Florida State lit up the scoreboard Sunday afternoon at Dick Howser Stadium with 15 runs on 17 hits as the Seminoles (6-0) swept the three-game series from UNC Asheville (0-3) outscoring the Bulldogs 44-15 over the weekend to remain undefeated. FSU posted a four spot in the first and second innings, followed by consecutive three-run innings in the third and fourth. Eleven of the 15 runs scored in Sunday's contest came with two outs.
Tony Thomas, Jr. continued his hot start going 3-for-3 with two doubles, three runs scored and one RBI. Thomas went to the plate in each of the first four innings recording a bunt single in the first, back-to-back doubles in the second and third innings and a walk in the fourth. The junior second baseman also stole a pair of bases to remain perfect on the season in five attempts. Thomas is batting .696 (16-for-23) through the first six games and is just two doubles shy of matching last year's total of eight.
Freshman Jason Stidham was perfect at the plate as well going 4-for-4 with a sacrifice fly in five at bats. Stidham registered three singles and a double while knocking in two runs. The Palm Bay, Fla., native played both third and shortstop on Sunday posting a perfect fielding percentage in five chances.
Pitcher Bo O'Dell got his first start and earned his first victory in a Seminole uniform throwing four shutout innings allowing just two hits while striking out four.
"I thought Bo was very impressive today," said head coach Mike Martin. "He had four pitches. I was extremely impressed with the way he located his fastball. He had a good breaking ball. Bo O'Dell really excited me."
With two outs in the bottom of the first, Florida State struck first on a Jack Rye fly ball to left field. The ball, misplayed by the Bulldog left fielder, glanced off his glove allowing Thomas to score from second. Following the error, designated hitter Dennis Guinn walked and Stidham hit a double to right center driving in Rye. Starting left fielder Ruairi O'Connor then stepped up to the plate and ripped a double over the left fielder's head scoring Guinn and Stidham to give FSU an early 4-0 lead.
"The hitting is contagious," said Stidham. "As one person is hitting, the rest of the team is hitting. I get a double in the first inning and Ruairi hits me in with a double. I am really feeling comfortable right now. I'm seeing the ball well. I'm making adjustments at the plate, hitting curveballs the opposite way and getting good pitches to hit."
That would be all the help O'Dell would need as he didn't allow a hit until the top of the fourth. The sophomore right hander retired the first four batters that he faced including a one, two, three first inning.
"Things went really well today," said O'Dell. "I felt really confident after the first inning. We had all those runs after the first, so I kind of loosened up a little bit. Once I got the first inning out of the way, I felt I could loosen up, go out there and do some work."
FSU went back on the offensive attack in the bottom half of the second as Brandon Reichert led off the inning with an infield single. Reichert would advance to second on a hit and run groundout by leadoff batter Mark Hallberg. Thomas then hit a towering RBI double off the fence in right field scoring Reichert. Following Thomas' second stolen base of the afternoon and a Buster Posey walk, Rye hit a chopper in between the pitcher's mound and first base, reaching base safely as three Bulldog infielders rushed in to retrieve the ball. Thomas scored on the play to make the score 6-0.
The Seminoles continued their clutch two-out hitting as Posey registered a two RBI single in the third followed by an RBI single to right by Rye. FSU would score three more runs in the fourth with two outs when Halberg laced a shot to right center scoring Stidham and O'Connor. Rye would knock in his third run of the afternoon finding the whole in right for his third straight hit. Stidham would cap off the two-out scoring crossing the plate in the bottom of the fifth. Reichert hit an infield single and Stidham came around to score on an errand throw by the Bulldog shortstop.
UNC Asheville would get on the board in the seventh as Justin Schumer led off the inning with a walk. He would later score on an RBI single by Elliott Arrington.
The Seminoles have now posted multiple runs in 19 innings this season and have scored at least one run in 26 of the 48 innings they have played this year. Florida State has struck early in the first five games of the season outscoring its opponents 36-5 through the first three innings. The Seminoles have now registered double-digit runs in four consecutive games for the first time since 2004 when FSU scored 19 runs against Jacksonville and 16, 10 and 13 in a three-game sweep of Maryland.
The Seminoles return to the diamond next weekend for a three-game set against Hofstra, February 16-18. Game one of the series on Friday is slated to start at 5:00 pm at Dick Howser Stadium. Fans can follow all the action over the Internet. Gametracker will be available for the contest along with live radio broadcast courtesy of 1270 the TEAM.
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