Stephen McGee’s solo home run in the bottom of the eighth broke a 2-2 tie as No. 8 Florida State (36-9) defeated No. 30 UCF (26-20) 4-2 in game one of a three-game series Friday evening on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
The win for the Seminoles was their eight straight at home and third in a row over the Knights, while the loss for UCF snapped a six-game winning streak.
“That was a good win,” said head coach Mike Martin. “It was an outing that Luke Weaver was outstanding; he pitched beautifully. It was one of those that we got key hits. Yeah, we made some mistakes but we will strive to improve on them. But it was a good win for us.”
Entering Friday, Florida State had not been defeated this year – 30-0 – when taking the lead into the eighth.
But 31-0 didnt come easy.
Aggressive baserunning was hot and cold for FSU, and so was a roller-coaster eighth inning. But the Seminoles 36-9 found a way, topping Central Florida 4-2 in front of 3,933 at Dick Howser Stadium.
After seeing its 2-0 lead dissipate in the top half of the eighth, an edge that seemed insurmountable thanks to a stellar outing from starter Luke Weaver, FSU turned the tide quickly. Catcher Stephen McGee led off the inning with a solo home run to grab the lead again at 3-2. FSU added an insurance run later in the inning on a John Sansone safety squeeze that plated John Nogowski.
Florida State had the week off because of exams but look continue their hot play from last weekend where they swept Wake Forest. The Noles hit well all weekend and received three quality starts from its weekend guys. Central Florida appears to playing really well too, winners of six straight including a series sweep of a good Houston team. The Knights have an RPI outside the top 100 so a series loss for the Noles would probably damage any shot they had left to be a National Seed.
Rarely this season has the Seminoles offense had an off night let alone an entire series. The Noles scored 26 runs on 30 hits against the Deacons and that was against a staff that isn’t better than what FSU should see this weekend. The Knights just don’t match up against the Noles in any facet offensively, they put up average offensive numbers in a moderately competitive conference.
Now that hes back with his teammates and able to practice in a limited capacity, Florida State outfielder Josh Delph is able to smile and even laugh a bit as he tells the story of his recent bout with meningoencephalitis, which kept him in the hospital for nearly two weeks and out of the lineup for a month.
For Delph the experience was a bit of a blur. Tests, medication and the insides of the hospital walls put Delph in a bit of a daze. Seminoles coach Mike Martin, though, knew exactly how serious – and, at times, frightening – Delphs ordeal truly was.
“The night I walked in when he was unconscious laying in that ICU with a tube stuck down his throat, he wasn’t smiling and neither was I,” Martin said. “I was so thankful a couple days later to see him smiling. It was serious, still is serious and I’m just glad to see him back out here. It’s quite an accomplishment.”
When Delph began feeling tired after a mid-week series against Florida Gulf Coast, he attributed it to the everyday grind of the baseball season. And besides, he was hardly about to miss the three-game set at Miami coming up that weekend.
No. 9 Florida State (35-9, 16-8) came away with a sweep over Wake Forrest (24-23, 7-17) in Tallahassee and remained at the top of the Atlantic Division in the ACC. With each win coming in a variety of ways, strong pitching, great offense, and being able to hold off a rally, the Noles gained three important victories in conference play.
Importance of the Series
Considering how close the Atlantic Division is in the ACC, every conference game matters from here on out. With Florida State, NC State, and Clemson all within reach of each other, conference seeding is starting to shape of for the ACC Tournament in Durham, N.C.
The sweep over Wake Forrest keeps FSU at the top of the standings with only two more ACC series remaining. These last six conference games at NC State (May 11-13) and home against Clemson (May 16-18) will determine who is crowned the Atlantic Division champion and get the better see in the ACC Tournament which is set to begin May 22.