Top ranked Florida State (37-5, 15-2) held on to defeat No. 2 North Carolina (32-9, 13-7) 5-4 Saturday afternoon at Dick Howser Stadium to capture its sixth conference series in as many tries in 2007. Jack Rye hit the game-winning, two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth and relievers Travis Burge and Danny Rosen threw the final three innings to hand the Seminoles their 15th conference victory of the season.
The Seminoles tied a season-low for hits in a game on Saturday with six, but four went for extra bases including Rye's two-run shot in the fifth and Ohmed Danesh's first home run of the season in the fourth. The lead-off batter for FSU reached base in the first five innings of the game as four of those batters scored for the Seminoles. Rye finished the afternoon three runs batted in, his sixth three-RBI game of the season.
"Ohmed and Jack both hit off speed pitches out," said head coach Mike Martin. "I'm just very proud of their discipline. We had some good at-bats; they (UNC) had some good at-bats."
Burge threw a nine pitch seventh as he got the Tar Heels in order on three fly outs. Rosen came on in the eighth and pitched the final two innings of the game facing just six batters. He struck out three and earned back-to-back saves for the first time all season. It was Rosen's seventh save in eight opportunities and his first two-inning save all season.
"I think the mark of a good ball club is one in which the momentum is clearly on the side of the Tar Heels in the sixth inning when they got four runs and we were able to have two young men go out there and really shut it down in Travis Burge and Danny Rosen," said Martin. "No question this was a big win for us. North Carolina is an exceptional ball club."
Tony Thomas, Jr. got the Seminoles on the board with a run in the bottom of the first to take an early 1-0 lead. Thomas led off the first with a walk and moved to third on a throwing error by Tar Heel starting pitcher Alex White (4-3) on an attempted pickoff. Mark Hallberg would plate Thomas on an RBI groundout to third giving FSU a one-run advantage.
The Seminoles would increase their lead to 2-0 on a sacrifice fly RBI by Rye. Hallberg led off the third with his eighth double of the season off the fence in right. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Buster Posey and scored on Rye's fly out to left.
North Carolina threatened in the fourth but came up empty as they left the bases loaded. After cruising through the first three innings allowing just one hit to the Tar Heels, FSU starter Michael Hyde started the fourth walking the first two batters that he faced before getting a huge out at third on an attempted sacrifice bunt by UNC catcher Tim Federowicz. Hyde's afternoon came to a close two pitches later as got behind Kyle Seager with a 2-0 count.
Jimmy Marshall (2-0) came out of the bullpen and got Seager to fly out to Danesh in left on the very first pitch. A walk to Seth Williams loaded the bases for the Tar Heels, but Marshall would end the threat as he got Reid Fronk swinging on strikes.
Hyde went 3.1 innings allowing no runs on one hit. The senior right hander struck out three and walked two as he threw 46 pitches in game two.
Danesh gave the Seminoles a 3-0 lead on one swing of the bat in the bottom of the fourth. The freshman left fielder led off the inning and blasted the first pitch he saw from White over the fence in right for his first collegiate home run.
Florida State increased its lead by two thanks again to the long ball. Thomas led off the fifth with a double off the fence to deep right center and reached third on Hallberg's team leading tenth sacrifice bunt of the season. North Carolina went to the bullpen with two outs in the inning brining on left hander Rob Catapano to face the lefty Jack Rye. Rye got the better of the lefty on lefty match-up hitting his sixth home run of the season. The junior right fielder hit a two-run shot over the right field fence to give the Seminoles a 5-0 advantage. It was his third RBI of the game and his team-leading 44th of the season. The home run for Rye came on two outs giving him 27 two-out RBI's on the year.
UNC starter Alex White went 4.2 innings before giving way to Catapano. White suffered his third loss of the season as he gave up four runs, three earned on four hits. He walked and struck out three.
The Tar Heels broke through with four runs in the top of the six to cut the deficit to 5-4. Matt Fairel and Brian Chambers both gave up two runs in the inning. UNC registered three straight hits including an RBI single by Federowicz, a single by Mike Cavasinni and an RBI double down the third base line by Williams. Fronk pushed across the third Tar Heel run of the afternoon on a sacrifice fly to score Cavasinni from third, while Chad Flack capped off UNC's scoring with a double to left to drive in Williams.
Burge and Rosen were magnificent out of the bullpen on Saturday for the Seminoles. The two combined to pitch the final three innings, while neither pitcher gave up a hit to the Tar Heels the rest of the game.
"I came out there knowing that I couldn't give up any runs," said Rosen on his two inning performance on Saturday. "I tried to step it up. I felt pretty good; I was hitting my spots and had a much better change up going for me today."
Marshall earned his second victory of the season as he pitched 1.2 innings of relief. The sophomore right hander did not give up a run or hit, while striking out two and walking one. Marshall ran his record to 2-0 on the year.
"I came in and was able to throw strikes," said Marshall. "I've been working on my curveball. It's been getting better and better each time out and I've been able to throw it for strikes. I just wanted to come in the game in the fourth and get our team back in the dugout without UNC scoring any runs."
Florida State will return to the diamond on Sunday in the series finale against the Tar Heels at Mike Martin Field. First pitch is slated for 12:30 pm and right hander Ryan Strauss is expected to make his 11th start of the season. Right hander Luke Putkonen will take the mound for North Carolina. 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.
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