Top ranked Florida State (27-1) posted his second straight shut out and fifth of the season as the Seminoles defeated North Florida (11-18), 6-0 Tuesday night at Dick Howser Stadium. Sophomore Caleb Graham picked up his first win of the season as he shut down the Ospreys for six innings. Jack Rye led FSU with a hit and two RBI's as five different Seminole batters registered an RBI in the win.
Graham (1-1) was solid in his second start for the Garnet and Gold working a career-high six innings allowing no runs on two hits. The right hander also set a career-high with six strikeouts on the evening and has now registered at least three or more strikeouts in his last six appearances, including the last two as a starter.
"It was great knowing that the coaching staff had the support and confidence in me," said Graham on working six innings in tonight's win. "I wanted to come back and prove myself after last week (vs. Jacksonville). It is very comforting knowing that the coaches have your back when you don't have your best stuff like I did tonight. I was happy to come out and get the win for our team."
Casey Whitmer, Matt Fairel and Jimmy Marshall were all effective out of the bullpen as each worked an inning in relief.
"I thought that Caleb Graham had a very good outing tonight," said head coach Mike Martin. "We were able to get Casey Whitmer, Matt Fairel and Jimmy Marshall into the ball game and certainly that is important because we got to have everybody as we go through the rest of the season."
After both teams got off to a slow start posting a combined three hits through the first three innings, Florida State was the first to strike with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Mark Hallberg led off the inning with a single to left and came around to score on an RBI double to left center by Buster Posey. Posey then advanced to third on a wild pitch by North Florida starter Andrew Stilley (0-1) and would score on a sacrifice fly RBI to center field by Jack Rye. The Seminoles would then load the bases on a walk, a fielding error and a single by Ruairi O'Connor which hit directly off the leg of Stilley. That would end the night for Stilley as the Ospreys would turn to the bullpen. Jon Turner entered the game and gave up a fielder's choice RBI groundout to D'Vontrey Richardson to make the score 3-0.
The Seminoles would threaten with the bases loaded for the second straight inning but manage just one run to push their lead to 4-0. Tony Thomas, Jr. led off the bottom of the fifth with a single up the middle. He would steal second and third base and score on a fielder's choice groundout by Rye, his second RBI of the evening.
Florida State added a pair of two-out runs in the seventh thanks to back-to-back singles by Jason Stidham and O'Connor. Hallberg and Dennis Guinn crossed the plate that inning giving the Seminoles a 6-0 advantage.
"We certainly had a chance to bust the game wide open when we have bases loaded in a couple of those early innings, but give North Florida a lot of credit," said Martin. "They made some good pitches in certain situations to get out of those innings. I think we had some at bats that some of the guys were disappointed with but a lot of times that is something that you have to be able to play through. And we did a good job of playing through some of those bad at bats."
That would be all the Seminoles would need as the pitching staff stymied the North Florida hitters all night long allowing just three hits. In the win, Florida State lowered its team ERA to a conference leading 2.35 mark posting 237 strikeouts and just 85 walks.
Florida State will travel to Durham, N.C. this weekend for its first ACC road series of the season as they face the Duke Blue Devils. Friday's first pitch is slated for 7:00 pm. Saturday's contest will start at 2:00 pm and will be aired on ACC Select, while Sunday's contest is set for a 12 noon first pitch on Sun Sports. 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.
FSU blanks UNF 6-0
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