Florida State improved to 2-0 on the season Saturday afternoon after winning a fairly sloppy game against Rhode Island. Despite giving up five walks, hitting a batter and committing a couple of errors (and several more mental mistakes) the Seminoles won 6-2 after a big seventh inning gave them the lead for good.
"You have to be pleased with the way we kept our poise and just battled," said FSU head coach Mike Martin. "It was one of those games- and I mean you don't ever [make] excuses- but it was just a little bit chilly. It didn't matter, we fought we did what we needed to do to win the baseball game. I'm very proud of our young men."
The game started off slowly with neither team scoring until the bottom of the 4th when freshman CF DJ Stewart drew a bases loaded walk to give Florida State the early 1-0 advantage.
For most of the rest of the day it was a pitcher's duel with both teams working in and out of jams and drawing plenty of walks.
Rhode Island starting pitcher, senior right-hander Sean Furney, worked four innings surrendering just the one run but also walking seven and raising his pitch count to well over 100 before even reaching the 5th. Junior LHP Nick Narodowy replaced him in the fifth and pitched two scorless before running into trouble with one out in the seventh.
For Florida State, senior RHP Scott Sitz started and lasted just four innings himself, striking out four and walking one while giving up four hits and no runs.
"We made some quality pitches, Scott Sitz had a quality outing, they did a good job of being patient and getting his pitch count up, we weren't going to let him go into the 90's and he'd thrown 78 [through four], so we had to get him out of the ballgame," said Martin. "But I thought he pitched very well."
Sitz was replaced with sophomore LHP Kyle Bird who struggled a little but worked himself out of a bases loaded jam in fifth. After a quiet sixth, things fell apart for junior RHP Gage Smith in the top of the seventh though.
With two men on, sophomore 3B Jose Brizuela went to second to try and set up the double play but skipped the throw in causing the ball to careen away from the bag. That throwing error allowed the first Rhode Island run to cross. Moments later junior LHP Brandon Johnson replaced Smith and induced a sacrifice fly which scored the second run of the inning for the Rams and gave them a 2-1 advantage.
But Florida State struck back in the bottom of the inning. After freshman Stewart reached on an error, a Stephen McGee (JR C) walk advanced him to second and a Marcus Davis (JR OF) sacrifice bunt advanced both runners to scoring position. That was enough to knock Narodowy from the game.
Senior RHP Bobby Dean replaced him for URI and promptly walked John Nogowski to load the bases. Jameis Winston grounded into a fielder's choice for the second out on the first pitch of the next at-bat, but Dean would plunk Brizuela the very next batter to bring the tying run in anyway and even the game at two.
"Big, big play right there. It was one of those that got away from the pitcher, it was well into the batter's box and so instead of running from it, he wears it," said Martin. "That took a lot of nerve, that's the mark of a winner. I'm very proud of Jose."
Dean followed the plunking by surrendering the lead, issuing a walk to the ninth hitter, freshman 2B John Sansone, and putting the 'Noles back on top 3-2.
Rob Curran replaced Dean and plated the third Florida State run of the inning on a wild pitch before retiring Josh Delph to end the 7th.
With a 4-2 lead Johnson worked a quick 1-2-3 eighth inning and turned it back over to the Seminole offense in the bottom of the inning. Senior SS Justin Gonzalez provided a little more insurance with a leadoff home run.
But Florida State wasn't done.
Stewart singled followed by a Stephen McGee walk. The bases were loaded when the Rams couldn't get a handle on a Seth Miller sacrifice bunt and he reached safely. John Nogowski hit a sacrifice fly to deep left to drive in the sixth run of the game before Curran was able to get the final two outs and get out of the inning with the URI now trailing 6-2.
Johnson stayed on during the ninth and worked through a couple of errors for a scoreless final frame to give the Seminoles the win, 6-2, and improve them to 2-0 on the young season.
Florida State wraps up its series with URI tomorrow at noon.
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