Your team gave you a big lead. How much easier is that?
It's rough (laughs). I was telling (Chris) Hart in the dugout – I said, ‘I'm in the mood for one of those 9-1 ballgames. Let me go about six or seven. I'm not feeling a tight ballgame tonight.' About the eighth inning, he said, ‘Hey, you got what you wanted.' We played a great game all the way around, and we showed composure at the plate with a questionable strike zone. We got it done.
You had all your pitches working tonight, right?
Yeah. I was able to throw my fastball away, where I was getting three to four balls off – which I appreciated. A couple of those were questionable strike threes, but as a pitcher, you've got to love it. Our hitters just showed discipline at the plate and got the job done.
You gave up six hits, but they were scattered pretty evenly over 6.2 innings.
Yeah. I was able to hit my locations. You just have to tip your hat when they get hits when you make your pitches. That's what happened.
Tonight's game marked Lynch's 35th win, breaking a tie for seventh place on the FSU wins list with Jonathan Johnson. Lynch is now tied for sixth with Roger Bailey.
You hit a grand slam in the first inning to give FSU a 4-0 lead. How satisfying was that?
Obviously, any time you can help your team win, it feels great. In that situation, I had two strikes on me. I knew one out, bases loaded, I needed to put that ball in play. Lucky enough, he threw a fastball in. I don't think he was trying to put it there, but lucky for me, it was over the plate, and I got a good piece of it.
You seem to have reinvented yourself as a hitter this season. Have you changed your approach?
Everybody says the same thing – see the ball and hit it. I just try to do that. I've worked real hard with Mike Martin Jr. on hitting deep in counts. I've just been working real hard this year.
What do you think about where this team is, at 22-2?
I've been here for a while, and this is one of the best teams that we've had since I've been here. We've just got to stay focused, take one game at a time. If we keep doing that, playing the game we know how to play, and we do in practice, we'll be all right.
You have a good mixture of veterans and newcomers.
That's for sure. A lot of the new guys are really stepping up, helping us tremendously. Plus we've got guys like Matt (Lynch), who obviously pitched great tonight. We've got a lot of old guys who are team leaders, and the new guys can come in here and play. We're playing good baseball.
Certainly, with Martinez-Esteve, I was really glad to see him hit a couple tonight. We know what Stephen (Drew) is capable of doing. Chris (Hart) is a little icing on the cake. You don't expect him to hit the ball out of the ballpark – heck, I think he hit two balls the other night (against St. Joe's) better than he hit that one.
How much of a lift was Chris Hart's first-inning grand slam?
I was laughing – I think he hit two balls the other night against St. Joseph's better than he hit that one, and those two were caught. It's just a crazy game. It was definitely a big hit for us. When you can get a grand slam in the very first inning, it certainly is a good feeling when you know you've got a guy like Matt Lynch out there.
How well has Matt been pitching lately?
Matt is a guy that you just learn to appreciate. You've got to be careful not to take him for granted. That guy has been so important to our program for four years. There's one goal that he has this year – he wants to end this season in Omaha, Nebraska. I think he'll tell you, if he can get seven runs before he gets out there, he'll give himself a chance to win.
Are there any negatives with a performance like this? <> There's always improvement. Every club has improvements to make. What was encouraging tonight was the poise, the way we played defense. We had some good at-bats – it was a ballgame that everything just happened to go our way. We've got to come out here Saturday and play another good ballgame. I'll tell you, Virginia is a very impressive club. We're not eight runs better than Virginia. That's a very good baseball team.
Saturday's starter, Trent Peterson, has been pretty strong lately.
Trent's really been impressive. He's pitched to his locations very well, he's thrown his changeup extremely well, and we're just hoping he can go out there tomorrow night and pitch similar to the way that Matt Lynch played. You can't go out there and say, ‘OK, we're going to give them one or two or three or four.' Those guys are capable of scoring seven, eight, nine. They scored 13 against Auburn. We know we've got to pitch well and we've got to continue to play good defense.
You recently passed Jack Stallings on the all-time FSU wins list. What does that mean to you?
I really don't look at that. I just love Florida State baseball. I love Florida State, and I love Florida State baseball. And don't get me talking about that basketball game today (FSU's ACC Tournament loss to Wake Forest) or we'll be here all night. (laughs) It was a nice thing, but all I care about is just watching these young men get better. I saw a lot of improvement tonight, and I know we have a long way to go. I'm just proud to be a Seminole.
Is it a relief to be getting into the meat of your schedule?
Well, we know what's ahead of us. We're playing in the number one league in the country. We're playing teams that are capable of beating you three games, any given weekend. You've got to go out and play tough, every single night. You cannot go out there and assume anything. You've got to play hard and get the job done. I was very pleased that we were able to do that tonight.
Tonight, you got good pitching, timely hitting, played well defensively. You didn't play a perfect game, but if you played every conference game like this, you'd be pretty happy, right?
Yes. That's about all I could say. I certainly would be happy if we could play like this every night. We strive to play a perfect game. We made an error tonight, so therefore there's room for improvement.