TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Sophomore Tyler Holton allowed just two hits and struck out a career-high 11 as No. 5 Florida State (4-2) blanked the Samford Bulldogs (2-3), 8-0, Saturday afternoon on Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium. Senior first baseman Quincy Nieporte had five RBI, including his second career grand slam, in leading the Seminole offense.
“Tyler Holton was the key,” head coach Mike Martin said. “You look at his numbers and, my gosh, two hits and 11 strikeouts. It’s pretty easy to see. We only had 16 plays to make in the field. The first play of the game set the tone.”
Second baseman Matt Henderson fielded a ground ball running towards second base from Bulldog leadoff hitter T.J. Dixon and threw the speedy Dixon out at first base. After groundouts by Dixon and Branden Fryman to open the game, Holton (2-0) recorded seven consecutive outs via strikeout, with the lone baserunner coming on a walk in the third inning.
Florida State put a pair of runners on base in each of the first two innings, but all four were stranded and the game remained scoreless until FSU broke through with five runs in the fifth inning. Dylan Busby, a late scratch from the starting lineup, entered the game at third base in the fifth inning and walked in his first plate appearance in the bottom of the inning. Taylor Walls followed with a walk, his 20th-consecutive game reaching base, which ties his career high from 2016. Cal Raleigh, who had just one hit entering Saturday, turned a 1-2 pitch into an RBI double off the right field wall to plate Busby. Raleigh finished 2-for-3 on the afternoon.
Junior Rhett Aplin, who hit .500 with a pair of home runs in his first five games as a Nole, was then intentionally walked to load the bases for Nieporte. Nieporte turned on the 1-0 pitch from Samford’s Mikhail Cazenave (1-1) and sent it high over the left field wall for his second career grand slam and second home run of 2017.
“It was real nice, especially with the outing Tyler was having,” Nieporte said of his 14th career home run. “Our lineup is dangerous from top to bottom.”
With a 5-0 lead, Holton allowed just one baserunner in each of the sixth and seventh innings and struck out the final two batters he faced. Holton finished with 11 strikeouts in seven innings. It surpassed his previous career-high of nine against Miami in the ACC Tournament last season, and is the most for a Seminole since Mike Compton had 11 against Coastal Carolina late in the 2015 season.
FSU added a run in the sixth inning, when Nieporte again came up with the bases loaded and reached on a fielding error by third baseman Taylor Garris. The Noles capped the scoring in the eighth inning, with Nieporte recording his fifth RBI of the game on an RBI single through the left side to score Donovan Petrey. Freshman Tyler Daughtry, who reached on his first career hit, scored when leftfielder Kevin Williams misplayed the ball.
Jim Voyles closed out the game with a pair of scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and striking out a pair of batters.
Through six games, the Florida State pitching staff has compiled a 2.00 ERA, allowing just 12 earned runs while striking out 59 and walking 14.
For Samford, Cazenave was solid through four innings before slipping in the fifth. He finished with five earned runs allowed in 4.1 innings. Williams, who had two home runs Friday night for the Bulldogs, had two of Samford’s five hits on Saturday.
Florida State will go for the sweep in the series finale Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Dick Howser Stadium. Drew Parrish (0-0) will make the first start of his career for the Seminoles, while Samford will throw Tallahassee-native Stephen Jones (0-0).
Fans can watch the game live on ACC Network Extra (formerly ESPN3) or listen live on the radio in Tallahassee on 106.1 FM or anywhere through 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).