Feb. 4, 2005
Tallahassee, FL – Last weekend the 18th-ranked FSU baseball team got good pitching, solid defense and timely hits in a sweep of Charleston Southern. The Seminoles used the same formula Friday night as they won the first game of the VMI (0-1) series 8-2. Aaron Cheesman and Shane Robinson both recorded multi-hit games and Mark Sauls (1-0) picked up the win as FSU improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2000.
“I didn’t know this was our first 4-0 start since 2000,” said head coach Mike Martin. “All I knew was we played very good baseball last weekend and we were hoping to continue that today. When you see a zero in that last column (errors), I am very pleased with the way we are playing defense.”
Sauls went five innings for Florida State and allowed just one run, the first given up by a Seminole starter in 16.2 innings. The junior struck out five and issued just two walks. Brian Schultz, a 2004 freshman All-American, saw his first action of the year and picked up the save going four innings. He struck out one batter and issued just one walk.
“Our pitching was very gutsy today,” said Martin. “Sauls had one bad inning but he did not lose his poise. He got us into the dugout. He is just a good competitor.”
“I hoped to get my first win last weekend and it just didn’t happen,” said Sauls. “This week I wanted to throw more strikes and not walk as many people. I just went out there and tried to throw strikes today. I walked too many batters last week. Last week I walked five people and that is like giving up five hits. Things were better today.”
Cheesman and Robinson continued to pace the club offensively. Florida State has now scored 30 runs in the first four games of the year and Cheesman and Robinson are leading that charge. Robinson went 3-for-5 versus VMI with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI. Cheesman went 2-for-3 with one extra base hit. The senior catcher now leads the team with eight RBIs, more than twice as many as any other Seminole and he is batting .462. Robinson is off to a torrid start as well. The sophomore raised his average to .563 and he is slugging .813.
“When Cheesman is able to hit with runners on base, he takes advantage of the situation,” said Martin. “When you have played in the number of exciting games that he has played in, you aren’t intimidated or anxious. When you get up there in run scoring situations, the pitcher has to throw Cheesman a good pitch because he isn’t going to chase it. He has the ability and takes advantage of that.”
“I am going up to bat with a positive outlook and I have been seeing the ball well,” said Robinson. “I am just coming out each day and trying to get the job done whenever I can. So far it has been working.”
Freshmen Tony Thomas, Jr. and Nick Francis, the middle of the Florida State infield, continued the good starts to their careers. Neither made an error and both made big plays at the plate as well. Francis went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored while Thomas went 2-for-3 with the first two RBIs of his career and one of the hardest hit doubles of the season to date.
“I was just looking for a pitch to drive and got one on the inner third and put it into the gap,” said Thomas. “I was happy it carried as far as it did but I was hoping it would go a little further. That’s fine with me because I’ll take a double.”
“I have been pleased with the poise of our young players,” said Martin. “Last week they got their feet on the ground and this weekend I was glad to see both Tony and Nick play like they had three games under their belts. It was not a big deal to them today. I am just very pleased with the way both of those guys are playing.”
Just like he did in his first outing of the season, Sauls breezed through the top of the first setting VMI down in order with two outs coming via strike outs. Robinson then got things started for FSU in the bottom of the first by doubling down the left field line, his third double of the season. After VMI starter Duke Acors (0-1) got Gibbs Chapman, Cheesman continued his tear singling to right center and driving in his eighth run of the year. Ryne Malone drew a walk and Josh Spivey singled but the freshman got caught trying to stretch it into a double for the second out leaving runners on second and third before Acors ended the threat on a strike out.
The Keydets recorded their first two hits of the game in the top of the second but VMI didn’t threaten to break up the shutout as Sauls ended the inning with his third K of the game. Thomas came up in the bottom of the frame and recorded the first hit of his career in the second and stole a base. Robinson then came up big once again. He doubled for the second time in the game scoring Thomas and putting FSU up 2-0.
In the top of the third, VMI looked to cut into the FSU lead as two more singles put runners on the corners with just one away. A sacrifice fly produced the second out and the first run of the day for the Keydets. The fifth hit of the day put runners on first and third before Sauls’ first walk of the game loaded the bases. The junior fought his way out of danger though with a grounder to second base ending the top of the third.
While the third inning was a struggle for Sauls, the junior cruised through the fourth setting VMI down in order including his fourth and fifth strike outs of the game.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Seminoles added to their lead. Chapman started the inning off with a walk and was followed by Cheesman who doubled down the left field line. Malone then plated FSU’s third run on a sac fly to right. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases with only one out but Acors got the next hitter leaving FSU with the sacks full and two outs. Francis came through though as he blooped a single into shallow right field plating two runs and putting FSU in front 5-1. Thomas then followed with a double to the warning track in center field clearing the bases for a 7-1 lead.
“That hit really just gets me more comfortable up there,” said Francis. “I am more relaxed now.”
Schultz (1) came in to the game in the sixth and the 2004 freshman All-American gave up a couple of hits but kept the Keydets at bay until the eighth. VMI cut into the lead when Schultz gave up a single and a double after a walk to cut the FSU advantage to 7-2. The Keydets were unable to do any more damage versus Schultz as the sophomore finished his third inning of work.
FSU got the run back in the bottom of the eighth. Robinson recorded his third hit of the game and moved to third on back-to-back wild pitches. Brandon Manasa then scored the sophomore on a ground out to second.
The Seminoles will go after their fifth straight win to start the season Saturday, February 5 at 2:00 p.m. The last time FSU started a season at 5-0 was 1999 and that season FSU finished the season second in the nation and playing for the national championship. The Garnet and Gold is expected to throw Tallahassee, FL native Michael Hyde (1-0) who is looking for his second win of the season. Game Tracker will be available for the contest along with a live radio broadcast available on WFLA locally and on the Internet at seminoles.com.