No. 9 Florida State (33-9, 14-8 ACC) received another outstanding pitching performance from Luke Weaver as the Seminoles opened the three-game series Friday night against Wake Forest (24-21, 7-15 ACC) with a 7-3 victory in front of 4,435 on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
Weaver gave the Seminoles 7.0 shutout innings, to tie a career-high, as he improved to 5-1 on the year. The sophomore right hander also tied a career-high with nine strikeouts as eight of the nine came in the first four innings. Weaver struck out the side in both the second and fourth innings.
"Weaver had good stuff," said head coach Mike Martin. "He was poised, he pitched a very good baseball game; it was exactly what we needed. Luke was looking forward to getting back on the mound again. He did not pitch poorly in Virginia; there were some things that happened and he showed tonight that it wasn't going to bother him."
"I came in tonight with a chip on my shoulder," said Weaver. "I was anxious to get back out there and shake the last start off. Everything was really working early; just pounding the strike zone with the fastball, commanding with the change-up which I really haven't done as of late. My slider was hitting for first pitch strikes when I needed to get it over. Everything was on, I felt really good."
The Demon Deacons managed just three hits off Weaver on Friday night as their best scoring chance came in the third inning but the DeLand, Fla., product got out of a bases loaded jam as Giovanny Alfonzo and John Sansone turned a beautiful inning ending double play.
"It was awesome," said Weaver on the big double play in the third. "They came through, I mean it wasn't an easy double play but I was pumped and ready to throw the next couple of innings."
A leadoff infield single by Kevin Jordan to start the fifth was thwarted when Stephen McGee threw out Jordan trying to steal second. Then in the seventh, Matt Conway opened the inning with a single to center only to be retired from the base paths on another inning ending double play, this time on a fly out to deep center by Jordan. Seth Miller began the double play with the catch to pick-up his team leading eighth outfield assist of the season.
"He has been great for us all year," said Marcus Davis on Weaver's outing Friday night. "It gives us a lot of confidence because we know that we will get a quality start out of him more times than not."
The Seminoles mustered just five hits in the win but did a great job of manufacturing runs when runners got on base. FSU drew six walks and took advantage of a couple of Wake Forest fielding miscues.
"I looked up there and saw the same numbers," said Martin on recording seven runs on five hits. "We did some things very well and sometimes you can get away with that."
Marcus Davis, who was celebrating a birthday on Friday, led the offense with two hits and three RBI. The Cincinnati, Ohio native reached base on three of his four plate appearances on the night.
"One of the better birthdays at the plate to be honest," said Davis. "I was just trying to put together a few good at-bats."
FSU did not waste any time cracking the scoreboard in game one with a run in the first on an RBI groundout by Davis. Miller opened the inning with a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the Demon Deacon catcher on the stolen base attempt. Miller scored one batter later on Davis' groundout to second.
Florida State took advantage of another fielding error by Wake Forest in the second to score two more runs and increase its lead to 3-0. Casey Smit drew a walk off Wake starter Matt Pirro (3-6) to start the inning and moved into second on a fielding error at second base on a groundball off the bat of Jameis Winston. After Alfonzo sacrificed both runners over, Smit scored on a wild pitch and Winston came home on Sansone's sac-fly to center.
FSU pushed its lead to 5-0 with two more runs in the sixth. D.J. Stewart led off the inning with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Davis' double down the line in right. The junior designated hitter would score two batters later on an RBI groundout off the bat of Jose Brizuela.
The Seminoles tacked on two more runs in the seventh off reliever Connor Kaden to take a 7-0 advantage. Winston led off the inning with a triple to right and later scored on Wake's third wild pitch of the game. Sansone, who reached on the wild pitch strikeout, came around to score on Davis' RBI single to center.
Wake Forest made things interesting in the ninth off reliever Brandon Johnson scoring all three of its runs in that inning. The Deacs tallied three hits in the innings including an RBI double by Conway to plate Wake's first run of the game. After an RBI groundout by Jack Carey and a two-out RBI single by Brett Armour, Johnson closed out the game when Mark Rhine tried to bunt for a base hit but popped out to McGee in front of home plate.
Gage Smith worked a scoreless eighth inning on Friday retiring all three batters that he faced on a groundout and a pair of strikeouts.
Florida State and Wake Forest return to action for game two of the series on Saturday, April 27 at 6:00 p.m. Saturday's game is Military Appreciation Night at the ballpark with the first 1,000 fans receiving a replica team t-shirt courtesy of the Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic. The game will broadcast live on ESPN3.