The Florida State baseball team took another step toward securing a national seed Friday night, edging the Duke Blue Devils 9-8 at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee.
The scoring opened for each team in the third inning. Ryan Deitrich got Duke on the board by smacking a solo shot off FSU starter Mike Compton. The Seminoles were not to be outdone, however, as they answered against Blue Devil starter Drew Van Orden in the inning’s bottom half. Casey Smit walked and was doubled home by DJ Stewart, who advanced to third on a John Nogowski single. Stewart scored on a sacrifice fly from Jose Brizuela, and the ‘Noles had a 2-1 lead.
The Blue Devils tied it up in the fourth when Andy Perez led off with a single. He stole second and attempted to score on a Chris Marconcini double but was thrown out at the plate by Florida State second baseman John Sansone. Matt Berezo’s single drove in Marconcini, however, making it 2-2.
But once again the Seminoles struck back immediately. Josh Delph singled to start the FSU fourth and took third on Stewart’s base hit. Nogowski’s sac fly plated Delph, and Stewart was able to take second. The latter made it 4-2 when Brizuela collected his second RBI by singling up the middle.
Compton got into a bit of a jam in the sixth when Mark Lumpa and Perez singled, but after striking out Jordan Betts he was relieved by Billy Strode, who retired the next two Blue Devils to extinguish the threat.
Smit wound up on third to begin the bottom of the sixth when his grounder to first off reliever Nick Hendrix leaked through and the ball was misplayed in right field. He made it 5-2 on Stewart’s third hit of the night, a line-drive single to center. Brizuela also picked up his third hit, giving the ‘Noles runners on first and second and prompting a Duke move to the bullpen for righty Connor Stevens, who escaped unscathed after a Ben DeLuzio bunt and a Sansone groundout.
Gage Smith came on for Florida State in the seventh and was greeted by Grant McCabe, who singled to right. McCabe took third on Deitrich’s double down the right-field line and scored on pinch-hitter David Perkins’ groundout, making the score 5-3.
The Seminoles responded quickly in the bottom of the seventh. Blue Devil pitcher Sarkis Ohanian walked Justin Gonzalez and Danny De La Calle to begin the frame and was promptly relieved by Chris Kono. Josh Delph cleared the bases with a double, and FSU’s lead was 7-3. A pinch-hit bunt by Brett Knief moved Delph to third, and Stewart extended the advantage to 8-3 with a single through the right side that gave him his third career four-hit game. He moved to second when Brizuela reached on a strikeout that got away from catcher Mike Rosenfeld, and DeLuzio’s solid single to left brought the tally to 9-3.
Southpaw Brandon Johnson tossed a perfect eighth for the ‘Noles, but then allowed a single, walk, and an Deitrich RBI double in the ninth, making the score 9-4.
Then it got weird.
Perez’s sac fly brought it to 9-5, and a grounder under the glove of Sansone made it 9-6, prompting manager Mike Martin to call on closer Jameis Winston, who balked to move Lumpa up to second before Winston missed first base on a relay from Nogowski. Betts’ double down the left-field line made it 9-8, and with the tying run at second, Martin summoned Dylan Silva, who induced a warning-track fly out from Marconcini to close things out in a game that took over four hours to finish.
This victory was Florida State’s 12th straight over Duke and improves FSU to 41-13 and 21-8 in the ACC. The win bodes well for the Seminoles’ hopes of earning a national seed and playing numerous postseason games at home, where Florida State is now 25-6 on the season. The regular season concludes for the ‘Noles when these teams play once more tomorrow at 1 pm.