JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – No. 5 Florida State (4-0) rallied late scoring nine unanswered runs over the final four innings to defeat Jacksonville (1-3) 12-6 on Tuesday in front of a capacity crowd of 3,000 inside John Sessions Stadium to remain undefeated on the season.
“It is never easy on the road,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “It’s never easy at home, but it is always more difficult when you are on the road. JU is an impressive club. They have some guys that are out right now but I was very, very impressed with them.”
John Sansone’s two-run shot in the sixth sparked the come-from-behind victory as his first home run of the season trimmed the deficit to 6-5. The Seminoles then tacked on two more runs in the seventh to grab the lead for good before pulling away for the final margin with a five-run ninth inning.
“It was a change-up low,” said Sansone. “It felt good when it came off the bad.”
“It was a great jump start,” said Martin on Sansone’s home run. “No question it jump started us; in fact you could feel the dugout come alive when that ball left the ball park.
“Our guys showed great poise; great discipline. It was one of those situations that I was just pleased with the way we just kept our poise and kept battling.”
The Florida State bullpen did its part to keep the Seminoles in the game as five relief pitchers combined to limit the Dolphins to just one run on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
“Billy, Bryant, Gage, Jameis, they all had great outings,” added Martin. “That is so important. Burkhead did not pitch badly; he gave up a couple hits and a run but he kept battling.”
Bryant Holtmann (1-0) picked up the win working two scoreless innings allowing just one hit, while striking out two. Billy Strode also gave up one hit as he walked one and struck out five. Gage Smith and Jameis Winston closed out the game working the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, as the Seminoles registered their eighth straight win over JU and fifth in a row at Jacksonville.
“When Billy came in and struck out the side (in the fourth), it kind of lifted us,” added Sansone. “You could just feel the momentum in the dugout. There was a good vibe in the dugout.”
“We have a good bullpen,” said Holtmann. “We just have to go out there and do our jobs. Everyone did their job tonight; it was able to keep us in the game and we came back.”
Sansone and DJ Stewart paced the Seminoles’ 12-hit attack with three hits apiece, while Brett Knief and Ben DeLuzio recorded two hits each.
Sansone finished the game a triple shy of the cycle as the sophomore second baseman hit a single up the middle in the second, the two-run shot in the sixth and an RBI double in the ninth.
In front of the hometown crowd, Stewart reached base on all five of his plate appearances going a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with a pair of doubles, a single and two walks. The Yulee, Fla., native also scored three times. Stewart extended his streak of reaching base to a career-best 31 straight games.
“I’m seeing the ball really well,” said Stewart. “I’m just trying to get whatever the pitcher is throwing to me and hit it where they pitch it, not trying to get too big. It was a big win for us tonight.”
Justin Gonzalez reached base three times on three walks and scored three times on Tuesday.
“They played us hard the entire game,” added Stewart. “We had to battle, they didn’t give us anything. We had to crawl and scratch for every single run we scored.”
Florida State grabbed the early Tuesday afternoon plating two runs in the top of the first off JU starter Parker Perez. The Dolphin southpaw got off to a shaky start walking the first three batters that he faced. Perez looked as though he would get out of trouble as he got Knief to send a groundball back to the mound which turned into a 1-2-3 double play. The Seminoles then took advantage of a Perez wild pitch as Gonzalez crossed the plate for the first run of the ball game. John Nogowski followed with a two-out single through the left side to plate Stewart to give FSU a 2-0 advantage.
The lead was short lived as the Dolphins answered right back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning off FSU starter Peter Miller to even the score. The first three JU batters reached on back-to-back singles and then an RBI double off the wall in left by Connor Marabell to plate Angelo Amendolare from second. The second run came on a fielder’s choice groundball to short off the bat of Seth Dewitt as Gonzalez threw to third to get Marabell. The inning came to a close when Danny De La Calle picked off Nate Ricci at first.
Jacksonville took its first lead of the game with three runs in the second. The Dolphins strung together three singles, two walks and a sac-fly off Miller to take a 5-2 advantage.
Miller’s day would come to an end after just two innings in his first start of the season. The senior right hander was charged with five runs on six hits and three walks as he would not factor into the decision.
The Seminoles cut the deficit to 5-3 in the third as Gonzalez and Stewart opened the inning on a walk and double, respectively. Knief followed with an RBI groundout to short to bring home Gonzalez but that would be the only run for the Noles as Nogowski hit into an inning ending double play as he hit a pop up to second with Stewart running on the play.
JU pushed its lead back to three on an RBI bunt single by designated hitter Garret Ruckel in the bottom of the third. Ricci scored on the play after leading off the inning with a double down the line in left off reliever Kenny Burkhead.
Burkhead went an inning in relief in his season debut allowing a run on two hits with a walk.
Sansone brought the Seminoles within one of the lead in the sixth as the sophomore second baseman belted a 2-2 pitch from Nathan Disch over the fence in left for his first home run of the season and third of his career. DeLuzio followed with a double off the wall in left ending the afternoon for Disch. Josh Baker came on in relief and benefited by a great defensive play from Khalil Searcy at second robbing De La Calle of a run scoring base hit. Baker kept the JU lead in tact as he got Josh Delph to groundout to short to retire the side.
Florida State retook the lead for good in the seventh with two runs taking advantage of a couple of walks and a throwing error by JU catcher Braddock Rowe on a pick-off attempt at third. Gonzalez drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on Stewart’s second hit of the game, a single to right. Knief then ripped a single back up the middle that went off the glove of pitcher Zach Gordon (0-2). Gordon could not recover in time to get any one out as Gonzalez scampered home for the tying run.
After Knief was picked off at first for the first out of the inning, the Seminoles would go on to load the bases following a walk to Nogowski and a hit-by-pitch to Sansone. Stewart scored the go ahead run when Rowe tried to pick off the sophomore left fielder at third following the first pitch to DeLuzio. The errant throw got away from Drew Luther allowing Stewart to score to give FSU a 7-6 lead.
The Noles broke the game open in the ninth with five runs highlighted by a two-run triple by DeLuzio and then a two-out RBI triple by Delph.
“It’s huge to respond like we did,” said Sansone. “We are down 6-3 after the fifth inning on the road; it’s never easy to dig out of a hole like that on the road. It was big for us to come back like that.”
Florida State is back home this weekend as the Seminoles host a three-game series against Georgia beginning Friday, February 21 at 4:00 p.m. All three games against the Bulldogs will air live on ESPN3.
SOURCE: Florida State Athletics