP Andrew Karp (7-3, 2.83 ERA) will throw for the Seminoles and Clemson will counter with RHP Brooks Crawford (5-2, 3.54 ERA).
The game will stream live on ACC Network Extra. Eric Luallen will provide play-by-play on the radio in Tallahassee on 106.1 FM and nationally 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).