March 14, 2006
Tallahassee, FL - Some in Seminole nation were worried that a newly minted No. 1 ranking would put a big bull's eye on FSU's back with a dangerous Winthrop squad (15-5) coming to town but just the opposite occurred. It seemed the Eagles' series wins at No. 21 Miami and at Alabama got FSU's attention to the tune of a 10-0 win Tuesday night. Barret Browning (4-0) had the best outing of his FSU career and Danny Diaz broke the game open with a bases loaded triple as FSU (19-1) set a new school record with its 27th straight home win. It was the team's 16th straight win overall, the longest active streak in the nation.
"They took two out of three at Alabama, they took two out of three at Miami, they are a good baseball team," said Seminole Ryne Malone who came up a triple shy of hitting for the cycle versus the Eagles. "With us being No. 1 it puts a target on our back but it is a lot of fun. It is really exciting. It is motivation for every single one of us to play the best we can."
"Being No. 1 didn't bring any extra pressure but I think everyone was well aware of the ball team that was coming in here," said Browning of Winthrop. "Nobody took them lightly. We were very aware of what they did to Miami and what they did to Alabama. They came in here and played a good ballgame. We happened to get a big hit and take the wind out of their sails."
Browning took the wind out of the Eagles sails all night long. The senior put together his longest start of the season as he threw six innings of shutout ball. It was the first time Browning did not allow a run in a start since February 6, 2005 versus VMI, the second start of his career. He did not walk a single batter, struck out two and threw just 69 pitches, 49 of which were strikes. It was the fourth straight win for the Jessup, GA native.
"I think this was one of the best starts I have had since I have been here at Florida State," said Browning. "That mostly goes to the defense. I didn't do a whole lot of shutting the guys down myself. I didn't strike a lot of guys out. I just got the ground balls I needed at the right time and our guys kept playing hard the entire game."
"Maybe (Browning) didn't strike out many guys but there weren't good swings against him," said FSU Head Coach Mike Martin. "I was very pleased with the fact he did not walk anybody. He had great composure."
The shutout was the fourth of the season for FSU doubling the total number of shutouts the team had in the entire 2005 season. It is already the most shutouts by an FSU team since the 2003 squad posted nine that year.
The bottom half of the Seminole batting order did most of the damage in the 10-0 win. The Seminoles' 6-9 hitters went 5-for-12 with six RBIs. Diaz led the team with a bases loaded triple plating three runs. Malone represented the top of the order going 3-for-3 with three runs scored and two RBIs. For Diaz it was his fifth straight game with a hit and he now has 10 RBIs in that stretch.
"I have been working with (Mike Martin, Jr.) a lot on shortening my swing, changing the location of my hands and just getting a lot more time to see the ball at the plate," said Diaz of his hot streak. "That has helped out a lot."
The Eagles threatened early versus FSU and against Browning who had given up eight of his 10 runs in the first three innings. An infield chopper and a sacrifice bunt put a runner in scoring position for Winthrop in the top of the first. Browning wiped the runner off the bases as he caught Chris Carrara trying to swipe third base.
"You get a man on second base with one out in the first inning and (Browning) showed great poise," said Martin. "When he saw that runner moving he went inside and picked him off. That has a way of just deflating a ball club."
FSU looked to break on top versus Winthrop starter Heath Rollins (2-3) as the right-hander walked two batters and the Seminoles ended up with runners on the corners with two away. FSU was unable to bring the run in though as the game moved to the second.
Winthrop put a runner in scoring position again in the second but once again couldn't plate the lead run versus Browning.
"Coach (Jamey) Shouppe has been doing a good job working with me to prepare myself for the game during the week and the day of the game," said Browning. "I am starting to pace myself a little better and get a lot more comfortable with my mechanics. I am throwing for strikes and hitting spots with my fastball. That has been a real key to my success."
The Seminoles put another runner in scoring position in the second but this time they cashed in. Tony Thomas, Jr. drew the third walk of the game and then swiped second. Tommy Oravetz broke the tie with a sharply hit single through the left side of the infield plating Thomas. FSU put two more runners in scoring position as Ryan Strauss doubled to right field but Rollins ended the threat with back-to-back K's.
Florida State broke the game open with a five-run third inning. Dennis Guinn started things off by drawing another FSU walk as Rollins already equaled a season high with his fourth walk in just over two innings. Ryne Malone followed with a single putting runners on the corners with nobody out. Winthrop's second error allowed one run to score and then a hit batter loaded the bases for the hot hitting Diaz. The junior catcher brought three runs home on the first triple of his career making it a 5-0 game. Strauss then came up with another hit as he singled home Diaz as FSU increased the lead to 6-0.
"I don't remember the last time I ran from home to third," said Diaz of his triple. "It has been a while probably high school. I hit the ball well, came out of the box well and made it all the way to third."
"I think this is a credit to our young men," said Martin. "We had the big inning getting five in the third. We had some great at bats. Certainly the big three run triple by Danny Diaz was the straw that broke the camels back."
The runs kept coming for Florida State in the fourth. After a deep fly ball out by Jack Rye, Dennis Guinn blasted a double off the screen. Then the third straight smash got over the fence as Malone homered for the fifth time this season. That two-run shot gave Malone 20 RBIs and made the Seminole advantage 8-0.
"It is funny because the other day before the Maryland game I looked over at my day and said `I really need to get a hold of one'," recalled Malone. "I had been struggling a little bit and I felt I needed to lace on, really get a hold of one. That's what happened tonight. I got a hold of a couple and it was real nice."
"(Malone) had three very good at bats tonight," said Martin of his clean-up hitter. "I am just very pleased for him. He had been hitting the ball fairly well without having anything to show for it."
Malone continued his big night as he moved within a triple of the cycle by doubling in the bottom of the sixth. The extra base hit moved Rye to third as FSU looked for more runs with just one away. Buster Posey plated the ninth run for FSU on a ground out and then Thomas extended his hit streak to 11 games with an RBI single making it a 10-0 game.
Florida State returns to ACC play as they take to the road for just the third time this season. FSU will play three day games at Virginia Tech with the first scheduled for Friday, March 17 at 3:00 p.m. Game Tracker will be available for every game this season along with a live radio broadcasts available on WFLA locally and free on the Internet at seminoles.com.