Florida State (11-0) remained undefeated on the season with a 6-3 victory over Appalachian State (4-2) in game one of a three-game set at Dick Howser Stadium Friday evening. Mark Hallberg made a pair of spectacular defensive plays including a running catch toward the left field line in the top of the ninth to keep the Seminoles unbeaten on the season and off to their best since 1999. The junior shortstop also came up huge at the plate recording two runs, an RBI and his third triple of the season.
"That is part of my game," said Hallberg. "I have to try and play excellent defense and do the little things right to help our team win on a daily basis. The ball that went up between me and Dennis (Guinn), Dennis was playing back taking away the doubles. I went up and said `I want to catch this ball, if it drops it's on me.' I called it early, went back for it and luckily caught it."
Seminole starting pitcher Bryan Henry (3-0) got his third win of the season working 5.1 innings allowing just one run on eight hits. The senior right hander gave up just one walk while striking out two and has given up a run or less in three of his four starts.
Danny Rosen got the final two outs in the eighth and pitched the ninth for his first save as a Seminole and the first save recorded by Florida State this year.
"I was very pleased with all of our pitchers tonight," said head coach Mike Martin. "Everybody that went out there, Travis Burge, Brian Chambers, Bryan Henry and certainly Danny Rosen, really did a good job. You have to give ASU a lot of credit for fighting in there and getting back in the ball game. Heck, they had the winning run at the plate in the ninth inning. You have to give Danny Rosen a tip of the hat as well."
Florida State got on the board first once again as they scored two runs in the bottom of the third. Hallberg started the scoring as he laced a triple, his third of the season, down the right field line scoring Brandon Reichert from first. Reichert started the inning with a base hit to right center, one of two hits on the evening for the senior first baseman. Catcher Buster Posey gave the Seminoles a 2-0 lead driving in Hallberg on a groundout to short. The Seminoles have now outscored their opponents 61-9 in the first three innings this season.
FSU would add to its lead in the bottom of the fourth. Ruairi O'Connor led off the inning with a walk and then stole second for his second stolen base of the season. He would come around to score on a Reichert double off the wall in right center. It was the first double for Reichert on the year and the first extra base hit of the season for the Tallahassee, Fla., native.
The Mountaineers would cut into the lead in top of the sixth on an infield single by ASU designated hitter Isaac Harrow.
With Florida State now leading 3-1 and Appalachian State threatening in the top sixth with the bases loaded, Hallberg started a text book 6-4-3 double play to close out the inning. Mountaineer center fielder Tom Prosser chopped a ground ball to Hallberg at short who snared the ball off one bounce and made a running throw to Tony Thomas, Jr. at second base, who then threw on to Reichert at first to complete the double play. Brian Chambers replaced Henry with one out in the sixth and induced the groundout to end the inning.
Travis Burge pitched well out of the bullpen working 1.1 innings allowing one hit and striking out two.
The Seminoles would add some much needed insurance in the bottom of the eighth off ASU reliever Chris Patterson. With one out in the inning, Thomas earned an infield single to extend his hitting streak to 11 straight games. He would advance to second on the very next play as Patterson was credited with a balk and then moved to third on a wild pitch. Hallberg then drew a walk. Posey stepped up to the plate and laid a beautiful bunt single down the third base line scoring Thomas and advancing Hallberg to second. Noticing that no one was covering third, Hallberg raced around for the extra base. In attempt to throw out Hallberg, Mountaineer first baseman David Towarnicky made an errant play throwing the ball over the head of one of the ASU players covering third. The throw brought Hallberg home and advanced Posey to third. Posey would then score on Patterson's second wild pitch of the inning to give the Seminoles a 6-1 advantage.
Rosen remained in the game in the ninth, after nailing down the final two outs in the eighth, to earn his first collegiate save. He started the inning getting Prosser to strike out swinging. The right handed junior would then get into some trouble as he hit right fielder Jason Rook with a pitch. He then gave up a single to Nick DeRose and a walk to Jason Altenhof to load the bases for second baseman Wes Hobson. Hobson delivered as he singled to right to cut the lead to 6-2. David Rubinstein then reached safely as he hit a dribbler in front of the plate scoring DeRose and making it a three-run Seminole lead. Hallberg then made the play of the game. Catcher Andrew Franco hit a fly ball to left which looked as though it was going to drop in for a base hit. But Hallberg made a spectacular over the shoulder grab on the outfield grass to keep the Mountaineers at bay. Rosen then got Harrow to strike out swinging to end game.
"Marcus Hallberg made the play of the game in the ninth inning going to catch that pop up," stated Coach Martin. "That is something you just don't see. That was a great play. I am just very pleased that he is on my team."
Posey was the only Seminole on Friday night to post multiple RBI's as he has now registered at least one RBI in nine straight games. Jason Stidham went 2-for-5 in game one to extend his season long hitting streak to 11 straight games. Dennis Guinn also recorded two hits on the night. The Seminoles were perfect from the field on Friday night while going 4-for-4 in the stolen base category. Florida State also registered double-digit hits for the ninth straight game and for the tenth time in 11 games this year.
"That is a very impressive Appalachian State team," said head coach Mike Martin. "That is the best team that I have seen them have since I have been at Florida State. They are very well coached, a disciplined ball club. You really have to take your hat off to them."
The Seminoles and Mountaineers return to the diamond for the second game of the series on Saturday at 3:00 pm at Dick Howser Stadium. FSU is expected to send senior right hander Michael Hyde to the mound. 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.
Hallberg's plays leads FSU past App. St. 6-3
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