TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State used three home runs, including a two-run game-winner from Drew Mendoza in the sixth inning, to knock off No. 14 Virginia 6-4 Friday evening in front of 4,021 fans on Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium. Dylan Busby and Jackson Lueck hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning, and the Seminole bullpen held the Cavaliers scoreless through the final 4.2 innings.
“We’ve said from Day One that our program is about pitching and defense,” head coach Mike Martin said. “Tonight, I thought we pitched very well. We didn’t play error-free baseball, but we played solid baseball. We know tomorrow gets here quickly…we’ve just got to stay within ourselves.
“We’re happy, but there’s two more games to be played against a very good baseball team.”
Chase Haney (2-2) earned the win by pitching the sixth inning before Mendoza’s home run gave FSU the lead.
The reigning NCBWA National Hitter of the Week, Busby hit a towering home run in the first inning off the scoreboard in left field. The home run was his team-high ninth of the season and fifth in the past eight games. Lueck, who was ill before the game and exited after the third inning, followed with a home run over the scoreboard to give FSU a 2-0 lead after one inning.
FSU starter Cole Sands was spotless through three innings before running into trouble in the fourth. Virginia, the nation’s No. 6 offense with a .326 batting average entering the game, got three runs on a pair of hits and an error from FSU shortstop Taylor Walls. With one out, Pavin Smith walked and moved to second on Robbie Coman’s single. Caleb Knight, who entered hitting .417 on the year, tallied an RBI single, Coman scored on a throwing error from Walls and Knight scored on Nate Eikhoff’s groundout to Matt Henderson, giving Virginia a 3-2 lead.
Ernie Clement opened the fifth inning with a double, Virginia’s only extra base hit of the game. Andy Weber grounded out, advancing Clement to third base, and ending the day for Sands. Clayton Kwiatkowski came in and forced an RBI groundout and a fly out on just three pitches, limiting the damage.
In the bottom of the inning, Henderson walked and Walls hit a double off the left-center field wall to cut the deficit to 4-3. Walls moved to third on a wild pitch from Virginia starter Daniel Lynch before scoring on Busby’s RBI groundout to even the score at 4.
Chase Haney (2-2) worked around a two-out single in the sixth inning to keep the score tied. With reliever Chesdin Harrington (3-2) on the mound, Quincy Nieporte walked to open the sixth inning, and scored two batters later on Mendoza’s second career home run and first in Dick Howser Stadium.
With a 6-4 lead, Alec Byrd pitched a perfect seventh inning, including a diving catch by rightfielder Nick Derr to end the inning. In the eighth, Byrd allowed a single to Adam Haseley before getting two outs and leaving with Haseley on second base.
Closer Drew Carlton forced a fly out to Knight to end the inning. Virginia got a pair of runners on base to begin the ninth, and with one out runners were on second and third. Carlton forced a one-pitch pop up to Clement and Weber grounded out to Mendoza at first base to end the game.
It was Carlton’s fourth save of the year.
The win improves FSU to 11-10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Seminoles have won six of seven, including three straight against Top 15 opponents after taking the final two against No. 3 Clemson on April 16 and 17.
Florida State and Virginia will play Game 2 of the series Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Due to the Doak After Dark concert Saturday evening, fans parking for the game should park in the Spirit Way parking garage, the lot behind left field or either of the circus lots.
The game will stream on ACC Network Extra on WatchESPN, with commentators Tom Block and Chip Baker. Eric Luallen will provide play-by-play audio on 106.1 FM in Tallahassee and nationwide on the FSU Gameday App.
– Dylan Busby and Jackson Lueck’s first inning home runs were the first back-to-back homers for FSU this season. Busby was a part of the last back-to-back home runs for FSU when he paired with Cal Raleigh against South Alabama in last year’s NCAA Regional.
– Dating back to 2015, Busby has homered in his last three games against the Cavaliers. His 32 career home runs are the most among active players in the ACC, and he has five in his last eight games.
– Busby extended his team-high hitting streak to eight games, while Matt Henderson’s first inning single gave him a team-high 10 straight games reaching base.
– Cal Raleigh threw out Caleb Knight attempting to steal to end the second inning. Raleigh has thrown out 13 baserunners this season.
– The game was head coach Mike Martin’s 3,000th as a Seminole – 96 as a player, 288 as an assistant coach and 2,616 as head coach.
– It was the sixth time this season that Florida State has hit three home runs in a game.
– Drew Mendoza’s game-winning home run in the sixth inning was his first in Tallahassee and second of his career. His first home run came on April 9 at NC State.
– Mendoza was intentionally walked in the eighth inning, just the second time a Seminole has been intentionally walked this year (Rhett Aplin vs. Samford, February 25).
– Chase Haney, Alec Byrd and Drew Carlton each pitched in Friday’s win. The three are the only FSU pitchers with 20 or more appearances this season (Haney 23, Byrd 21, Carlton 20).
– Entering the game, Virginia was sixth nationally in hitting with a .326 average. On Friday night, the Cavaliers were 7-for-33 with only one extra base hit (Clement’s double).
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).