Florida State (22-12) captured its fifth walk-off victory of the season as Jason Stidham connected on a two-out, bloop single to left in the bottom of the ninth to lead the 20th-ranked Seminoles to an 8-7 victory over North Florida (15-23) Wednesday night. The Garnet and Gold trailed 7-5 heading into the bottom of the seventh but scored a run in each of the final three innings to take the season series from the Ospreys.
Tyler Holt got things going in the ninth as he drew a one out walk from UNF reliever Spencer Jones (1-1). He advanced to second on a passed ball and moved to third two batters later as Mike McGee hit into a fielder's choice groundout to second. With two outs, Stidham stepped in and flared a base hit to left on a 1-0 pitch from Ty Pryor scoring Holt for the game-winner. The walk-off hit by Stidham was his second in four days, while the last three Seminole wins have all come courtesy of a walk-off victory in the ninth.
"My goal is to get a good pitch and find the open gap," said Stidham. "It was a curveball that was thrown; it wasn't that great of a swing, I just kind of laid it out there and luckily it dropped in for the hit."
"Anytime you are able to come from behind and win like we did, it has got to excite you," said head coach Mike Martin. "It was a ball game that we really needed. It is a very difficult time of year when you're playing five games a week. It takes an awful lot of perseverance and character to win games in which you fall behind and I'm was very proud of the way our Seminoles played tonight."
McGee finished the game 2-for-4 with four RBI. He recorded a single and a three-run home run in the fifth which gave the Seminoles the lead for the second time on Wednesday night. McGee now leads the team in home runs (11) and RBI (39), while he has recorded a team leading 10 multi-RBI games on the year.
Stidham and Parker Brunelle each registered two hits in the win over the Ospreys. Stephen Cardullo drew a career-high four walks as he scored three times and registered a pair of stolen bases.
Jimmy Marshall (3-1) pitched to one batter in the top of the ninth to pick up the victory. The senior right hander entered the game with runners on first and second and got Paul Morales looking on strikes for the final out of the inning.
John Gast was impressive in his two innings of work as the sophomore southpaw did not allow run while giving up just one hit. He struck out one and did not walk a batter.
"We have a confident team when it comes down to battling back in the late innings," added Stidham. "We know that the games are won in the seventh through the ninth. We are never going to let down no matter how large the deficit is, we going to give it our all until the very end."
The Seminoles took advantage of a few Osprey miscues in the first to grab the early lead. Cardullo reached on a one out walk, stolen second and moved to third as the throw into second from UNF catcher David Eldredge sailed into centerfield. Cardullo scored two batters later on a fielder's choice groundout to second off the bat of Stidham.
FSU pushed its lead to 2-0 in the second on the third error of the game by UNF. With one out, Ohmed Danesh registered his ninth double of the season knocking a pitch off the top of the fence in right. Danesh took third on a single to right by Brunelle and scored on the play as Osprey right fielder Justin Preckajlo had trouble handling the ball.
North Florida cut the deficit in half with a run in the fourth as T.J. Thompson singled through the right side and scored on a bunt single to third by T.J. Gavlik. With runners at the corners and only one out, the Ospreys looked to add to their run total but FSU starter Austin Wood registered back-to-back strikeouts to maintain the Florida State lead.
The Ospreys soared in front with three runs in the fifth to take a 4-2 lead. All three runs came on two outs as Preckajlo atoned for his mistake in the second inning with a double off the fence in right scoring Michael Smith, who recorded a one out double. The hit by Preckajlo prompted a pitching change as the Seminoles brought on Geoff Parker. On just his second pitch of the game, David Eldredge hit a two-run double off the fence in right center to give UNF the one-run advantage.
Wood worked a career-high 4.2 innings on Wednesday night as the freshman right hander was charged with four runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out a career-high five batters on 86 pitches.
"I thought Austin had a very good outing," said Martin. "He was very aggressive in the strike zone; I was very pleased with the way he pitched tonight."
The lead was short-lived as the Seminoles came right back with three runs in the bottom of the inning to regain the lead at 5-4. McGee provided the fireworks with a three-run blast over the scoreboard and out of the stadium in left center. Holt and Cardullo scored on the play as they reached on a single and a walk, respectively.
UNF retook the lead in the seventh scoring three runs off Parker. Thompson led off the inning with his second hit of the ball game, a single through the right side. After a one out walk to Eldredge, Gavlik followed with an RBI single to right to tie the game 5-5. Morales gave the Ospreys their second lead of the evening doubling to the gap in left center plating a pair to give UNF a 7-5 advantage.
FSU drew within one of the lead as McGee laced a two-out, RBI single to right scoring Cardullo, who walked for the third time on Wednesday night. The Port St. Lucie, Fla., native was thrown out at second trying to stretch the base hit into a double.
The Seminoles tied the game in the eighth courtesy of a passed ball. Stidham began the inning with a single to right, stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Stuart Tapley. After Phil Rorabaugh hit Tommy Oravetz with a pitch, the Ospreys went to the bullpen and brought on Jones. Jones got pinch hitter James Ramsey swinging on strikes for the second out, but a passed ball with pinch hitter Rafael Lopez at the plate brought home Stidham to tie the game at 7-7.
North Florida threatened in the top of the ninth against Gast as a pair of runners reached on a single to center by Thompson and a hit by pitch to Eldredge. The sophomore southpaw got Gavlik to fly out to right field for the second out of the inning. Martin went to the bullpen for the third time on Wednesday night bringing on Marshall. The game remained deadlocked at seven as Marshall got Morales looking on strikes for the final out of the inning.
"It was a game in which we had some very good at-bats in the eighth and ninth to tie it and then win it," added Martin. "A lot of guys set the table for other guys like Tyler Holt getting on base to give Jason Stidham a chance to get it done. So it was definitely a team effort. We also got exception pitching from John Gast and Jimmy Marshall. It was a good win for us."
Florida State will hit the road for a three-game conference series beginning Friday, April 17 as the Seminoles head to Raleigh, N.C. to face the NC State Wolfpack. First pitch for games one and two is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., while Sunday's series finale will start at 1:00 p.m. All three games will air live over the internet on ACC Select. Fans can listen to the action locally on 1270 the Team (Friday) and 100.7 FM (Saturday and Sunday) and over the internet on www.seminoles.com. Live stats will also be available via gametracker.
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