June 5, 2004
Tallahassee, Fla. – Top-seeded Florida State (44-20) held on for a 3-2 victory over third-seeded UCF (45-17) in front of 4,103 fans in the winners’ bracket of the NCAA Tallahassee Regional at Dick Howser Stadium Saturday afternoon. FSU right-hander Rhett James (10-2), who no-hit the Knights through the first 6.1 innings, earned the win after giving up just two runs on three hits in seven innings of work. James struck out six and walked one. DiBlasi picked up the save, his second of the season, after working the final 2.1 innings of scoreless relief.
The Seminoles took the early lead with a run in the top of the first. After a Bryan Zech leadoff single, Stephen Drew and Eddy Martinez-Esteve drew walks to load the bases with no outs. Kyle Bono struck out cleanup hitter Aaron Cheesman, but Ryne Malone’s sacrifice fly to center scored Zech and put FSU up 1-0.
In the top of the fourth, Florida State added a pair of runs to make it 3-0. Malone drew a leadoff walk, moved to third on a double by Matt Sauls and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Gibbs Chapman. Shane Robinson then plated Sauls from second with a single to right field.
The Knights mounted a rally in the bottom of the eighth. Kevin Richmond got things started with a single through the left side, pinch-hitter David Mann drew a walk and Drew Butera loaded the bases with a bunt base hit. Kevin Lynch entered the game in relief of James with no outs. Marshall Bernhard came through with a pinch-hit double to right center that cut the FSU lead 3-2. With runners on second and third and still no outs, Seminole skipper Mike Martin again went to the bullpen. Seminole left-hander Matt DiBlasi came in and got a pop-up to second base and back-to-back groundouts to the mound sandwiched around an intentional walk.
UCF right-hander Kyle Bono (8-2) took the loss after allowing three runs on five hits in seven innings. Bono struck out six and issued a season-high four walks.
Zech and Drew led the Seminoles offensively with two hits while Sauls had the only extra base hit with a double in the fourth.
UCF will immediately play Oklahoma State in an elimination game at 7:00 p.m. while Florida State advances to Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. championship game. Sunday’s game will be televised live by Sunshine Network.