Seminoles refuse to panic

FSU hadn't given any indication of awakening from its Sunday slumber, trailing N.C. State 9-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Still, FSU knew it had the talent and time to rally. "We knew we could come back, especially playing in our own place, with the fans and with our confidence the way it is and the way we've been hitting the past couple of games," hero Blair McCaleb said.

First inning aside, Florida State hadn't given any indication of awakening from its Sunday slumber against North Carolina State. The Wolfpack had forged in front 9-4 in the seventh inning and appeared poised to slow the Seminoles.

The mood in FSU's dugout, however, was one of confidence.

"I think with the way we are playing right now and the confidence that we have and our ability to score some runs and come back, everything was fine," FSU designated hitter Blair McCaleb said.

"We weren't pressing. Our coaches had confidence in us. They had a little pep talk with us and said, 'Hey, just battle and get some runs across.' It wasn't that we needed five runs right then and there, but we were able to get seven. The way things are going right now, we have total confidence."

A grand slam by McCaleb and a three-run homer from pinch-hitter Tony Richie highlighted a seven-run seventh inning as FSU (41-12, 9-6 ACC) rallied to defeat N.C. State (26-20, 4-14 ACC) 12-11 at Dick Howser Stadium. Reliever Kevin Lynch (4-1) earned the win, allowing three runs on four hits in 3.1 innings.

The Wolfpack didn't make it easy on Lynch, however, scoring two runs in the top of the ninth. Mike Prochaska barely missed tying the score when his shot to right-center field with two outs hit near the top of the screen. Pinch-hitter Tim Coffield flied out to end the game.

The teams combined for 29 hits (N.C. State out-hit FSU 16-13) in a game that lasted three hours and 33 minutes. The Wolfpack jumped in front 3-0 in the top of the first, but FSU erupted for a four-spot in its half of the inning. All was quiet, however, until the seventh. The two teams combined to score 11 of the game's 23 runs in the final three innings.

"I left some balls over the plate and a good-hitting team will just crush the ball," said Lynch, one of four FSU pitchers. "But our offense showed up in the seventh and started hitting the ball. I think Stephen (Drew) got two hits in the same inning, and stuff like that happens you go out there with a little more confidence and a little more laid back to get the job done, but I laid back a little too much. I laid the ball over the plate and, when I did, they tattooed it."

FSU also left its mark. Drew finished 4-for-5, Jerrod Brown chipped in three hits and Nick Rogers and McCaleb each had two hits. Thanks to that seven-run, seventh inning, FSU now has scored five or more runs in an inning 18 times this season, scoring 112 runs in that span (6.3 average). While the crowd of 2,260 grew fidgety, the Seminoles refused to panic. They were calm and collected. Surging FSU has won seven straight heading into Friday's home game against neighbor Florida A&M.

"Probably in the last 10 ballgames we have scored the majority of our runs in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings," said McCaleb, who has five home runs and 38 RBIs on the season. "That was the key. We knew we could come back, especially playing in our own place, with the fans and with our confidence the way it is and the way we've been hitting the past couple of games. That really helped us out a lot."

Senior right fielder Mike Futrell agreed.

"We can't (panic)," Futrell said. "We've been in situations before and maybe earlier in the season we might have panicked a little bit but we have proven to ourselves that, no matter what. ... if things aren't going well we have the ability to make adjustments to get things turned around."

FSU coach Mike Martin credited his team's toughness, saying, "I was very pleased with the way we fought. You fall behind by five runs in the seventh inning, but you keep your confidence, you keep pecking away and obviously we got some big at-bats from people. Blair got the big home run. Tony gets a big home run. Things were certainly quiet until then. But there's just no give-up in our guys."


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