The Florida State Seminoles defeated fellow top-ten team Virginia 6-4 tonight, cementing their chances of earning a national seed heading into the NCAA Regionals.
FSU started the scoring in the second, when John Nogowski reached on an infield single off UVA starter Nathan Kirby and, Jose Brizuela reached on an error. A John Sansone single scored Nogowski to give the ‘Noles a 1-0 lead.
Seminole ace Luke Weaver retired the first six Cavs he faced before allowing a leadoff walk to to start the third. He paid for the free pass when Brandon Downes launched a towering fly over the left-field fence to give UVA a 2-1 lead. Danny Pinero scored when Joe McCarthy singled to left, and the Virginia lead grew to 3-1 heading to the bottom of the third.
Things were quiet until the sixth, when the Cavs added onto their lead. Weaver issued a two-out walk to John La Prise, and he was award second on a questionable balk called on Weaver. La Prise touched home to make it 4-1 on Matt Thaiss’ base hit, but a beautiful relay from the outfield on a double by Downes got Thaiss at the plate to end the inning.
While the Seminole offense continued to hammer deep fly-ball outs, Gage Smith took over for Weaver to start the seventh. Weaver was far from spectacular, as he walked a season-high four batters and posted a final line of 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, and 6 Ks.
Righty Connor Jones came on in relief for Virginia to begin the seventh, capping a superb effort from Kirby, who surrendered just four hits over six innings. Back-to-back free passes got things started for the ‘Noles. Josh Sborz then came on for UVA and was greeted rudely. After a passed ball, a Josh Delph groundout plated Justin Gonzalez to bring Florida State within two. Casey Smit drew a pinch-hit walk, and a DJ Stewart RBI single up the middle reduced the gap to a 4-3 UVA lead. Nogowski followed suit, singling to bring home Smit and tie the game at 4-4. Brizuela drilled a grounder past first to score Stewart and give FSU a 5-4 lead, its first lead since its 1-0 advantage.
After a perfect seventh, Smith gave up back-to-back hits in the eighth that resulted in two Cavs in scoring position with just one down.
Enter Jameis Winston.
And cue magic.
A slicing liner from La Prise was — somehow — picked out of mid air by Gonzalez at short, who finished an inning-ending double play by throwing to second and preserving the 5-4 FSU lead.
Flame-throwing Virginia closer Nick Howard came on for the ninth, and Sansone promptly singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Gonzalez drew a walk, and the ‘Nole threat mounted with two on and nobody out. Danny De La Calle’s perfect bunt advanced the runners, and UVA intentionally walked Josh Delph to load the bases for Smit, who nailed a liner to right-center field that was gloved by a running Downes but stilled allowed Sansone to tag and score, making the FSU lead 6-4.
Winston came back out and worked a perfect ninth.
With the ACC Championship match-up already set (Maryland vs. Georgia Tech), this game was mostly about securing a national seed for FSU. Seedings will be announced Monday, but the ‘Noles should be secure, as they didn’t really drop out of the top six in any of the major polls throughout the season after their hot start.