Feb. 24, 2006
Tallahassee, FL - Friday night's series opener between the sixth-ranked FSU baseball team and the University of Minnesota turned out to be a showcase for the two starting pitchers. While Gopher hurler Brian Bull (0-1) took the loss, the senior was magnificent in holding the Seminoles (8-1) without a hit during his five innings of work and allowing just one unearned run. He was matched by Seminole ace Bryan Henry (3-0) who went seven innings and did not allow a run himself as he and two other FSU pitchers shutout Minnesota sending them to their first loss of the year. The win moved FSU Head Coach Mike Martin one away from joining a very exclusive club in college baseball as he recorded his 1,399th win.
"You have to credit the leftie (Bull), he was impressive," said Martin. "I think we got a break. If it hadn't been February 24, we would have seen that guy for two or three more innings. He is a guy that really competed well. I haven't seen many that could dominate us like he did. We got a break. No doubt about it."
As good as Bull was, Henry was excellent himself. Although he gave up a season-high seven hits, the junior spread the hits around as he threw 95 pitches on the night. Henry increased his streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 15 and was a part of the second shutout of his career and both have come in back-to-back starts.
"Bryan competed well tonight," said Martin. "He had a couple of pitches he got away with. He wasn't as sharp as you usually see Bryan Henry, believe it or not. He is such a good competitor though."
"I was making pitches early on," said Henry. "I was making them chase, keeping them off balance. I started to get a little tired and they started to catch on a little bit. I just let my defense work there."
This was the third quality start of the season for Henry and the 11th quality start of his career. Henry has gone at least 5 2/3 innings in each of his four starts in 2006 and has either equaled or increased his innings pitched from his previous start each time out. Henry fanned eight batters, six in the first three innings, and walked just two Gophers. While his streak of innings without a walk ended at 16, Henry has now struck out 17 batters in the last two games, which is a personal best for the right-hander. Henry has also gone back-to-back starts without allowing a run for the first time in his career.
"The goal is to get better each time," said Henry. "I have to work harder this week because I made a couple mistakes out there. I need to improve on that. Each week there is something to improve on and now I have another week to get better."
On a night when FSU was held to just four hits three went for extra bases. While no Seminole recorded a multi-hit game, Ryne Malone was the star at the plate. The junior's two-run homer broke the game open. It was the second of the season for the third baseman and the 21st of his career.
"I got up in a good situation," said Malone. "The good thing about only getting four hits tonight is that we got them when we needed them. We got extra base hits when we needed them and did a good job once we got runners on getting guys in."
Minnesota out hit FSU 9-4, walked just two batters and struck out six. The Golden Gophers were down just 1-0 going into the bottom of the sixth inning and ended up stranding eight runners.
"We knew we were in for a big challenge tonight and for the rest of the weekend," said Malone. "The main thing is our pitchers just shut them down with a zero on the scoreboard and we also had a zero in the error column. We played tight defense and that's all you could ask for in a game like this with two great pitchers."
The Gophers mounted the first serious threat of the game in the top of the third as a couple of singles put runners on first and second with two outs. Right fielder Mike Mee then sent a Henry pitch deep to center field. All-American Shane Robinson twisted and turned and came up with the catch while falling down on the warning track keeping the game scoreless.
A couple of Gopher mistakes put FSU in business in the bottom of the third. Tony Thomas, Jr. reached on an error and moved to second on a balk. Thomas then came around to score as Danny Diaz and Josh Spivey each did well against the left hander allowing the second baseman to score the game's first run on back-to-back ground outs.
Henry led of the fourth with a four-pitch walk ending his streak of 16 consecutive innings without a free pass but Minnesota was unable to score against the junior as he raised his shutout streak to 12 innings at that point.
A walk and a hit batter put two more runners on for FSU as the Seminoles still searched for their first hit of the game. It looked like they were going to get the first one on a three-run homer. Dennis Guinn sent a shot to the deepest part of the park but Minnesota's Taylor VanderAarde was able to get under the warning track shot.
Bull, who was on a pitch count, left the game in the sixth despite not allowing a Seminole hit and throwing just 77 pitches. After reliever Reid Mahon got the first batter of the game, Jack Rye broke up the Gopher attempted no-hitter with a slow roller just behind second base that the shortstop couldn't come up with. The next batter made Minnesota pay. Malone took a 1-1 offering over the screen in right field for his second homer of the season and the 21st of his FSU career making it a 3-0 game.
"To be honest I don't think any of us realized we didn't have a hit after the third or fourth inning," said Malone. "I looked over at Jack (Rye) and said `we don't have a hit yet' and we need to do something about this before it gets too late. We battled against their pitchers who did a great job, hats off to them."
"I wasn't expecting them (Minnesota) to be this ready to play," said Martin. "I knew that they would be competitive. (Minnesota Head Coach) John Anderson always puts a great team on the field. They were 18-12 in their league last year and just missed winning the conference championship. I figured they would be good but not a team that would double us in hits and put a leftie out there to no hit us for five."
Florida State added to its lead in the eighth thanks to a hit by pitch and back-to-back doubles. Travis Anderson and Guinn each hit doubles driving in runs as FSU went in front 5-0.
Florida State and Minnesota resume their series at 1:00 pm Saturday. Game Tracker will be available for all the contests along with a live radio broadcasts available on WFLA locally and free on the Internet at seminoles.com.