June 8, 2003
Tallahassee, FL - In front of the largest crowd to ever witness a baseball game at Florida State's Dick Howser Stadium (6,524), the defending national champion Texas Longhorns (47-18) took the first game of the 2003 NCAA Tallahassee Super Regional 8-3. The Longhorns utilized a stellar outing by starter J.P. Howell (9-2) and multi-RBI games by Eric Sultemeier and Omar Quintanilla to down the tournament's top-seed Florida State (54-12-1). The win gave head coach Augie Garrido his 1,427th win, which ties the Texas coach for the all-time wins record among division I coaches.
"I thought that J.P. Howell pitched very well and kept us off balance and made us swing at some pitches that I am sure some our hitters wished they had left alone. He really located very well and had us swinging at some pitches out of the zone which is a real credit to him," said Florida State head coach Mike Martin.
Longhorn ace reliever Huston Street picked up his 13th save as he pitched three innings, allowed four hits and one run. Florida State's Rhett James (2-4) got tagged with the loss after pitching two-thirds of an inning and allowing one run. This is just the second-ever opening day win in a Super Regional for Texas and the third straight year FSU has lost the opener in a Super Regional. The Seminoles have never advanced to the College World Series after losing the first game in Super Regional play.
Texas got off to the exact start they wanted putting pressure on the top-seeded Seminole defense. Two walks and a double steal put runners on second and third with just one down in the first but a blown suicide squeeze and a strike out looking ended the Longhorn threat.
In the top of the third Texas thought they had broken through against Florida State starter Trent Peterson. Left fielder Sultemeier seemed to ground out but the throw pulled first baseman Jerrod Brown off the bag and a collision knocked the ball far enough into foul territory to allow Sultemeier to advance all the way to third. Florida State catcher Tony Richie threw down to first and got the out as the umpire ruled the runner never touched first base. The play was critical considering UT's next hitter singled, which would have scored the first run of the game.
Florida State put together its first real threat of the game in the bottom of the fourth. Two walks by starter Howell and a fielder's choice where the Texas defense failed to put out a runner at third loaded the bases with two outs for Brandon Manasa. The freshman was called into duty when starting shortstop Stephen Drew had to leave the game due to straining his hamstring while rounding second. The Miami, FL native drew a walk forcing home the first run of the day. The Seminoles moved out to a 2-0 lead on a play that should have ended the inning but a poor throw to first drew Curtis Thigpen off the bag allowing another run to score for FSU.
Texas rallied with two outs in the fifth to cut into the Seminole lead. After two ground outs to first, Peterson walked back-to-back Longhorns before Quintanilla's single through the right side plated a run for Texas. With runners on the corners and UT down 2-1, Peterson got 2003 All-American Dan Majewski swinging to end the threat.
Texas evened the game in the next inning as walks continued to hurt Peterson. The leftie started the inning with back-to-back walks raising his total to seven in the game. After a sac bunt moved the runners to second and third, outfielder Joe Ferin lined out to center but the fly was deep enough to plate the tying run. After the run scored, FSU starter Peterson was replaced by reliever Rhett James.
For the third consecutive inning the Longhorns got on the board as the defending national champs staged another two out rally. Tim Moss started things off as he doubled with one down in the inning. Reliever Kevin Lynch then struck out his second batter of the inning before intentionally walking Majewski. Another double steal set the table for Sultemeier whose two-out single scored two runs putting UT up 4-2. The Horns added to their lead when Taylor Teagarden smoked a double down the right field line for Texas' fifth run of the game and its fourth two-out RBI.
Florida State fought back in the bottom of the inning off reliever Street. After getting the first hitter, FSU strung together three straight singles to slice the Texas lead and close the gap at 5-3 on Eddy Martinez-Esteve's RBI single.
Texas came right back though as Moss and Quintanilla combined to hurt the Seminoles again in the top of the ninth. Moss led the inning off with a single and Quintanilla scored the speedy second baseman with a hard hit double down the left field line. Majewski then got into the act as he singled into right field and scored the Longhorns' seventh run of the game. Majewski would later score as he stole third and came home when the throw was knocked out of Chris Hart's glove on the slide.
Game two will take place at 7:00 p.m. Monday, June 9 and will be televised nationally by ESPN 2. If a third game is necessary, it will be played Tuesday June 10 at 12:00 and broadcast nation-wide by ESPN.