June 1, 2003
Tallahassee, FL - No. 1 Florida State (53-11-1) stayed alive in its bid for a fifth straight Super Regional bid as the Seminoles blasted South Alabama (42-18) 13-5 on championship Sunday at the Tallahassee regional. Stephen Drew led Florida State at the plate going 2 for 5 with five RBIs. Senior Daniel Davidson was stellar on the mound as he improved to 10-0 throwing his first complete game of the season in the win. Florida State staged two comebacks to secure the win.
Just as they did in the first meeting, South Alabama jumped out to a quick lead as they broke on top in the second inning. The Jaguars started the inning with back-to-back singles as they continued to display the top team batting average in the regional at .377 entering Sunday. Kevin Sytko (Surrey, B.C.) then knocked in his tournament-leading seventh RBI on a ground out to third for the 1-0 lead.
The Jaguars built on their lead in the top of the fourth as senior Ryan Mulhern (Highlands Ranch, CO) continued to tear up the regional. The left fielder blasted his second round-tripper of the tournament as he upped his RBI total to six for the weekend with three coming against the top-ranked Seminoles. The home run put USA in front 2-0.
Florida State answered right back in the bottom of the fourth on a huge two-out double by Drew (Hahira, GA). With the bases loaded and two gone in the inning, an error at short extended the Seminoles' at bat and brought Drew to the plate. The 2002 Baseball America Freshman of the Year laced USA starter Frank Elia's (3-2) offering into the gap in right center clearing the bases and putting FSU up 3-2.
As they did in the first meeting, USA came right back and evened the game in the fifth. The Jaguars used a lead-off double by Sytko, his first of the regional, a sac bunt and a ground out to pull even. Despite his seven RBIs, it was just the second run scored all weekend by the senior.
The game continued to go back and forth as FSU jumped back into the lead off reliever Caleb Crosby in the home half of the inning. The Seminoles broke the game open with eight runs and six hits. Unlike the two-out rally in the previous inning, FSU did most of its damage with no outs in the fifth. A single, a walk and a hit loaded the bases for Blake Balkcom (Chipley, FL) who singled home two runs. A Jerrod Brown (Auburndale, FL) single loaded the bases again for Clearwater, FL native Chris Hart. The senior cleared the bags with his 10th double of the season as he plated FSU's fifth run of the inning. Drew, the hero in the fourth, came through again as he drove in two more runs raising his RBI total to five in the game. He then upped the Tribe's lead to 11-5 when he trotted home on a throwing error by the USA catcher.
Florida State and South Alabama take the field at 5:40 p.m. Sunday, June 1 in the rematch with the right to advance to the Super-Regional on the line. The Seminoles will look to repeat their magic from 2000 when they took two from UCF on a Sunday to move on to the Super Regional. The Jaguars will be looking to move on to their first-ever Super Regional.