Lynch tossed a three-hit shutout and Tony Richie and Jerrod Brown provided the offensive muscle as top-ranked Florida State upended fourth-seeded Jacksonville 6-0 in NCAA Regional play at Dick Howser Stadium Friday night.
Lynch, the Seminoles' senior left-hander, had surrendered 17 earned runs and 29 hits in his last three regional appearances.
The Seminoles (51-10-1) play second-seeded South Alabama (41-17) Saturday at 3 p.m., with the winner moving into Sunday's championship round. The Jaguars blitzed third-seeded Rutgers (36-21) 14-1 in the tourney's opening game.
Jacksonville (32-29), 1-5 versus the Seminoles all-time in postseason play, and Rutgers tangle in an elimination game at 11 a.m. The survivor advances to Saturday's second elimination game at 7 p.m.
"He was outstanding," JU coach Terry Alexander said of Lynch.
"He had us guessing at pitches. I think it was more a great perfomance by him than it was a poor performance by us. We hit a few balls hard, right at some people, but for the most part he was in total command."
Relying heavily on a slider and inside fastball, Lynch (13-3) kept the Dolphins off balance and registered his first complete game of the season. He fanned a season-high eight and retired 21 consecutive hitters after surrendering a two-out double to Chad Hauseman in the top of the first.
"He's probably one of the best guys I've faced all year," Hauseman said. "Just the way he was pitching the ball in that ballgame – you just couldn't get a tendency on him. You sit up there looking for fastballs, and he drops in the curveball on the first pitch. It's tough for the hitters. We played well, but it's tough when you run against a guy who's hot like that."
Lynch, who has fiddled with his mechanics most of the season, demonstrated impressive control.
"I was able to get ahead with my slider," Lynch said. "Once I did that, I was bringing my fastball in. After we started working with that, we went from there and everything was just clicking."
FSU scored a run in each of the first three innings, and Brown put the game out of reach with a towering two-run homer in the fifth. The Seminoles also survived just fine without standout shortstop Stephen Drew, who missed the game with flu-like symptons and replaced by Bryan Zech. Drew, who last missed a game earlier this season at Stanford, is expected back Saturday.
Richie (3-for-4) recorded his fourth three-hit game in the past six games and Blake Balkcom extended his hitting streak to 17 games for the Seminoles. But FSU relied on the veteran Lynch to help set the tone against the Dolphins – and erase his past postseason struggles.
"I just wanted to get us a win, to get us of on the right foot," Lynch said. "Coach (Mike Martin) talked about it this week, saying we needed to approach this game like any other. And that's what we did."
Entering the tourney, FSU outfielder Tony McQuade said it was important to remain focused despite the disappointment following the Seminoles' defeat to Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament last weekend.
McQuade also believes the team is motivated to help Martin win the program's first CWS.
"He will win a World Series. There's no doubt about that," McQuade said.
"Hopefully, it'll be this year. We've got good enough players, and we click well. Our pitching, our defense, our offense – everything is on right now. This is the time when you want it to be on. I think last year, we may have peaked a little too early. Now, we may have peaked just in the right time to carry us another four weeks."
Lynch, who lost the first game of that series, has been determined to erase the sting of the postseason setback. Now, with FSU once again the nation's top team, Lynch has started the postseason on the right foot.
"I didn't come through (last season) – I lost to Notre Dame," Lynch said. "It woke me up for this season. I've got a desire. I really didn't pitch as well as I wanted to this year, but as of late I've been throwing the ball well, and I really hope that I can step it up right now."