BATON ROUGE, La. – One win away from Omaha.
In front of 11,636 fans at Alex Box Stadium, Florida State (40-21) fiercely rallied in the latter innings to knock off No. 13 National Seed LSU (40-25) 6-4.
“If it sounds corny, I don’t care. This team cares about each other,” Mike Martin said when asked how his squad was able to make the comeback. “We don’t worry about what other people say and that’s what makes us proud to be Seminoles.”
Falling behind 4-0 after five innings without recording a hit, the Noles scored in each of the final four innings against four Tiger relievers. Reese Albert hit a pair of home runs Saturday, the first a mammoth shot that tied the game in the seventh inning and the second, in the ninth inning, providing an insurance run.
Behind Drew Parrish, the Seminole bullpen was stellar, allowing just two hits and two walks in 4.1 innings. Antonio Velez (4-2) earned the win, pitching the seventh inning, while J.C. Flowers earned his 12th save and just his third that went 2.0 innings.
For much of the contest, the Tigers seemed to be in full control behind a raucous home crowd and strong pitching from a slew of bullpen arms.
The Tigers struck first in the 2nd inning, as Parrish hit a batter and walked another.
After both runners advanced on a passed ball, Brandt Broussard blooped a single into center field to score a run and give LSU a 1-0 lead. With the pressure mounting, Parrish was able to strike out Hal Hughes looking to strand runners on 2nd and 3rd and retire the side.
Cole Henry, the Tigers’ starting pitcher, lasted just two innings experiencing some elbow soreness, causing the Tigers to turn to their bullpen earlier than anticipated. He allowed three walks and struck out three batters in his brief outing.
LSU added to their lead in the 3rd inning as Josh Smith doubled to right field and came around to score on a pair of groundouts, to make it 2-0. The following inning, the Tigers pushed another run across after a double and RBI single gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead with four frames complete.
In the 5th inning, the Tigers scored for the fourth consecutive frame after a pair of base hits put runners on 1st and 2nd and one out. A line drive through the right side of the infield by Daniel Cabrera gave LSU a 4-0 lead off Parrish.
The lefty finished his outing going four and two-thirds innings, giving up six hits and three earned runs. Parrish walked one and struck out four batters on 81 pitches. Chase Haney retired the final batter of the fifth and threw a scoreless sixth inning.
The Seminoles had a tough time early on against the home side as they were no-hit through five frames.
In the top of the 6th inning the tide turned for the visitors. Drew Mendoza walked and Robby Martin gave FSU its first hit of the game to put runners at first and third. A Matheu Nelson infield single cut the LSU lead to 4-1.
With Haney and Velez calming the waters on the mound, the Seminole offense kicked into high gear in the 7th inning. Tim Becker singled to right and Mike Salvatore walked, bringing up Albert with one out. On the 11th pitch of the at-bat, the sophomore tied the ball game up with one swing of the stick.
He took a 92 MPH offering from Trent Vietmeier way out of the park in right, clearing the stands to make it 4-4.
“I knew I was getting a fastball,” Albert said of his no-doubter. “He just gave me a pitch I could do damage with and that was it.”
“That at-bat was huge, he fouled some pitches off,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said after the game. “He battled hard and got around on one.”
In the 8th inning, FSU loaded the bases with one out after a walk to Nelson, a Nander De Sedas single and another walk to Smith. Becker continued his hot post-season as he drove a sacrifice fly to left field, bringing Nelson home to give the Noles their first lead of the game at 5-4. The loss was charged to Devin Fontenot (5-3).
Needing an insurance run in the top of the 9th inning, Albert did it again.
He took the first pitch he saw from Zack Hess and deposited the ball just over the wall in right field for a solo shot. The sophomore’s second blast of the game gave FSU a 6-4 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, LSU got two on with two out after a single and a walk with Flowers on the mound for the Seminoles. With the legendary Alex Box Stadium as loud as it was all afternoon, Flowers forced the all-time LSU hits leader in Antione Duplantis to pop up.
Nelson squeezed it behind home plate and FSU found itself victorious in game one of the Baton Rouge Super Regional.
“It was nerve-wracking, but a lot of fun,” Flowers said on pitching in the environment. “I hope I get to do it again.”
“We know nothing is decided,” Mike Martin added on his team’s approach to the rest of the weekend. “We know we have to play well against a team with its back to the wall.”
Game two will be played on Sunday at 6 PM Eastern. CJ Van Eyk (10-3) will start on the mound for the Seminoles.
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).