Feb. 12, 2005
Tallahassee, FL – For the first time all season the 15th-ranked FSU baseball showed its youth but once again it also showed its determination as even five errors couldn’t derail the Seminoles from winning their eighth straight game. Florida State fell behind Auburn 5-1 after four and was trailing by the same score going into the bottom of the sixth but the Garnet and Gold staged a furious comeback scoring in each of the final four innings to pull out the 6-5 victory. The win improved FSU to 8-0 while Auburn (3-2) dropped its second straight game. Tyler Chambliss (2-0), who pitched just 2/3 of an inning, picked up the win and freshman Jack Rye drove in the winning run on a swinging bunt in the bottom of the ninth.
“I am elated,” said head coach Mike Martin. “I am really, really happy. I am pleased with the way these young men showed poise and discipline. I am pleased that we didn’t panic. We played poorly. We made five errors but we came back and got big hits.”
“We have a lot of competitors on this team,” said senior captain Aaron Cheesman who started the ninth inning rally that won the game. “Nobody quits on this team. I think everybody realized that today. Over the first seven games of the year, we have already played in some close games so we know how to handle ourselves in these situations. That helped us today.”
Cheesman started the FSU rally by leading off the ninth inning with a single to right field. He advanced to second on a wild pitch. At that point Martin had clean-up hitter Ryne Malone lay down a sac bunt, something he said he hasn’t had his clean-up hitter do since the mid-80’s. With Cheesman on third, Rye came up and dropped a swinging bunt about 10 feet away from home allowing Cheesman to score the winning run.
“Anything hit I was going towards the plate,” said Cheesman. “I wasn’t really looking for Jack to have a swinging bunt but in that situation it was perfect placement. I just ran home.”
“That was a dream come true,” said Rye. “I have never really experienced something like that before, with all the people cheering. It was great.”
Rye had never hit higher than seventh in the order before he was penciled into the five-hole for Saturday’s game. The rookie from Woodbridge, CA responded with a 2-for-4 day including his first career double and the game-winning RBI.
“Jack is a guy we were very impressed with in summer camp,” said Martin. “When he came in this fall he gave us a big lift and was a guy I thought would hit in the middle of our line-up. We hit him fifth today because we wanted another left-handed hitter and Jack just seemed to be the logical guy to hit there. I hope this is an awakening for him because he is a very good hitter and a very good baseball player. I was happy to see him have that success today.”
“I have no idea why they hit me fifth but it triggered in my mind that the coaches trust me,” said Rye. “I am just glad I justified that trust today.”
Another freshman who played a huge role in the FSU win was Ryne Jernigan. The Milton, FL native struggled with two errors and had left five runners on base in his three plate appearances coming into the eighth. With two runners aboard and two outs, Jernigan came through with an RBI single evening the game at 5-5 and setting the stage for the Seminole win.
“I stranded five runners and made a couple of errors, I just had to come through there,” said Jernigan. “It was a great feeling to be able to do something to help this team win.”
“I am very proud of Ryne,” said Martin. “I didn’t recruit him to Florida State to pinch hit for him in that situation. That is a young man that we know is going to be a very important part of this. I wanted him to know that he had the opportunity to perform. I was very happy he got the base hit. He certainly came through for his team in the eighth inning to tie it up.”
Five Seminole pitchers appeared in the game for FSU with two, Matt DiBlasi and Kevin Lynch, each throwing just one pitch in the ninth. Brian Schultz started the game and went four innings giving up five runs, three of which were earned. Barret Browning then came in and pitched four innings of no-run ball while allowing just three hits allowing FSU to stage its comeback. Browning had started in each of the first two series of the season but was moved into a relief role with the return of Schultz and Friday’s winner Hunter Jones.
“I just wanted to come in and hold them to five runs,” said Browning. “My goal was to keep them at five runs any way I could. We are a scrappy ball club and I knew we would come back and get some runs. If I could hold them where they were, I knew we could get back into this game. There was no doubt in my mind. I was ready for this opportunity and very excited about it.
“It is a great feeling to be a part of this win and to be a part of this team. Any time I get a chance to play I will be ready. I am just glad I had an opportunity today. I will be ready tomorrow or the next day. Starting is great but I just came here to pitch and whenever I get the chance, I will be ready to go.”
The Tigers looked to break on top of FSU in the second when Karl Amonite led the inning off with a double into the gap in left just passed a diving Robinson. Ben Sprague followed up with a smash off Schultz’s leg that caromed into center field allowing Amonite to come home. Another Auburn single put runners on the corners and a sac bunt scored the Tigers’ second run of the inning. The Seminoles third error of the game allowed another Auburn run to come home before Schultz closed out the inning.
Florida State attempted to answer in the bottom of the inning with back-to-back one out singles by Rye and Bryan Henry. Josh Spivey drew a two out walk to load the bases but Auburn starter Josh Sullivan got Ryne Jernigan to foul out to end the threat.
Robinson started the third when he got hit with a pitch. The sophomore then swiped his eighth base of the season before moving to third on a ground ball out. Robinson then came home on Cheesman’s sac fly to cut the lead to 3-1.
In the fourth, the Tigers got back on the board thanks to a lead-off single, a balk and a two-out double. The extra base hit came from Bruce Edwards, the number nine batter in the Tiger line-up. Another single extended the Auburn lead to 5-1 before the Seminoles could get out of the top of the inning.
Florida State tried to mount a comeback in the bottom of the sixth versus new Auburn pitcher Cliff Mullins. Cheesman reached on an error and Malone followed with a single into right. Rye then cashed in with a double high off the fence in right to cut the lead to 5-2. A walk loaded the bases for FSU before Mullins recorded the first out of the inning with a K. The Seminoles got unlucky on the next play as Spivey ripped a shot up the middle that was headed into the outfield but it caught the pitcher and ricocheted right to the third baseman who got Spivey at first. The ground out did plate a run though to make the score 5-3.
Robinson started another FSU rally in the seventh when he singled and moved up to second on a wild pitch. Gibbs Chapman then brought him home on a hard hit ball up the middle.
With the score 5-4, FSU tried to even the game up in the eighth with a two-out rally. Thomas drew a walk and a Spivey single put runners on the corners. Jernigan then evened the game with his single through the left side. A walk to Robinson loaded the base as FSU threatened to break the game open but reliever Michael Nix got out of the inning as FSU stranded its seventh, eighth and ninth runners of the game.
After Browning pitched four near-perfect innings, he hit the first batter in the top of the ninth. That brought in Lynch who threw one pitch, which was singled to short putting two runners on with nobody out as the Tigers tried to wrestle the lead back. Martin then brought in DiBlasi who threw one pitch as well and recorded the first out of the inning, which came on a foul out to first. Chambliss was next up and he ended the inning by snaring a bouncer up the middle and turning it into a 1-6-3 double play setting the stage for the bottom of the ninth.
“Everything depends on what the leadoff hitter does and Barret threw one pitch he probably wishes he hadn’t thrown,” said Martin. “That put him in a tough situation. When the guy got on base, we had a guy down there in Lynch that knows how to pitch in those situations. When they got the single it brought a left-handed pitcher to the plate and we brought in DiBlasi who certainly did a good job. Then of course Tyler came in and made a great throw to second and we end up getting a double play. Jamey Shouppe does such a tremendous job of teaching our pitchers to get their feet set. That was a huge lift for our baseball club.”
The Seminoles will go after their third straight series sweep to start the season Sunday, February 13 at 1:00 p.m. The Garnet and Gold is expected to throw Michael Hyde (1-0) who is making his third start of the season. Former Seminole radio broadcaster Lee Bowen will be honored before the game and fans are asked to arrive early for the presentation. Game Tracker will be available for the contest along with a live radio broadcast available on WFLA locally and on the Internet at seminoles.com.