Tallahassee, Fla.- DJ Stewart made his return to Florida State’s line-up in dramatic fashion Friday night with the first multi-homerun game of his career, but it was Casey Smit who proved to be the hero for the Seminoles. Florida State (24-5, 11-2 ACC) rallied from a two-run 8th inning deficit to take game one over Notre Dame (10-18, 1-12 ACC) 8-7 in twelve innings in front of 5678 fans.
“Just battle, just fight,” Head Coach Mike Martin said after the game, “that’s all anybody expects of you and we did just that.
Freshman catcher Gage Smith scored the winning run for the Seminoles after reaching base on a lead-off triple in the 12th. Smith lined one to the gap in left center and blew straight through a stop sign from 3rd base coach Mike Martin Jr. Smith just beat the tag at third and came around to score when Smit drove the first pitch he saw into left field.
“Just hit the ball hard into the outfield…runner on third, infields in so anything hards most likely going to get through,” said Smith.
Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead early, but back-to-back homeruns by Smit and Stewart gave the Seminoles a 3-1 lead in the 3rd. Josh Delph started the rally with a one out single and Smit, the next batter, took a 0-1 pitch over the right field wall for his first career homerun giving FSU the lead. Stewart followed suit taking a 0-2 pitch over the wall in right field.
Florida State stretched their lead to 5-1 on Stewart’s 2nd homerun of the game, a solo shot in the 5th, but Notre Dame refused to go down without a fight. They chipped into the Seminoles’ lead with an RBI single from Ryan Lidge in the 7th and took the lead 7-5 in the 8th inning as they scored 5 runs, thanks in part to 3 Seminole errors.
“After those three errors we all had to kinda come in and calm down,” Smit said, “and say alright we still got this, the games not over we can still win this game.”
FSU quickly worked their way back into the game as Notre Dame walked 4 straight Seminole batters with two-outs in the bottom of the eight to bring the Seminoles within one. FSU tied the game on a sac-fly from Ben DeLuzio in the 9th forcing the game into extras.
“We know how to fight adversity,” said Smith, “I think we’ve shown that we are a team that’s not going to give up…everyone keeps battling and knows that the games not over till the last outs made.”
Notre Dame threatened to retake the lead in the top of the twelfth when they had runners on the corners with no outs in the inning. Freshman pitcher Taylor Blatch (W 1-0) worked out the jam though earning his first career victory in the process.
“Taylor did awesome,” said Smith who caught the last four innings for FSU. “Taylor does a great job of being very intense on the mound…he used that intensity to throw his best pitches and he did a really good job tonight of staying composed.”
Florida State and Notre Dame return to the field for game 2 tomorrow night at 6 p.m.