OMAHA, Neb. – Two days ago, the Florida State baseball team watched in awe as their left-handed ace dominated his opposition and carried the Seminoles to a victory in their College World Series opener.
A little more than 48 hours later, Michigan’s Tommy Henry showed the Seminoles just how bad it feels to be on the other side.
Henry, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound lefty and a second-round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, on Monday did all the things that Drew Parrish did so well on Saturday in a win over Arkansas.
He mixed speeds, consistently threw different pitches for strikes and, for long stretches, looked like he was in total control.
And, most importantly, Henry earned a crucial, 2-0 victory over FSU that kept the Wolverines in the winners’ bracket and sent the Seminoles into an elimination game on Wednesday against Texas Tech.
“That was a masterpiece,” FSU coach Mike Martin said. “He just really, really, made it tough on us.”
Henry went all nine innings, scattered three hits – one of which came on FSU’s first at-bat – struck out 10 and didn’t issue a single walk.
Not only did Henry’s numbers look similar to Parrish’s on Saturday (eight innings, five hits, nine strikeouts), but so did the way he went about achieving them.
“He just mixed speeds well and hit his spots,” said shortstop Mike Salvatore, who notched two of the Seminoles’ three hits. “He definitely threw a lot of strikes. He didn’t give us a chance to work counts. You had to be ready to hit. …
“That kid just kind of kept us off-balance all night, and we saw the same thing with Parrish in the first game.”
And, in what might be the evening’s cruelest irony, Henry’s heroics overshadowed a historic performance from FSU’s own pitchers.
Yes, Michigan touched up starter CJ Van Eyk for seven hits, forced him to throw 106 pitches in just 4 2/3 innings and dealt Van Eyk his first loss since early-April. But Van Eyk also struck out nine of the 22 batters he faced and stranded four runners on base.
From there, FSU’s reliever tandem of Chase Haney and Jonah Scolaro were simply dominant in keeping the Wolverines in check and keeping the Seminoles within striking distance.
Haney didn’t allow a hit and struck out two in 2 1/3 innings. Then Scolaro, making his first appearance since May 21, followed up with what might have been the best outing of his career: Six batters faced, six strikeouts.
By the time it was over, Florida State pitchers had struck out 17 Michigan batters and carved out a place for themselves in the College World Series record book:
Florida State pitching has struck out 17 batters.
Most K's in a 9-inning CWS game
19 Clemson vs Miami (Fla.), 5/31/96
17 Arizona State vs. Oklahoma, 6/11/72
17 Florida State vs. Michigan, TODAY (through top of the 9th)
16 (6x), last Oregon State vs. Arkansas, 6/26/18
— Rob Anderson (@_robanderson) June 18, 2019
“They kept us in it the entire time,” Salvatore said.
“I thought that CJ had a good outing,” Martin said, noting that Van Eyk might also have experienced some back tightness during his middle innings.
“Then ‘Chas’ (Haney) came out and pitched just absolutely gorgeous baseball. And what can you say about Jonah? That’s phenomenal, what he did.”
In two games in Omaha, Florida State has been locked in two pitchers’ duels against two future Major Leaguers, so perhaps a 1-1 record in those games is a fair result.
And Texas Tech’s expected starter on Wednesday night, Bryce Bonnin, is right-hander who is a 6-1 record but also a 4.42 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP.
Still, no matter who is on the mound, for the Red Raiders or any additional opponents, FSU will likely need an uptick in offense if it plans to extend its stay in Omaha.
In two games at the College World Series, the Seminoles have managed one run and eight hits, and they’ve yet to hit a home run out of notoriously cavernous TD Ameritrade Park.
Not that they’re worried. After all, they’re just two weeks removed from a 35-run outburst in Athens, Ga., and although their bats cooled a bit in Baton Rouge, the Seminoles also got the hits they needed during high-pressure moments against LSU.
“I’m really not concerned about our offense at all,” Martin said. “Maybe I can preface that by saying we’ve got to learn to leave some stuff alone. We keep swinging at some pitches (that we shouldn’t).”
Otherwise, there’s not much else to be done. Besides string some hits together.
“I feel like we’ve been successful all year, all postseason,” center fielder JC Flowers said. “So we don’t want to change anything.”