April 12, 2005
Jacksonville, FL - Baseball can be a cruel game. You just have to ask Jacksonville University head coach Terry Alexander how cruel it can be. For the second straight meeting his Dolphins (17-20) entered the fifth inning either tied or with a lead over a Seminole team that has beaten them 31 of the last 32 times they have played only to see a big inning continue the FSU winning streak. Tuesday night it was a six-run seventh in which FSU recorded just one hit as Florida State (33-8) downed JU 11-4 extending the Seminoles' consecutive victory streak over the Dolphins to 12 in a row.
Florida State entered the seventh tied 4-4 with JU but the Seminoles put up six runs on just one hit, a Ryne Malone bases loaded triple, to break the game wide open. Malone tied a career high with five RBIs and got his first triple of the season as he recorded his 10th extra base hit in the last six games. Bryan Henry (2-2) picked up the win in relief as he went five innings and gave up just three hits. He allowed one unearned run and struck out four without issuing a walk.
"We obviously showed very good discipline at the plate tonight and that was evident in the seventh inning," said FSU head coach Mike Martin. "We bunted well and got a couple of breaks in that inning. It was a game where we stayed persistent. JU did a great job of keeping us off balance most of the game and we were very fortunate to win this ball game."
Malone was the only Seminole with a multi-hit game on the night and one of just two players with multi-RBIs as JU out hit the Seminoles 10-7. Malone has been the Seminoles hottest hitter as of late. After recording 21 hits in his first 28 games, the 2005 Brooks Wallace National Player of the Year candidate has 20 hits, 10 of which have gone for extra bases, in his last 12 games.
"I am feeling pretty good and I am seeing the ball a lot better lately," said Malone. "I have been working hard at it and my teammates have allowed me to come up in good situations. I am just doing what I can to help us win.
"The thing with baseball is that the game will humble you just as quick as it will reward you. It is going to be an up and down season and things are just going to get tougher. This team is going to keep working hard and so am I."
Tony Thomas, Jr. was the only other FSU batter with multiple RBIs as he continued his torrid hitting against the Dolphins. The freshman went 1-for-2 with his third home run of the season. In three games against the Dolphins Thomas is 5-for-6 with four RBIs, two home runs and a whopping 10 runs scored.
Jacksonville starter Brett Nagy got off to a great start for the Dolphins. He got Robinson to pop up on the first pitch of the game and then struck out the next two batters watching strike three. FSU starter Ryan Strauss didn't get off to quit as good a start as he gave up two hits putting runners on the corners with one away in the first but the freshman got a weak grounder to second to close out the inning.
Without the benefit of a hit, FSU mounted its first scoring threat versus Nagy. Brant Peacher was hit by a pitch and then Gibbs Chapman drew a walk to put a couple runners on base. Nagy got out of the second out on his third and fourth strikeouts of the game.
Jacksonville put two more runners on in the second on a walk and a single. With one away and runners on first and second, Strauss got his second out on a K looking. The freshman then loaded the bases as he plunked JU's lead-off hitter. Strauss came back and got ahead of the next hitter 0-2 on two breaking balls but Sean McHugh took the fourth pitch he saw and drove it back up the middle for a two-run single. It was the second straight game in which JU jumped out to a 2-0 lead on FSU. JU added to the lead on an infield single that looked like it ended the inning after a flip toss to second from Thomas but the runner was ruled safe at second allowing the run to come all the way around from second base. It was the sixth straight game Florida State fell behind early despite posting a 4-2 record in that stretch.
Thomas led off the third by falling behind 0-2 but managed to work out a walk giving FSU its third base runner of the game without its first hit. Robinson then broke up Nagy's no hit bid with his 18th double of the season putting two Seminoles in scoring position with nobody out. It was the 56th consecutive game in which the All-American candidate has reached base. Malone then drove in the first two of his five RBIs as he hit his seventh double in the last six games driving both runs in and cutting the lead to 3-2. Nagy continued to labor through the third as he walked Aaron Cheesman on a 3-2 pitch and then Jack Rye sacrificed the runners over on a bunt down the third base line. A walk to Peacher loaded the bases and then Chapman added to his team-leading RBI total with his 34th tying the game at 3-3 on a single. That closed the door on Nagy and brought Ashley Roque into the game and he proceeded to get the second out of the inning on a strike out looking. The senior then lost Danny Wardell next forcing in the Seminoles fourth run on the bases loaded walk.
With FSU in the lead, the Seminoles brought Henry into the game in the bottom of the third. Henry got the first two batters he faced and then gave up an infield single on a dribbler to third. Jacksonville's Matt Lopez easily beat the throw but in an attempt to get him out at first the ball was thrown away allowing the short stop to get to second. The error came back to hurt as the next batter doubled down the right field line allowing Lopez to come home from second tying the game at 4-4.
Wardell drew his second straight walk to lead off the sixth before Thomas sacrificed the runner to second with the top of the Seminole order due up. Roque walked Robinson on four straight pitches to put two runners on but a deep fly ball to left with the runners going on the pitch accounted for the second out of the frame as both runners had to retreat back to their original bases. Roque, who set a personal career high for innings pitched, then ended the inning on a ground ball to short.
New JU pitcher Aaron Parvey (0-1) opened the disasterous seventh on the hill for JU as the Seminoles countered with right-handed hitting Ruairi O'Connor. Parvey faced just the one batter and walked O'Connor on four straight pitches. Brandon Manasa replaced O'Connor at first and JU then brought former Seminole Hunter Davis into the ball game. He got the first batter on a shallow fly to right center but the Seminoles, who couldn't move the runner over on a sac by Peacher, got Manasa to second on a passed ball. Chapman then laid down a sac bunt and catcher Alex Jamieson went to third with the throw. With no force play on, Manasa didn't beat the throw but he did beat the tag. Jernigan, who made two unsuccessful attempts at laying down a bunt as Manasa charged home on the safety squeeze, loaded the bases up when he got hit by a pitch. With the sacks full, Davis got a pop up to short for the second out as he came one step closer to escaping the jam. The Dolphins then once again were hurt with their ninth walk of the game as Thomas drove home the leading run on another JU free pass. It was the sophomore's fifth walk in three games against JU. That scored Manasa and eventually ended up tagging Parvey with the loss despite facing just that one hitter. Jacksonville's 10th walk of the game, this one to Robinson, made it a 6-4 FSU lead. Malone then came up and it looked like he had drawn FSU's third straight walk as Davis went 3-0 and then seemed to miss on his fourth pitch as Malone headed to first but he had to come back to the plate on the strike call. It ended up being the best thing that could have happened as a few pitches later Malone blasted a 3-2 Davis pitch off the wall in right field clearing the bases with the triple and boosting the FSU lead to 9-4.
"We did a good job that entire inning," said Malone. We got base runners on and we were very selective at the plate. I was fortunate enough to get up there with the bases loaded. I got a good pitch and I did what I could with it."
Jacksonville was unable to get out of the seventh as the FSU advantage grew to 10-4 when Cheesman, who got on with a walk, swiped second. The throw down sailed into center allowing Malone to trot home with sixth run of the frame.
Thomas continued his hot hitting in the Jacksonville series as he opened the ninth with a solo home run off new Dolphin pitcher Josh Deel completing the Seminoles comeback from the early 2-0 deficit.
The Seminoles are back on the road this weekend for a series with No. 4 Georgia Tech. All three games will be televised. Friday's opener will be shown on Fox, Saturday's game will be the ACC Game of the Week and will be carried on Sun Sports as will Sunday's series finale.
Last season the Yellow Jackets swept FSU in the regular season marking the first time ever FSU was swept at home. The Seminoles came back and took the final two games of the ACC Tournament from Tech to capture the conference crown. Game Tracker will be available for all FSU's 2005 games along with Steve Melewski's live radio broadcast available on WFLA locally and on the Internet at seminoles.com.