Noles Head Home

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Florida State can't find its way back to Omaha. For the second straight season, the Seminoles (45-23) were swept in super regional play, yielding to Arkansas 4-2 Saturday night. FSU has missed the College World Series four years running.


History repeated itself for the Razorbacks (45-22), who earned their first CWS berth since 1989. That season, the Hogs beat the Seminoles 7-6 in regional play in the teams' only other meeting.

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, a player on the 1989 team and former head coach at Nebraska, will return to familiar territory.

"It's an amazing feeling," said Van Horn. "But I'm not even thinking about those things now. I'm just happy we don't have to play another game tomorrow."

By no means was it anti-climactic.

After Stephen Drew's sacrifice fly scored Shane Robinson, the tying run came to the plate in form of designated hitter Eddy Martinez-Esteve with two down in the bottom of the ninth. But closer Jay Sawatski blew a 3-2 fastball by the slugger to end the game, much to the satisfaction of the super regional-record 10,027 in attendance.

"I wanted to make him earn it," said Sawatski, who had fallen behind 3-0.

The Razorbacks gladly accepted some defensive donations the Seminoles never atoned for; three FSU errors led to three runs in the Razorback half of the third. Starting pitcher Eddie Cannon threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt at second before drops by outfielders Gibbs Chapman and Shane Robinson fueled the Hog rally.

Arkansas took full advantage, using run-scoring singles by Jake Dugger and Scott Hode to open up a 4-1 advantage that stood thanks to the pitching of starter Charley Boyce (10-2) and a pair of relievers.

"There's not any excuse for that," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "They made us pay."

Cannon (9-7) was the near-faultless loser. After his defense floundered in the third, the senior answered by retiring 15 of the next 16 hitters he faced. Cannon was lifted for Matt DiBlasi two-thirds of an inning from completing his second consecutive game.

"He had outstanding composure," Martin said. "That was some great pitching. That gave us a chance. But Arkansas wouldn't us have it."

Sarasota native Aaron Cheesman was 2-for-3 in the loss, crossing home after his second-inning triple. Chapman added a pair of hits for FSU.

"We had something going at the end and fell short," said Cheesman. "We expected to be (at the CWS) at the beginning of the season but, again, fell short. It's extremely disappointing. I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure I'm not sitting (in this situation) again next year. This is one of the biggest lows I've experienced."

Boyce was as advertised, limiting the Seminoles to just six baserunners in 5 2/3 innings of work. Trey Holloway held FSU scoreless for 1 2/3 innings before Sawatkski slammed the door to earn his seventh save.

Jake Dugger set the tone for the Razorbacks – who face No. 1 seed Texas in their CWS opener - by leading off the game with a homer to left.

Nole Digest Top Stories