The #5 Florida State Seminoles capitalized on timely hitting and clutch pitching to blank the Stetson Hatters 4-0 at Dick Howser Stadium on Tuesday night.
Lefty Billy Strode started for the ‘Noles and found himself in an immediate jam when he loaded the bases without retiring a batter in the top of the first. But a strikeout followed by a double play got him out of the inning cleanly, and FSU’s offense went to work quickly in the inning’s bottom half. Josh Delph doubled to the right-centerfield gap, advanced to third on a Casey Smit bunt, and staked the Seminoles to a 1-0 lead on DJ Stewart’s sacrifice fly.
Strode and Hatters’ freshman starter Mitchell Jordan then settled in nicely, putting up zeroes until the bottom of the fourth, when Florida State struck again. John Nogowski led off the frame with a double, reached third on a passed ball, and touched home on a sac fly from Jose Brizuela, extending the FSU lead to 2-0.
Adam Schaly took over for Jordan in the fifth, surrendering a leadoff hit to Delph, who was bunted to second by Smit. He then hit Stewart, extending the latter’s on-base streak to 61 games. Josh Thorne came on for Stetson and erased the ‘Nole threat, inducing pop outs from Nogowski and Brizuela.
After Strode walked the leadoff batter in the seventh, Mike Martin went to his bullpen, summoning Gage Smith, who used a double-play to escape unscathed. Strode more than acquitted himself after a tricky start, pitching six shutout innings and allowing just two hits while striking out five.
Smith stayed on for the Seminoles in the eighth, when Stetson mounted its biggest threat since the first frame. After Smith retired the first batter, Robert Bruce singled to right, and Kevin Fagan reached on a Stewart error. Smith then hit Tyler Bocock, loading the bases with just one away. But Smith once again demonstrated his uncanny ability to buckle down when the pressure is on, snuffing out the rally on a fly ball and a strike out.
Florida State padded its lead in the bottom of the inning, when Nogowski walked and then scored on a Brizuela double down the right-field line off reliever Tyler Keller. Gonzalez — hitting sixth instead of in his usual second spot in the lineup — doubled down the left-field line off Ben Rakus for his third hit of the game, and the Seminoles took a 4-0 lead to the ninth.
Jameis Winston finished things, striking out three in the ninth for the ‘Noles.
The win improves FSU to 31-9 on the season. Florida State faces Stetson again tomorrow at 4 pm.