Smith Saves The Day

Florida State assistant coach <b>Mike Martin, Jr.,</b> told Seminole fans not to forget <b>Derrick Smith.</b> Finally recovered from a hand injury, Smith was the hitting star in the Seminoles' 8-7 victory over VMI Saturday at renovated Howser Stadium. Closer <b>Kevin Lynch,</b> one of four pitchers, notched the victory. Click here for comments from Martin, Jr., and pitching coach <b>Jamey Shouppe.</b>

Smith's run-scoring double in the bottom of the ninth inning scored Eddy Martinez-Esteve from first base with one out, lifting the Seminoles to an emotional victory and capping an afternoon that saw the dedication of newly renovated Dick Howser Stadium.

Smith also banged a home run and finished with three RBIs as FSU (1-0) escaped upset-minded VMI (0-1). VMI tied the game at 7-7 with a three-run eighth-inning, setting the stage for Smith's dramatics.

Following a one-out walk to Martinez-Esteve, Smith ripped a double down the right-field line. A sliding Martinez-Esteve was able to beat the cut-off throw home, sending a crowd of 5,882 to the exits with a smile.

The two teams square off Sunday at 1 p.m.

Martin, Jr., was pleased the Seminoles were able to punch out the victory despite the distractions that accompanied the season-opener.

Five of FSU's seven hits went for extra bases, including a home run from Stephan Drew, a triple from freshman Ryne Malone in his first career at-bat and a double from senior second baseman Bryan Zech.

"The guys were exicted. Their timing was a little off," Martin, Jr., said.

"They had to hit with that excitement and adrenaline going, which caused a lot of the guys to be out front, anxious and we popped too many balls up. Guys trying to go just slightly underneath (swing), get a little backspin, hit the ball out of the ballpark.

"That happens every year. You have to bring it to their attention and make adjustments from there."

Ten of the game's 15 runs were scored in the first three innings. Martinez-Esteve finished with two RBIs and Drew was 2-for-4 with three runs scored from the No. 2 slot in the batting order. The Seminoles started two freshmen in Malone at third base and Shane Robinson in center field. But it was Smith was proved to be the game's hero.

"I've been screaming for years about (Smith). The whole year last season he hit with a broken wrist and they couldn't figure out what was wrong," Martin, Jr., said.

"That hurt us last year. He obviously had a good game. I thought Dirt (Drew)had some good at-bats. Shane Robinson didn't have anything to show from it, but he had a couple of competitive at-bats that benefitted us. All and all, I think you will see a different approach, some better swings tomorrow once all this excitement and enthusiasm surrounding this (renovated) stadium ends."

FSU starter Hunter Jones survived a shaky start, allowing three unearned runs in the first inning -- the Seminoles finished the game with four errors. However, Jones settled down and retired 16 of the last 17 batters he faced and finished with eight strike outs in his second career start. Rhett James and Mike DiBlasi, who was tagged for two earned runs, also saw action.

"Our starting pitcher took awhile to get cranked up, to get comfortable and accustomed to the surroundings, I guess, which surprised me," Shouppe said.

"How he threw the last three innings is how he has thrown all preseason -- he has thrown great. So it really surprised me that he came out and was...he was nervous. He was doing things he doesn't normally do and that surprised me. But that's what you learn. That's why you open up at home and that's why...hopefully by midseason he won't be a sophomore. That was only his second career start."


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