Behind an outstanding pitching performance by sophomore right hander Luke Weaver, No. 9 Florida State (4-0) held on for the 9-7 victory over Jacksonville (1-3) Wednesday afternoon on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
Weaver (1-0) baffled the Dolphin offense for 6.0 innings on Wednesday as the DeLand, Fla., native gave up just one hit and no walks while striking out a career-high nine batters. Weaver allowed just two base runners in his first start of the season as the only hit was a two-out infield single in the second.
"He was beautiful," said head coach Mike Martin on the pitching performance of Luke Weaver. "He went out there and totally dominated with his fastball. This is one of those games that you hope Luke can grow from because he certainly pitched a beautiful baseball game."
"It was great," said Weaver. "I know last year I was a little shaky (against them). You never forget about something like that especially with it being my first start. But today I felt good. Everything was locked in; I was pounding the strike zone and not trying to do too much."
The sophomore right hander got off to a great start as he struck out the side in the top of the first. After giving up the infield single to Nathan Koslowski in the second, Weaver retired the next 10 batters that he faced. JU's Scott Schaub then reached on a throwing error to open the sixth, but Weaver worked around the error recording a strikeout and a pair of fly outs in his final inning of work.
"That was definitely a boost," said Weaver on striking out the side in the first. "It felt good; it kind of got me off and running."
Weaver also received plenty of run support from the Seminole offense as Florida State ran out to a 9-0 advantage after four innings.
Stephen McGee opened the scoring in the second as he laced a single to center and scored three batters later on an RBI groundout to first by Jose Brizuela.
Justin Gonzalez gave the Seminoles a 2-0 lead in the third as the senior captain connected on a two-out solo shot to left. The Miami, Fla., native took a 1-1 offering from JU starter Zach Gordon (1-1) out of the park for his second home run of the season and 21st of his career.
The Seminoles broke the game open in the fourth scoring seven runs all on two outs to take a commanding 9-0 lead. Jameis Winston and John Sansone drew back-to-back two out walks and both came around to score when Josh Delph hit a double off the screen in right. Delph would score on the play thanks to errand throw at third base by JU shortstop Ethan Loosen.
The inning would continue as Gonzalez drew a walk and moved to third on a double to the gap in right center by D.J. Stewart. Both runners would score a batter later on McGee's two-run bloop single that caromed just off the diving glove of Dolphin second baseman Jake Huxtable. Marcus Davis' two-run home run on the very next pitch rounded out the scoring for the Seminoles in the fourth. The home run for Davis was his second of the season.
"When you look at a game like this, the first thing that some people might do is look at the negatives," added Martin. "We don't do that here. We look at the positives. We got seven with two-out and nobody on (in the fourth). We had exceptional discipline at the plate. The game did not get away from us; JU did a good job of battling. I am proud of our young men for doing their job and keeping their poise and getting it done when it counted."
Jacksonville would not go away quietly scoring two runs in the eighth off Seminole reliever Hayden Jordan to cut the deficit to 9-2.
Then a pair of Seminole fielding errors to the first four batters opened the door for the Dolphins in the ninth with Dylan Silva on the mound. Jacksonville drew within five of the lead before calling on Robby Coles to close out the game. The junior college transfer issued a bases loaded walk to pinch hitter Chris Anderson, but then got Kris Molter looking on strikes for the second out of the inning. Braddock Rowe would continue to make things interesting in the ninth as he dropped a two-run bloop single to center to cut FSU's lead to 9-7 and put runners at the corners. But that was as far as the Dolphins would get as Coles bounced back to get Alex McRae swinging on strikes to end the game. The save was the first for Coles as a Seminole.
"Robby did have a good effort," said Martin. "His velocity was excellent and he located the ball well. He got the two strikeouts when we needed them in the ninth."
Stewart and McGee paced the Seminole offense with two hits each, while Delph, McGee and Davis all drove in a pair of runs. Alvin Swoope picked up his first career hit in his first career at-bat with a single to left in the sixth.
Seth Miller registered his first hit of the season in the sixth with a single up the middle and did an outstanding job of keeping the shutout intact in the seventh as he threw out a runner at the plate from centerfield. The senior from Southport, Fla., ended the seventh completing a double play following a fly out off the bat of McRae. Loosen tried to score from third on the fly out, but Miller threw a beautiful one hopper to the plate where Ladson Montgomery made the tag to complete the double play and maintain FSU's 9-0 lead.
Florida State remains at home this weekend for a three-game series against USF. Game one is scheduled for a 4:00 p.m. first pitch on Friday, February 22. Friday is also FSU's ALS Awareness Game.