FSU Baseball Smokes Virginia Tech


The No. 9 FSU baseball team returned to form tonight, getting the bats back in order and patiently working counts en route to a 19-9 stomping of the Virginia Tech Hokies in a four-plus hour contest in from of the 20th-largest crowd in FSU baseball history (6,348).

After FSU pitching struggled in Friday night’s 8-3 loss to the Hokies, the story in this one quickly became the dominating fashion in which Seminole starter Drew Carlton began the game. After inducing a groundout from the game’s first hitter, Carlton, a right-handed freshman from Lakeland, Florida, struck out the next five hitters he faced, and 9 of the next 11. Only one player in the starting VT lineup (Miguel Ceballos) did not strike out at least once against Carlton.

The ‘Noles got him a little support early, when Taylor Walls reached on an error, advanced to third on the first of John Sansone’s three hits, and scored on a wild pitch, but FSU simply didn’t cash in on enough opportunities in the early going. They left at least one runner in scoring position in the first three innings, beginning 0-8 with RISP.

Tech finally got to Carlton in the fourth, when Alex Perez singled and Brendon Hayden doubled. Perez scored on a booted grounder to Dylan Busby (he would have scored anyway, as Busby was going to first), and Hayden touched home after a force out when Taylor Walls tried to turn two after a fielder’s choice and threw the ball away.

The Hokies pushed their lead to 3-1 in the fifth when Andrew Mogg led off with a single, advanced to third on a bunt and a groundout, and scored on Rahiem Cooper’s two-out base hit.

The ‘Noles got the big hit they’d been awaiting in the sixth inning. Quincy Nieporte got things going with a single up the middle, and Dylan Busby worked a walk. They were each advanced by a Hank Truluck bunt, and then Josh Delph singled through the left side to tie the score, 3-3.

Carlton’s night ended when he walked Ceballos, who was bunted to second. Lefty Dylan Silva was summoned from the bullpen, and he issued a walk and a wild pitch that allowed Ceballos to score on a fielder’s choice to push the Hokies ahead 4-3. Carlton’s final line: 5 H, 4 R (3 ER), 9 Ks, 1 BB on 106 pitches over 6.1 innings.

Florida State struck right back in the bottom of the seventh. John Sansone was hit by a pitch, and DJ Stewart reached on the second error and third misplayed ball by VT second baseman Erik Payne. Tech went to southpaw Sean Kennedy, whom Chris Marconini greeted with a line-drive single to right that scored Sansone and tied it back up, 4-4.

That chased Kennedy in favor of righty Connor Coward, who walked Nieporte to load the bases, still without any outs. Then came a free pass to Busby, putting Florida State in front 5-4. Truluck worked a walk as well: 6-4, and that was it for Coward, who yielded to Chris Monaco, who induced a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Delph that nevertheless scored the Seminoles’ seventh run.

Then Danny De La Calle continued his hot hitting, drilling a line drive to straight-away center that was nearly snagged by Saige Jenco, but instead snuck out of his glove and over his head for a double that extended the FSU lead to 8-4. Florida State’s Taylor Folsom took over after Silva walked Perez to start the eighth, and Perez would come around to score on a pair of wild bookended around a single, prompting Mike Martin to call on Alec Byrd.

Byrd threw six pitches– all of them balls, to walk Ceballos, loading the bases and again sending FSU to the bullpen, mid-batter, for the ACC’s leader in saves, Billy Strode. Strode surrendered a line-drive single to Mogg, cutting the ‘Nole advantage to 8-6 with the sacks still packed and only one away. Pinch-hitter Max Ponzurick then walked to make it 8-7.

But Strode dug deep, fanning the next two Hokies to escape with a slim one-run lead. The ‘Noles were able to pad that lead immensely in the eighth, though. John Sansone was hit by the 42nd pitch of his FSU career (the 3rd most in school history) to lead off the inning. Stewart then walked, and although Virginia Tech went to the ‘pen and reliever Packy Naughton, Marconcini worked a free pass as well. Nieporte was plunked to drive in a run and make it 9-7, before Busby drew a base on balls to extend the FSU advantage to 10-7.

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Truluck then collected his second and third RBIs, lining a solid single into left to push the margin to 12-7. After Darren Miller’s pinch-hit single landed safely in front of Jenco in center, De La Calle followed suit, also picking up his third ribeye on a single up the middle that made it 13-7 and sending VT to the ‘pen for Joey Sullivan. Walls’ single plated two more and extended the gap to 15-7. A Nick Graganella walk (FSU’s tenth of the game) ran the lead to 16-7, and a Steven Wells, Jr. sac fly brought it to 17-7.

A wild pitch saw Sansone slide home and the score board change to 18-7, which prompted Gage West’s RBI single and a 19-7 score. When it was said and done, Florida State hung 11 on the Hokies in the inning. Will Zirzow pitched the ninth for FSU, allowing a pair of runs before closing it out at 19-9. Silva got the win for FSU (21-7, 8-3).

The Seminoles and Hokies wrap things up tomorrow at 1 pm. Freshman Cobi Johnson will get the start for FSU.