TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Tyler Holtonstruck out 13 batters Saturday against UCF (40-22), helping Florida State (40-21) to a 6-1 win over the Knights in an elimination game at the Tallahassee Regional. Holton improved to 10-2 on the afternoon, allowing one unearned run and just six hits, while his 13 strikeouts tied a career high and he did not walk a batter.
Holton hit double-digit strikeouts for the third consecutive game and the sixth time this season, the first Seminole with six games of 10 or more strikeouts in a season since Jonathan Johnson in 1995. Over the past four games, all against ranked opponents, Holton has allowed just two earned runs over 34 innings (0.53 ERA), striking out 43 and walking just four. In two complete games against Wake Forest (5/13) and UCF, Holton combined for 22 strikeouts and no walks.
Holton’s 13 strikeouts Saturday tie his career high (Oakland, 3/4) and give him 132 on the season, the most for a Seminole since 2000 and the 13th most in a single season in school history. He is FSU’s first 10-game winner since Scott Sitz and Brandon Leibrandt in 2013.
Offensively, FSU used a pair of home runs to take a 4-0 lead through five innings. Jackson Lueck, the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship MVP last week, hit a three-run home run off UCF starter Chris Williams (5-4). Lueck missed both games against the Knights earlier this season due to shin splints. It was Lueck’s ninth home run of the season, more than doubling his total of four as a freshman in 2016.
Jason Bahr entered for Williams in the fifth, and Taylor Walls led off with his sixth home run of the season. Bahr would go on to pitch three innings, retiring all nine outs via strikeout, but allowed a pair of runs as FSU built its lead to 5-0 in the sixth inning on an RBI single from Steven Wells.
UCF broke through offensively with an unearned run in the seventh inning, aided by a pair of throwing errors from FSU infielders. Rylan Thomas reached on an error by Walls and Logan Heiser reached on an error by Dylan Busby. Matthew Mika’s two-out single made the score 5-1, but Holton responded with a strike out of Luke Hamblin to end the inning.
FSU tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth. Busby singled and Quincy Nieporte walked, followed by a single from Cal Raleigh that diving centerfielder Hamblin could not corral. With two outs, Matt Henderson reached on a fielding error that allowed Busby to score, but Hank Truluck, running for Nieporte, was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
In the ninth, Holton threw 10 pitches and recorded his 13th strikeout. Mika flied out to Lueck in left field to end the game on Holton’s 129th pitch of the afternoon.
Walls, Nieporte and Henderson each had two hits for the Seminoles on the afternoon.
The win extends FSU’s season to at least Sunday against the loser of the Tennessee Tech-Auburn game. The win also gives Florida State 40 wins for an unprecedented 40-consecutive seasons. The next longest active streak is six years by Louisville and LSU.
After the game, head coach Mike Martin announced that right-hander Cole Sands(6-3, 5.30 ERA) will start for the Seminoles on Sunday.
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).