North Carolina State flat out beat the Seminoles on Thursday night by a score of 10-5.
FSU jumped out to a 4-1 lead, mostly by drawing nine walks off Carlos Rodon, the Wolfpack's undefeated ace who began the season ranked the third best freshman in the nation by Baseball America, and appeared destined for a series-opening victory.
But one play transferred all the momentum to NC State, which responded with a four-run fifth to take the lead.
With one out in the fourth and already leading 4-1, James Ramsey laced a single off the right field fence. Unsure of whether right fielder Brett Austin would make a play on the ball, Jose Brizuela indecisively hung around second base too long and was eventually called out at home after his collision with catcher Danny Canela failed to jar the ball loose.
Brizuela's run likely would have chased the now 9-0 Rodon from the game. Instead, the freshman hurler settled down to hold the Seminoles at bay while the Wolfpack bats got set to work.
After NC State already picked up a run in the fifth on the combination of a bunt single, a Justin Gonzalez throwing error to Devon Travis on a double-play attempt and a Canela drive up the middle, DH Ryan Mathews stepped to the plate and drove in three runs with one swing of the bat.
Mathews crushed the first Hunter Scantling pitch he saw over the trees in dead center to give NC State a 5-4 lead. He capped off the scoring in the eighth with an opposite-field blast off Brandon Johnson for his second long ball of the day and 13th of the season.
Coach Mike Martin credited Mathews for taking advantage of a pitch that missed its location.
"I think that we had, of course, a pitch that we were trying to just see if we could get the guy to chase it," Martin said, "and it was just one of those things that happens every night. The ball just happened to be in the wrong spot, and that Matthews kid is a very good hitter and he showed what kind of talent he is by hitting it about as far as I've seen one hit this year."
Trailing by only one, FSU's chances for a comeback seemed probable until NC State poured on four more runs in the seventh to put the game out of reach. With the bases loaded and two outs, Austin luckily dished a bloop single into no-man's land between Travis and Josh Delph in shallow right to score two. Two batters later, Trea Turner singled off Bryant Holtmann to score two more insurance runs to make it 9-4.
The ‘Noles pushed one across in the seventh after Jayce Boyd doubled and scored on a throwing error but failed to muster any more offense for the remainder of the game.
Back in the second, The Wolfpack opened the scoring when left fielder Tarran Senay pulled a solo shot to right off Scott Sitz that initially looked like a routine flyout but ended up drifting just over the fence for the first of three NC State home runs on the day.
Finding success with ease for most of the 2012 campaign, the recent Florida State skid comes as a surprise, especially with only two games remaining on the regular-season schedule. Just one win shy of clinching the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament, but losers of four of their last five, the Garnet and Gold must quickly find a way to right the ship before postseason play begins.
Following the game, Martin adamantly conveyed that through hard work and by simply playing better the Seminoles possess the ability to rebound. His confidence level for each player and the team as a whole remains sky high.
"There's nothing but winners in that clubhouse," he said, "and we didn't do things that we know we have to do to be successful. And we're not happy. But there is not anything we can do about it except play better. It's kinda like you make double bogey on No. 4. You got 14 more to play. So we're looking forward to getting back out here and getting this taste out of our mouth. This is a special group of young men. We've lost 12 games this year now, and this is certainly no time to look at anything but ahead. And that's what we will do. We will look for that ballgame tomorrow to play better."
Jonathan Bockman is the baseball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a student in Sport Management at Florida State.
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