Florida State baseball celebrated its 50th season in grand fashion as the Seminoles added a bit more tradition to their already rich history.
Seminole fans watched history in the making as FSU sluggers J.D. Drew and Jeremy Morris rewrote the Florida State and Atlantic Coast Conference record books while they led the 1997 team to their second ACC Championship in three years.
With a 50-17 (18-6 ACC) record last season, Mike Martin's Seminoles reached the 50-win plateau for the 17th time in history. The Seminoles made their 20th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Regionals, hosting the NCAA East Regional at Dick Howser Stadium. FSU breezed into the tournament on a nine-game winning streak, hot off a five-game sweep in the ACC Tournament.
As the No. 1 seed, FSU defeated Marist and Central Florida before facing undefeated Auburn. The Seminoles looked strong in the early going as they led 7-1, but David Ross' three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning gave Auburn an 8-7 victory. Florida State battled back that night to defeat South Florida, 6-5, but the Seminoles would have to beat Auburn twice to return to the Omaha. The Tribe overpowered the Tigers, 9-7, in the first championship game, but Auburn cruised to a 5-2 win in the second game, knocking Florida State out of the College World Series for the first time in three years.
The Seminole pitching staff went the distance during the ACC Tournament as four starters threw complete games. Freshman John Bentley started the ball rolling as he held off Duke with a complete-game victory in the first round, while sophomore Chris Chavez brought all of the momentum into the championship game against Clem-son in front of a strong Seminole crowd at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg.
Chavez shut down the Tigers, hurling a one-hit shutout to give the Seminoles a 10-0 win and their second ACC Championship. Chavez earned Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week honors for his outstanding performance. As a whole, Seminole pitchers posted a 2.00 ERA, a 1.79 opponent batting average and used their bullpen for just 1 2/3 innings over five games.
Six Seminoles were named to the ACC All-Tournament Team Drew, Chavez, Randy Choate, Scott Zech, Jeremy Salazar and ACC Tournament MVP Jeremy Morris. Morris batted .381 with seven RBI and two home runs to lead Florida State in the five game tournament.
The Tribe's golden anniversary season boasted one of FSU's toughest schedules in recent years as they played 26 games against ranked opponents, including 10 games versus Top 10 opponents in February alone. The Seminoles posted a 14-12 record against ranked competition, 22 of which were against Top 10 opponents where the Tribe earned an 11-11 mark.
J.D. Drew made collegiate baseball history against Central Florida in the NCAA East Regional as he hit his 30th home run of the season, a grand slam, becoming the only player to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a single season. Drew is also one of just three players in NCAA history to record a triple-triple 100 hits, 100 runs scored and 100 RBI.
Drew garnered a host of awards including five player of the year honors, while Randy Choate and Jeremy Morris also earned All-American honors from practically every publication and organization.
A total of 22 individual FSU and ACC records fell during the 1997 season, including 17 by J.D. Drew. The junior centerfielder set school marks in batting average, slugging percentage, runs scored, base on balls and grand slams. Drew also set ACC records in home runs, slugging percentage, runs scored, total bases and base on balls. Jeremy Morris set a new FSU career doubles record and ACC records for season and career RBI.
Florida State had six players selected in the 1997 Major League Draft, including J.D. Drew who was the second pick by the Philadelphia Phillies. Randy Choate (5th) and Jeremy Morris (8th) were both selected by the New York Yankees. Scott Zech (14th-Montreal), Randy Niles (20th-Oakland) and Matt Woodward (31st-Seattle) were also drafted by professional teams.||