With a shamrock design featured in the infield grass and the team sporting green hats in honor of St. Patrick's Day, the luck of the Irish was with the Seminoles on Saturday evening at Dick Howser Stadium as Florida State (22-0, 2-0 ACC) ran out to 4-0 lead and held on for a 4-3 victory over Wake Forest (11-9, 2-3 ACC). Senior Michael Hyde (7-0) kept the Demon Deacons off the scoreboard as he pitched 5.2 innings of scoreless baseball to earn his seventh straight victory of the season. It was the second straight outing that Hyde has not allowed a run and has now thrown 13.2 consecutive innings of shutout baseball.
"It was undoubtedly one of our best wins this year," said head coach Mike Martin. "It was a game that I was very pleased with the composure that we showed. Wake Forest is an excellent club; they are very, very good. We were out hit; it was a game that took an awful lot of people to win. He used five pitchers tonight. It was altogether a great win for us tonight."
Florida State took advantage of some early errors by the Demon Deacons pegging Wake Forest starter Eric Niesen (2-2) with four runs, two earned, in his five innings of work.
The Seminoles jumped on the board in the first with two runs as Tony Thomas, Jr. and Buster Posey crossed the plate to give FSU the early lead. Thomas led off the game with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Mark Hallberg. Thomas then stole third and raced home on the play as the throw by Wake catcher Austin Jones went into left field. Posey was then issued a walk by Niesen and would advance to second on a passed ball. Jack Rye would then move Posey to third with a single through the left side, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 19 games. Posey would score on the play as Demon Deacon left fielder Brett Linnenkohl miss handled the ball allowing enough time for Posey to run home and give the Seminoles a 2-0.
"Tonight we had to play small ball, said Thomas. "They had an excellent pitcher on the mound, who had a lot of good stuff and he was hitting his spots real well. We were putting the ball in play but Wake Forest is good defensive ball club that made a lot of plays. With that, we had to convert to small ball which we haven't had to do much this season. Tonight, we showed that we can play the small game as well."
FSU would add another run in the third as D'Vontrey Richardson led off the inning with an infield single to short. He would race around to score on the third Wake Forest error of the game.
Florida State made it 4-0 in the fifth as Thomas led off the inning knocking his fourth triple of the season off the fence in right field. Hallberg picked up his 28th RBI of the season as he hit a single off the glove of diving second baseman Nathan Frazier scoring Thomas from third.
Hyde cruised through the first five innings as he allowed just one runner to reach second base. He also benefited with a pair of groundball double plays in the second and fourth innings, respectively. In the sixth, Hyde ran into some trouble as he gave up a lead off single to Linnenkohl and then a two out single to left field by Willy Fox to advance Linnenkohl to third. That would be the end of the night for Hyde, as the Tallahassee, Fla., native pitched 5.2 innings allowing no runs on four hits while striking out five. Brian Chambers came on in relief of Hyde and got Dustin Hood to groundout to third baseman Jason Stidham on the very first pitch to end the threat.
"Those double play balls are a pitchers best friend," said Hyde. I got a couple of them tonight and it bailed me out a bunch of times. Those two (Hallberg and Thomas) are probably two of the best in turning them and I have a lot of confidence in them when that ball is hit on the ground. I don't even have to turn around because I know that they are going to turn it."
"Hyde pitched very well," stated Martin. "To pitch 5.2 shutout innings, is very impressive. He threw his pitches to location."
Wake Forest would make things interesting in the seventh as the Deacs scored three to close within one run of the lead. Evan Ocheltree and Austin Jones started things in the seventh with back-to-back hits off Chambers. The two runners would advance a base as Chambers got Tyler Smith to groundout to Brandon Reichert at first base. With Travis Burge replacing Chambers, pinch hitter Weldon Woodall laced a double to right center plating Ocheltree and Jones. After Burge got Linnenkohl to strike out looking, Eric Williams registered an RBI single up the middle to cut the Seminole lead to one. After back-to-back walks, one by Burge and the other by Caleb Graham, loaded the bases for the Deacs, Graham induced a fly out by Hood to end the inning. The sophomore right hander would return to the mound in the eighth and strike out the side.
The Seminoles once again called upon Danny Rosen to shut the door on the Deacs in the ninth. The junior right hander was eager to get back on the mound in game two to avenge last night's blown save. He started the inning as he got Williams to pop up to Hallberg at short. After issuing a free pass to Allan Dykstra, Rosen would then strike out Fox and Hood to end the game and earn his third save in four opportunities.
"I was dying to get back out there," said Rosen. "I was hoping to get the same lineup that I faced on Friday night where they got the home run. I wanted to redeem myself against Dykstra, unfortunately I walked him (Dykstra), but I still got out there and got the job done. It was good feeling tonight."
"Danny did a great job," said Martin. "It was a real pleasure to see Danny go back out there and close it up. He did a great job in the ninth inning."
The win on Saturday night also meant that the Seminoles are the now the loan undefeated team in Division I as Mississippi handed Vanderbilt its first loss of the season. Coming into the weekend, Florida State along with Vanderbilt and Kentucky were the only teams without a loss. Last night, Arkansas issued Kentucky its first loss in 2007.
Florida State will return to the diamond on Sunday in the series finale against the Demon Deacons at Mike Martin Field. First pitch is slated for 1:00 pm and right hander Ryan Strauss is expected to make his sixth start of the season. Left hander Garrett Bullock will take the mound for Wake Forest. Fans can also follow all the action over the Internet. Gametracker will be available for the contest along with live radio broadcast courtesy of 1270 the TEAM. The game will also be shown live over the web on ACC Select.
FSU holds on to beat Wake Forest 4-3
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