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June 01, 2013

Weaver, Seminoles Mow Down Trojans 11-0

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Luke Weaver sat in the post-game press conference with shaving cream matted in his hair, his eyes still blood-shot and stinging from some celebratory post game tomfoolery. 

That's what happens when you strike out 14 batters and dominate an NCAA Regional like Weaver did on Saturday. You get shaving creamed by Justin Gonzalez and Scott Sitz.

"You know, they only do it when you get interviewed on the field and nobody knew about it, I wasn't telling anybody about [the on-field interview]," joked Weaver. "During the whole interview I was just peeking the whole time thinking somebody was going to come."

But Sitz blindsided him in the lockerroom and after a brief chase around the clubhouse, Weaver just resigned himself to his fate and took a couple pies full of shaving cream from Sitz and Gonzalez to the face.

"My visions alright now, but it burned," he said laughing.

Unfortunately for Troy, Sitz and Gonzalez were the only ones that managed to catch up to Weaver on Saturday evening. The sophomore was virtually unhittable during eight scoreless innings that kept the Trojans thoroughly off balance.

"His fastball was really jumping on us," said Troy head coach Bobby Pierce. "We couldn't really make an adjustment to it, we were trying to, we were attempting to, but he hid the ball very well, he had good velocity, he commanded it well. Probably a season high in strikeouts I would imagine, didn't walk anybody in the process.

"We never really could get much stirring in any inning, really."

It was, in fact, a season high for strikeouts. It was the most strikeouts any FSU pitcher has thrown since 2006. Weaver also didn't walk anybody. He faced 26 batters, struck out 14, gave up just four hits, no walks and Troy never managed to string together anything beyond an attempt to score from first by the slow-footed Trae Santos on a double in the bottom of the 4th.

"A lot of times the team that scores first seems to get a little momentum, and certainly that was a big play [at home]," said Martin. 

Instead Florida State got on the board first with a three-run top of the 5th inning sparked by more good leadoff work from Seth Miller. After battling Troy starter Tanner Hicks for a walk, Miller ended up on third following a Giovanny Alfonzo single and an errant throw.

John Sansone and Josh Delph both made productive outs in the next two at-bats to bring Miller and Alfonzo in before DJ Stewart capped the inning with a mammoth solo home run to right-centerfield to make it 3-0.

Miller has been one of the Seminoles' biggest offensive weapons in the Tallahassee Regional. The senior CF has lead off five innings and reached in four of them. Overall he's hit 3 for 5 with five walks, a triple, two doubles and an RBI. Miller's on-base percentage in the regional has been .800 and he has sparked a three, a four and a five run inning by getting on to lead things off. On Saturday it was once again Miller who got the ball rolling for the 'Noles on offense.

"When I lead off it's my job just to get on base," said Miller. "We manufactured runs [tonight], that's just Seminole baseball."

The game got out of hand late when Troy went to its bullpen, but the final result wasn't indicative of how tight this one was for the first six innings.

"We’re just very proud of the way we played overall today,” said FSU head coach Mike Martin. “We knew it would be a tough ball game- it was. I know people might see the score and thing it was a so-called cakewalk, but it was a long way from that.

"We happened to get a home run in the sixth to go up 4-0 and [John Nogowski] hit one to make it five, and of course Coach Pierce was then looking at the future like any other coach would do, we just happened to score some more [late]."

Said Pierce: "We've scored in big numbers so many times this year we all thought that inning would come. It never did. But you credit Weaver for that."

Weaver wasn't even 100%. In the middle of the week the sophomore was forced to visit a doctor because of a fever and flu-like symptoms and was prescribed a Z-pak.

“I’m just very proud he wasn’t about to try to say ‘I don’t feel like I can go today,’” said Martin. “I already checked, he took his pill this morning and I may be looking for some of them bad boys myself.”

After DJ Stewart, Stephen McGee and Marcus Davis did the heavy lifting on Friday, driving in 9 of the team's ten runs, it was the bottom of the Florida State order that carried them on Saturday. The 5-9 hitters in the Seminole lineup combined for eight hits and drove in eight runs. 

John Nogowski connected with his first home run of the season in the 8th, he also tripled and drove in three. All Weaver needed was the three-run 5th, but FSU provided him with plenty of insurance beyond that.

Florida State has now won its two Regional games by a combined total of 21-0.

Next up the Seminoles will play the winner of tomorrow's Alabama-Troy elimination game at 5 PM with a chance to close out the Regional with a victory.

 

For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

(Photo courtesy of Ryan Syrkus)

Oczypok, Roberts Help Alabama Eliminate Savannah State

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The Alabama Crimson Tide staved off elimination and sent the Savannah State Tigers packing instead on Saturday afternoon in the Tallahassee NCAA Regional.

Leadoff man 3B Kenny Roberts went 3 for 4 to set the table for the Tide and starter Mike Oczypok fought off a blister to toss seven shut-out innings, but a late Savannah State rally pushed Alabama to the brink before they could escape with a 3-2 win.

"Right now this time of the year you'll take an ugly win," said Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard afterward. "That's certainly what it was today."

Alabama struck first when they pushed two runs across in the top of the 4th inning. 2B Kyle Overstreet singled to lead things off and SS Mikey White added a one-out single to put two on for 1B Austen Smith.

Just as he did when he homered yesterday, Smith came through with some offense for the Tide- this time in the form of an RBI double. The next batter Brett Booth added an RBI on a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0 Alabama.

The following inning the Tide added another run to their lead when CF Georgie Salem sent an RBI single to right to make it 3-0.

That ended up being all the offense Alabama could muster though.

Savannah State starter Jack May was solid on the day for the Tigers, working six innings, giving up seven hits and three earned runs while walking one and striking out two. Unfortunately, the SSU offense was able to provide little support for him against Oczypok.

"Give credit, I thought Mike Oczypok was tremendous," said Gaspard. "He developed a blister in about the third inning that he really battled through and got through seven innings with."

After failing to register a hit the first couple of innings the best the Tigers could do against the Bama freshman was threaten as Alabama's defense helped Oczypok escape jam after jam.

In the third inning 2B Darien Campbell lead off with a single and made it to third on a couple of sacrifice bunts, but Savannah State couldn't get him across. After stranding another runner in the fourth, the Tigers once again got a runner to third base in the fifth inning but left him hanging 90 feet from home when a ground-out ended the inning. 

Perhaps the Tigers' best opportunity to score against Oczypok came in the bottom of the 6th when SS Todd Hagen lead off with a double. After a couple of quick outs, RF David Richards singled through the right side of the infield on an 0-1 pitch but Hagen was gunned down at home on a perfect throw from Alabama RF Ben Moore.

"Missed opportunities," said SSU head coach Carlton Hardy. "Again, give credit to their starting pitcher, when we got a guy in scoring position, he went to his breaking ball and threw some quality pitches and their guys made plays behind him."

An inning later the Tigers stranded two more runners. Campbell hit a two-out single and 3B Michael McHugh got plunked by a pitch, but Oczypok rared back and struck out CF Antonio Scott swinging for the third out.

Perhaps most impressively, Oczypok did it without his best pitch.

"We had to get rid of the two-seam fastball, what I usually throw," said Oczypok after the game. "But our trainer did a great job of getting it ready before each inning, ever since before the game, throughout the whole game when it really started ripping open and then in the last inning it literally just ripped open."

That blister- and not the SSU offense- ultimately forced the Bama freshman to exit the game. Oczypok finished the afternoon after seven shutout innings having given up just six hits and a walk while striking out four.

Things came apart when Tucker Hawley relieved Oczypok in the bottom of the 8th though. After being unable to pick up any timely hits against Bama's starter, the Tigers quickly jumped on Hawley. Hagen picked up his second hit of the day on a leadoff single and 1B Kevin Herlihy brought him in on a double for Savannah State's first run of the weekend. 

Drew Quinney pinch hit next and hit another double, scoring Herlihy, to cut the Tide lead to 3-2. A passed ball would bring the tying run to third, but once again the Tide's defense helped them work out of it.

A one-out squeeze backfired and the lead runner was caught at home on the throw, a batter later C Chris Arnold grounded out and ended the threat.

"When that runner got to third, I just knew we were going to get out of it," said Roberts. "Tucker's an older guy, I felt he was going to step up and that's what he did."

Fortunately for Alabama the ninth proved much less eventful, Ray Castillo came on to pick up his 12th save of the season. The freshman did issue a walk, but a Tide double play quickly erased it and ended the ballgame.

Alabama will play the loser of tonight's FSU-Troy game tomorrow at noon. Savannah State's season is now over after going 0-2 in Regional play.

 

For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

(Photo courtesy of Ryan Syrkus)


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