Sands, Busby Lead Noles Past Duke, into #ACCBase Final
W - C. Sands (6-3)
L - A. Laskey (4-5)
|FSU - D. Busby||5||2||3||3||0||1|
|FSU - T. Walls||3||2||2||0||1||0|
|FINAL BOX SCORE|
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – For the third straight season, Florida State (38-20) will play in the ACC Baseball Championship Game after defeating Duke 5-1 Saturday afternoon at Louisville Slugger Field. Cole Sands (6-3) set career-highs for innings pitched (6.2) and strikeouts (8), while tallying season-lows in hits allowed (2) and walks (0) and sat down 15 consecutive Duke (30-28) hitters from the first to sixth innings.
“No question that the key to the ballgame was the outstanding pitching Cole Sands gave us,” head coach Mike Martin said. “It was unfortunate that the weather came like it did and he wasn't able to finish the seventh, but got a good relief group that did an outstanding job."
A 90-minute rain delay halted the game in the seventh inning, with FSU leading 5-0. Sands was one of four FSU pitchers that combined to allow just five hits and strikeout 11 without giving up a walk.
Offensively, FSU's top three hitters were 7-for-11 with five runs scored, four RBI, three doubles, a triple and a home run, as well as drawing three walks. Taylor Walls had a pair of hits and two walks; Dylan Busby had two doubles and his team-high 13th home run of the season; and Jackson Lueck hit a triple and added a seventh-inning single.
For the second consecutive game, eight-seed Florida State scored a pair of first-inning runs to take a 2-0 lead on the ninth-seeded Blue Devils. Busby hit his third double of the tournament off the right field wall, and scored on Lueck's first triple of the season and third of his career. Lueck scored on Quincy Nieporte's team-high 70th RBI of the year.
In the third inning, Walls doubled off the left field wall and Busby launched his 13th home run of the season to double FSU's lead to 4-0. Busby's home run was his fifth in the ACC Championship over the past two seasons after hitting four as a sophomore in 2016.
Busby added his third RBI of the game in the fourth with his second double of the game, scoring Walls. Saturday was Busby's first career game with three extra-base hits.
On the mound, Sands was dominant from the very beginning. The sophomore from Tallahassee set career-highs with 6.2 innings pitched and eight strikeouts before being pulled after the rain delay. Sands also did not allow a walk for the first time in 15 starts this season, while the two hits allowed were also his fewest this year.
“I think fastball command, and just tried getting ahead on all the hitters,” Sands said of what was working for him Saturday. “That opened up to throwing some off-speed for strikes, and then just commanding the fastball really helped me.”
After allowing a first-inning single to Michael Smiciklas, Sands retired 15 consecutive hitters before allowing a one-out single in the sixth to Chris Proctor. Smiciklas was hit by a pitch to advance Proctor to second, but Sands forced a Griffin Conine groundout to get out of the frame unscathed.
Sands was pulled after striking out Jack Labosky and getting Kennie Taylor to groundout before the rain delay. Chase Haney recorded two outs, Alec Byrd recorded three, and Jim Voyles entered to retire the final two hitters. Duke pushed its only run across in the ninth inning on three consecutive singles, but Voyles force Zack Kone to fly out to center field to end the game.
“That was his best outing...and it's encouraging,” Martin said of Sands. “There is another classic example of what I was alluding to - a young man that's gotten stronger, he's maturing, and he had the best outing of the year.
“Now, let's carry that forward. Hopefully when he pitches again, he'll be a different guy. Meaning, even better. He had a good outing obviously.”
Florida State will play in its third-consecutive ACC Baseball Championship Game against either 2-seed North Carolina or 6-seed Miami. The Seminoles lost all three games against the Tar Heels in Tallahassee by a combined seven runs, while FSU split in Coral Gables against the Hurricanes before Sunday's finale was rained out.
Neither team has announced a starting pitcher at this time.
This is Florida State's 13th appearance in the Championship Game since joining the ACC in 1992. FSU has won six, most recently in 2015 in Durham, N.C. The Seminoles have never played Miami or North Carolina in an ACC Championship Game. FSU is 2-2 all-time against the Hurricanes, and 10-1 against the Tar Heels.
- Jackson Lueck's first-inning triple extended his hitting streak to a team-high and career-long 13 games. It was also his 13th straight game reaching base, a new career high.
- Busby's home run in the third inning, estimated at 413 feet, was his team-high 13th of the season. It also is his 36th career home run, most among active players in the ACC.
- Saturday's game was the first of Busby's career with three extra-base hits.
- Busby's third-inning home run was FSU's 61st of the season, the most for FSU since 2011 (61 in 65 games). In 2010, FSU hit 86 home runs in 68 games.
- In seven games over the past two ACC Championships, Lueck and Busby are hitting a combined 30-for-56 (.536) with 20 runs scored, 22 runs batted in, nine doubles, a triple, seven home runs and nine walks drawn.
- Starting pitcher Cole Sands set career-highs with eight strikeouts and 6.2 innings pitched before being pulled after a 90-minute rain delay in the seventh inning. Sands' previous highs were seven strikeouts (four times) and 6.0 innings (seven times).
- Away from Tallahassee, Florida State improved to 6-0 when Sands starts. Sands pitched 32.2 innings, allowing 28 hits and 14 earned runs while striking out 33.
- Florida State improved to 10-1 in the past three ACC Championships, and reached the ACC Final for a third-straight year. It is the first time since FSU reached the Final in 2009-11 that a team has reached three straight.
- FSU improved to 7-0 in the ACC Championship against the Blue Devils. FSU moved to 2-0 against Louisville and 1-0 against Notre Dame in the ACC Championship with wins in pool play.
- Florida State hit for the cycle as a team for the third time this season. FSU is 3-0 in such games (at Virginia Tech, at Notre Dame).
- Cal Raleigh started his 108th-consecutive game at catcher, and is the only Seminole to play every game in 2017.
- Florida State did not allow a walk as a team for the fifth time this season, and the third time in the month of May (5/6 vs. Pacific, 5/13 vs. Wake Forest).
For more information on Florida State baseball, check Seminoles.com for the latest news and scheduling information, or keep up with the team on social media through Twitter (@FSUBaseball), Facebook (/FSUBaseball), and Instagram (@NoleBaseball).