'Noles clip Irish, even series

Stephen Drew banged out a career-high five hits and four runs scored to help lead FSU past Notre Dame 12-5 Sunday afternoon in NCAA Super Regional action at Dick Howser Stadium. FSU jumped to an 8-0 lead in the top half of the first and cruised to its 60th victory despite surrendering 18 hits. "The story of that game is the start the Florida State got off to. Those eight runs really put us in a hole and we were playing catch up for the rest of the game," Irish coach Paul Mainieri said.

No. 1 Florida State (60-13) scored eight runs in the top of the first inning and went on to defeat No. 11 Notre Dame (48-16) by a score of 12-5 in NCAA Super Regional action at Dick Howser Stadium Sunday afternoon.

Stephen Drew led the way for FSU with a career-high five hits and four runs scored while Jerrod Brown added three RBI. The 2002 Seminoles tied an ACC record with their 60th win and became just the second team in school history to win 60 games, joining the 1986 team that went 61-13.

After getting behind early in each of their four previous NCAA Tournament games, the Seminoles reversed that trend in dramatic fashion with eight runs in the top of the first inning. Drew led off with a double and Tony McQuade and Ryan Barthelemy walked to load the bases. Brown knocked in two with a double to right, making him 14-for-17 on the season with the bases loaded. Nick Rogers walked to load the bases again and Blair McCaleb did the same to bring in another run. Mike Futrell followed with an RBI-single to left. A pair of Notre Dame errors on Bryan Zech's grounder to second cleared the bases and made it 7-0. In his second at bat of the inning, Drew scored Zech from second with a base hit.

The Irish answered with four runs in the bottom half of the first to cut the lead in half. Steve Stanley, Steve Sollman, Brian Stavisky and Andrew Bushey started the rally with four straight singles. Stavisky and Bushey each picked up an RBI. After a sacrifice fly from Matt Bok scored Stavisky, Kris Billmaier made it 8-4 with an RBI-double.

Drew sparked FSU again in the fourth with a double off the screen to start the inning. McQuade knocked him in with a single up the middle. A Tony Richie single put McQuade on third before Brown came through with his third RBI of the day on a fielder's choice to make it 10-4.

Barthelemy made it 11-4 when his singled home Drew in the fifth. Stavisky doubled home a run for the Irish in the bottom of the eighth and FSU added another on Barthelemly's second RBI of the day for the final of 12-5.

Senior right-hander Blair Varnes (10-3) earned the victory after giving up four runs in the first, holding the Irish scoreless over the next 5.2 innings. Notre Dame starter Pete Ogilvie (7-4) took the loss after surrendering eight runs (seven earned) and recording just one out in the first inning.

The winner of Monday's 12:00 noon contest will advance to the College World Series. Monday's game will be televised live by Sunshine Network. FSU Sophomore right-hander Marc LaMacchia (11-1, 3.41 ERA) is scheduled to take the hill against Notre Dame RHP Chris Niesel (3-0, 3.75 ERA).

Florida State Head Coach Mike Martin.

"There were a lot of keys to today's ballgame. Look at the first inning when we got out of it when they were at the plate. Blair seemed to settle himself as the game went on. I am very pleased with out guys - Stephen Drew had a great day. Blair kept his poise and to a point where he settled down.

"We played solid baseball today. Notre Dame was no surprise to me. They played exactly how they wanted to in the first inning. Our double plays were a pitcher's best friend - when you can get two outs with one pitch - that's great."

Florida State Pitcher Blair Varnes "I might have played too relaxed. They may be the best hitting club we have faced this season. I looked at the game as a 4-0 scored after the first inning. The way we hit the ball makes my job easier. I just want to win the game and I don't care how it looks."

Notre Dame Head Coach Paul Mainieri

"The story of that game is the start the Florida State got off to. Those eight runs really put us in a hole and we were playing catch up for the rest of the game. I thought our game was pretty good. We got 18 hits which is amazing. It was just one of those days for us. The kids are playing hard. Our nine guys in the line-up are playing their tails off. Tomorrow is a new day. We are excited about it. Florida State is excited too, but no more excited than we are."

Notre Dame centerfielder Steve Stanley "Florida State is a fantastic team and after the first inning we needed to come back and show we were a tough team. We hit the ball hard today, but just couldn't get it to fall."

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