(photos by Craig Jackson, @leftfieldlounge)
OMAHA, Neb. – Florida State lost its lead in the bottom of the sixth, but regained it in the seventh and didn’t let it go.
The Seminoles (46-22) parlayed seven hits and eight walks into six runs in a 6-4 victory over Cal State Fullerton Monday afternoon in an elimination game in the 2017 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. It was the 1,000th game in the 71-year history of the College World Series.
FSU will play on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. CT against #4 LSU in another elimination contest. The Titans end their season at 39-24.
Trailing 4-3 after six, Taylor Walls started the seventh with a single to short. Dylan Busby pounded a ball to left. Chris Prescott got a glove on the ball, but it dislodged when he hit the wall and gave Busby a double, putting Walls on third.
“We certainly felt like we had the right people coming to the plate,” said Mike Martin, FSU head coach, “and Taylor had a very good at-bat. Dylan had another good at-bat. And you all saw the results.”
Blake Workman took over on the mound and intentionally walked Jackson Lueck. Workman got ahead 1-2 on Quincy Nieporte before three out of the strike zone plated Walls with the tying run.
“We had some very good at-bats,” Martin said. “And Quincy’s I thought was really, really outstanding.”
Workman again was ahead 1-2 on Cal Releigh before three balls forced in Busby with the go-ahead run. Matt Henderson (2 for 3) added an infield RBI single later in the frame to make it 6-4.
FSU scratched for an unearned run in the top of the second. Drew Mendoza drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a failed pick-off at first by the catcher. Henderson sacrificed Mendoza to third. On a 3-1 pitch, Steven Wells sent a ball foul down the right field line. Right fielder Hunter Cullen just missed catching the ball as he fell into the stands. On the next pitch, Wells singled through the left side to drive in Mendoza with the first run.
Cullen drew a leadoff walk in the third and scored on a sac fly by Scott Hurst as the Titans tied the game at 1-1.
The Seminoles reclaimed the lead in the fourth as Raleigh had a leadoff double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Wells to make it 2-1. Raleigh (pictured) slid in just ahead of the throw at the plate for that second run. The advantage grew to 3-1 when Mendoza went deep to lead off the sixth.
“I was looking for fastball,” Mendoza said, “just seeing if something would pop. I saw the pop on the curveball, and he left it out just enough. I got just enough of it. Thought I was going to get a double or triple; I was running hard out of the box. I thought he caught it actually. But I was glad I got enough of it, and it was a really good feeling, for sure.”
The Titans took their first lead in the bottom of the sixth. Flowers couldn’t make a diving catch on Persinger’s line drive and it turned into an RBI double to make it 3-2. Richards followed with a two-run homer to left center to give Fullerton a 4-3 edge.
The eight walks were the most surrendered by Fullerton in a game this season.
“We didn’t throw strikes again,” said Rick Vanderhook, Fullerton head coach. “We didn’t do it for the last couple of days. A lot of pitches.”
The Titans used a total of five pitchers.
“That’s like a normal kind of approach for us,” Mendoza said, “just to see a lot of pitches, make the pitcher work, and hopefully get deep in the bullpen, which we were able to do today.”
Chase Haney (3-2) retired the two batters he faced in earning the win in relief of starter Drew Parrish (5.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K). Drew Carlton (1.1 IP, H, BB, K) recorded his seventh save.
“We had the guy on the mound that we wanted,” Martin said. “Drew is a great competitor.”