May 15, 2005
Tallahassee, FL - For the second straight day the 11th-ranked Florida State baseball team got a walk-off hit to upset the eighth-ranked Tar Heels. Senior catcher Aaron Cheesman singled home the game-winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning on senior day to complete FSU's sweep of North Carolina. It was the first three-game series sweep of a ranked opponent for Florida State (46-14, 18-9) this season and it was also the first time UNC had been swept in an ACC series since Carolina visited Tallahassee in 2001. It was the team's 10th straight win and the Seminoles' 46 wins are more than they totaled in all of 2004 when the team made it to Super Regionals.
"It is weird how this season reminds me of the 2002 season when we won 60 games and went on a 25-game winning streak," said Cheesman. "We really got hot at the right time and secured a No. 1 seed. It seems to be playing out the same way this year. Our guys are just getting better each week and just playing baseball."
"For Aaron to get that hit on senior day was very fitting," said FSU head coach Mike Martin. "He means so much to our program. I am so happy for him."
The walk-off single capped a four-run comeback as the Seminoles fell behind Carolina 6-2 in the fourth inning. Despite leaving a season-high 19 runners on base, Florida State fought back thanks to the brilliant work of the Seminole bullpen that shut the Heels down for seven straight innings setting the stage for the comeback.
"I think we showed our character when we fell behind by four runs with (UNC starter Daniel) Bard on the mound. Gosh that is a good looking arm. Bard pitched extremely well," said Martin. "What we did really showed me a lot. I was impressed with the poise and perseverance we showed. I'll tell you what it was one of the best weekends of record because so much was riding on this."
"We don't quit. This team works hard," said Cheesman. "We come out early and do the little things to get better each week. We aren't satisfied. I am real proud of our guys. We go down 6-2 and haven't played particularly well on Sundays. We have been preaching all year we need to sweep opponents. Our guys kept battling to keep us in position to win this game. It was a total team effort to comeback and sweep this series from a great Carolina team."
Tyler Chambliss (6-3) equaled a career high with 3 1/3 innings of work as he picked up the win. Overall, the Seminole pen pitched eight innings, allowed one run, struck out eight batters and issued just two walks. Barret Browning had another strong outing out of the pen as he went 3 2/3 and held the Heels scoreless.
"Our bullpen did a great job," said Martin. "We held them scoreless for seven straight innings after they went up 6-2. That is impressive because Carolina is a good offensive club. Barret really kept us in the ballgame and I like what he gives us out of the pen."
Both starters cruised through the first two innings combining to allow just two hits and five strikeouts. The Heels put together the first threat of the game together in the top of the third when the first two batters reached off FSU starter Hunter Jones. With the Seminole corners pinching in for a sac bunt, the Heels pulled off the double steal putting both runners in scoring position. Jones got the first out on a sac fly that made it a 1-0 game. A single to left by Justin Webb brought another run home as UNC broke on top 2-0 for the second straight day.
Shane Robinson and Ryne Malone both singled with one out in the third as FSU looked to answer the Heels' top of the inning. Gibbs Chapman cut the lead in half with FSU's third straight single putting runners on the corners in the 2-1 game. A Cheesman sacrifice fly tied up the game at 2-2.
Carolina's Seth Williams led off the fourth with a base hit, his second of the game, and he moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Another UNC base hit put runners on the corners with nobody out. Jones' second walk of the game loaded the bases with FSU still searching for the first out. Brian Chambers came into the game and lost the lead on a wild pitch making the score 3-2 before issuing another FSU walk to load the bases again. A fielder's choice ground out extended the lead to 4-2 with runners still on the corners. A ground out and another single drove in two more runs putting the Heels up 6-2 with the four run fourth.
Browning opened the fifth on the mound but the Tar Heels continued to have success against the FSU pitching staff. A single, a walk and a steal put runners on second and third with just one away in the inning but a strikeout and ground out quickly ended the threat.
Bard opened the bottom of the fifth by walking the first two batters he faced but a strikeout and fielder's choice looked like it ended the threat as FSU had runners on the corners with two away. Bard walked the bases loaded though but FSU could not cash in as a ground out ended the threat.
Defensive replacement Nick Francis drew a one out walk in the sixth and Tony Thomas, Jr. singled as FSU tried to get something going versus Bard. The hurler's fifth walk of the day loaded the bases for Malone who was 15-for-25 in two seasons against UNC. The sophomore delivered once again as he doubled to the right field corner making it a 6-4 game. New Heel hurler Matt Danford hit Chapman to load the bases for the third time in two innings. Cheesman then recorded his second sac fly of the game cutting the Carolina lead to 6-5.
Malone got on base for the fifth time on the day to lead off the bottom of the eighth thanks to an errant throw that allowed the sophomore to go all the way to second. Chapman was then hit by a pitch to put two runners on with nobody away. Cheesman's third sacrifice of the day moved both runners into scoring position as Wardell drove in the tying run on a ground out to third.
Florida State tried to repeat Saturday's game with a walk-off hit in the ninth as a bunt single and a hit by pitch put runners on with nobody out. Malone then sacrificed both runners over before an intentional walk loaded the bases. Cheesman couldn't drive the winning run in though as he grounded into an inning ending double play.
"With bases loaded there is a force at the plate so we aren't looking to bunt," said Martin. "Aaron handles the bat well and stays composed as you saw in the 11th."
"I just didn't make a good swing on it," said Cheesman who came to the plate with the bases loaded three times in the game. "It was a great pitch to hit but he jammed me. Coach Martin has all the trust in the world in his players and he leaves it up to us to win games."
Carolina put runners on the corners with just one away in the top of the tenth as they looked to avoid a series sweep but ace closer Chambliss recorded back-to-back K's with runners on second and third to end the threat.
Francis led off the 11th with an infield single off new pitcher Tyler Trice. Thomas then sacrificed Francis to second. After Robinson was intentionally walked, the Heels got Malone to pop up for the second out. A wild pitch moved the winning run 90 feet away. A walk to Chapman loaded the bases once more setting the stage for Cheesman's heroics as he looped a shot into shallow center driving in the winning run.
Florida State will wrap-up the home portion of its 2005 schedule Tuesday night against Jacksonville. It may be the last time fans will have a chance to see the 2005 FSU baseball team play at Mike Martin Field. Game Tracker will be available for all this year's games along with Steve Melewski's live radio broadcast available on WFLA locally and on the Internet at seminoles.com.
Florida State recorded career high walks off UNC starters in back-to-back games. FSU has won 10 straight games, the second longest win streak this season. This was the 14th time in the last 15 games FSU has defeated UNC in Tallahassee. Seminole relief pitchers have recorded 20 of FSU's 46 wins this season. Cheesman is alone in second place for single season sacrifices with 18. Gibbs Chapman recorded the 100th RBI of his career.