Noles Go 4-0

The bottom of the order was at the top of their game Friday afternoon. Freshmen infielders Nick Francis and Tony Thomas each knocked in a pair of fifth-inning runs as Florida State distanced itself from the Virginia Military Institute in an 8-2 win that gave FSU its first 4-0 start since 2000.

The duo also combined on a pair of highlight-reel double plays to diffuse rallies from the Keydets (0-1) in the fifth and seventh innings.

"Today was wonderful for my confidence," said Francis. "I think (the performance) will help to get me more comfortable and relaxed out there."

The 5-run, 40-minute bottom of the fifth in which ten batters paraded to the plate gave the Seminoles all they would need
offensively. After Gibbs Chapman walked, Aaron Cheesman's double to left on a hit-and-run set up runners at second and third with no outs. Ryne Malone drove home Chapman, sending a screaming liner to right for the sac fly.

Two more Seminoles walked to reload the bases for Francis, who dumped a two-run single into right. Thomas followed with a two-run double over left fielder the head of Will Smith.

"The count was in my favor and I was looking for a pitch that I could drive," Thomas said. "He put one right in there. The confidence was there but it'll keep growing each game. This a new atmosphere for me."

Discipline paid dividends.

"Nick and Tony are guys that are just getting their feet on the ground," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "You saw that last weekend when they made some swings you wouldn't expect them to make. Today I think they had a better feel for leaving the pitches in the dirt alone."

Starter Mark Sauls (1-0) didn't return to the mound after the onslaught. Though he gave up the first earned run from an FSU starter this season in the third, Sauls was sharp and struck out five in five innings of work to pick up the victory.

The rotation of Sauls, Michael Hyde and Barret Browning has given up just one earned run in 19 innings of work.

"I thought it was going to happen last weekend," said Sauls who got a no-decision against Charleston Southern despite not surrendering a hit. "But I got (the win) this weekend. I just had to keep at it.

Left-hander Brian Schultz, a likely candidate be a midweek starter, provided the finishing touches. Schultz gave up a run on five hits over the final four innings.

Leadoff man Shane Robinson continued his torrid start with a pair of doubles, a pair of runs and an RBI in a a 3-for-5 performance. Robinson scored the game's first run when Cheesman drove him in with a double down the left field line. An inning later, he doubled home Thomas with a shot to the right-center field gap.

The Seminoles and Keydets face off tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. Hyde (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will get the ball for FSU, which is now 12-0 all-time against VMI.

OF NOTE: Seventeen position players saw action for FSU on Friday. Josh Spivey, Danny Wardell, Danny Diaz and Brandon Manasa got their first at-bats of the season...FSU batted .303 as a team during last weekend's series against Charleston Southern. It took the Seminoles five series until they cracked the .300 mark last season (.333 against Michigan State).

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