Hunter Jones picked up his first win since beating Florida April 21, 2004 and sophomores Ryne Malone and Shane Robinson both homered for the first time this season in the victory. It was FSU's (7-0) sixth straight win over Auburn and the first in the regular season since 1984.
"I think the last time we faced Auburn in the regular season Bo Jackson was playing for them," said FSU head coach Mike Martin. "They are obviously an outstanding program. This was just a great game. There is no two ways about it."
"This was a lot of fun," said Malone. "We came out here tonight and got a win versus a very good Auburn team. It is a real accomplishment for our ball club."
The Seminole pitching staff limited an Auburn offense that was averaging almost 12 runs per game to just three runs while recording 10 strikeouts. FSU's staff held Baseball America pre-season third team All-American Clete Thomas without a hit in five at bats and limited the top three Tiger batters to just one hit in 14 at bats.
"That is just one of those things you never expect getting Clete Thomas out five times," said Martin. "I didn't even expect that. That guy is an outstanding talent and it is just one of those days when our guys happened to make some quality pitches. That guy is big time."
Jones, making just his second appearance and first start since surgery in 2004, went five innings, allowed two runs, struck out seven and issued just one walk. The leftie came one strike out away from tying a career high and picked up the sixth win of his career.
"It was a game where Hunter Jones showed what he is all about," said Martin. "When you look at the numbers you realize what a quality start he had."
"This felt really good," said Jones. "We had great defense behind me and great offense today. I couldn't have done what I did without these guys putting it all together. They are the total package."
After picking up two wins in his first two appearances of the season, Kevin Lynch bounced back strong from his last outing where he gave up two runs in one inning of work. The senior came in with the bases loaded and the Seminoles up 5-2 and gave up just one run and went on to pitch 2.2 innings without allowing a hit.
"I put things behind me," said Lynch. "I have been out here 97 times now and I've been hit around probably 87 times. You just have to come out, bounce back and throw your ball and let your defense play. Our defense played really well today."
"You have to credit Kevin Lynch for coming in and pitching 2 2/3 innings and settling things down and giving us a chance to get a couple more runs," said Martin. "He didn't let it get out of hand and that is a real credit to Kevin."
Offensively, the top of the FSU line-up continued to produce Friday. The Seminole's 1-5 hitters came into the Auburn series hitting .406 and against the Tigers they hit .500 going 8-for-16. Malone and Robinson, first and fourth in the line-up, both had multi-RBI games driving in four runs. Freshman Tony Thomas, Jr. and sophomore Bryan Henry both recorded RBIs as well.
The game could not have gotten off to a better start for FSU as outfielder Robinson sent the first offering of the game from Arnold Hughey (1-1) off the top of the wall in left field. It was the first lead-off homer for a Seminole since Brian Zech led off the Jacksonville game April 7, 2004 and it was the second home run of Robinson's career.
"When I hit it I was thinking `just get to second base as fast as I can' because I didn't want to look at it too much," said Robinson. "I didn't really know I hit it out until I got half way to second. I guess the outfielder tried to leap the wall but he had his head down so I knew it got out."
"More than anything, what Shane is doing is understanding his role," said Martin. "After he hit the ball out of the ballpark, the next time up he went up to bunt. They didn't give him the chance but he didn't let that home run go to his head. He went up there doing what he does best and that is trying to put the ball in play. It was an outstanding day for Shane."
Auburn got right back into the game in the top of the second when Karl Amonite launched a Jones offering over the right field fence. Two more Tiger singles put runners on the corners with just one away. After an attempted double steal produced the second out of the inning at home plate, Auburn cashed in with a two-out, RBI single to take a 2-1 lead. Jones ended the second by striking out his second batter of the inning watching strike three.
"I felt like I pitched OK but it was a little disappointing in the second," said Jones. "I just missed a couple of spots but my team picked me up. After that inning I felt a little better."
The Seminoles evened the game up in the bottom of the second thanks to a couple of Auburn miscues and a Tony Thomas, Jr. sacrifice fly. The Tigers then went down in order in the third as Jones struck out the side raising his total to five K's.
In the fourth, Aaron Cheesman led the bottom of the inning off with a double off the fence in right field, his 30th career double. A passed ball moved the catcher to third and the senior then came home on a double steal after Brant Peacher was hit by a pitch. An errant throw on the play at the plate allowed Peacher to move all the way to third. He scored with the fourth run of the game on Henry's sac bunt.
Jernigan, making his second straight start at short, singled with one out in the fifth for FSU and ended up on second after an error in right fielding the ball. Robinson then singled and advanced to second on the throw home that wasn't in time to get Jernigan putting FSU in front 5-2.
Matt DiBlasi came in to relieve Jones in the sixth and gave up his first hit of the season, a double, and his first two walks of the year to load the bases with one away. That brought Lynch into the game. The senior got a fielder's choice for the second out of the inning but the runner on third came home to cut the lead to 5-3. A steal and a walk loaded the bases once again for the Tigers but the Ft. Pierce, FL native ended the inning on a fly ball.
The Seminoles padded their lead in the eighth as Gibbs Chapman started things off with a single to left. Cheesman sacrificed him to second and Malone then went yard. The Gainesville, FL native just cleared the right field fence with the 13th homer of his career.
"I just got a good pitch," said Malone. "They just brought the leftie into the game and on the first pitch I just saw it and hit it. I got a good look at it."
"I am very happy that Ryne got the big home run," said Martin. "He is a guy that we obviously want to deliver us some pop and he did that today."
The Seminoles will go after their eighth straight win to start the season Saturday, February 12 at 2:00 p.m. The Garnet and Gold is expected to throw 2004 freshman All-American Brian Schultz (0-0) who is making his first start of the season. Game Tracker will be available for the contest along with a live radio broadcast available on WFLA locally and on the Internet at seminoles.com.
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