The Florida State Seminoles entered their Super Regional against Sam Houston State red-hot, coming off an ACC tournament championship, four straight wins in their NCAA regional, and winners in fourteen of their past seventeen overall.
However, for the first six and a half innings on Saturday, it looked like the underdog Bearcats, coming off consecutive victories over #5 Texas Tech and winners of twelve of their past thirteen, was the perfect answer for the sizzling Seminoles.
Sam Houston jumps out to quick lead
The Bearcats came out of the gates running, scoring three times in the top of the first inning versus Florida State hurler Tyler Holton. After Holton fired four straight balls to start the game, Johnson slapped a single to put two on with nobody out. Sam Houston had Andrew Fregia lay down a sacrifice bunt, but Holton's throwing error allowed all runners to be safe, loading the bases.
However, Holton rebounded to whiff Clayton Harp and Robie Rojas, bringing him within one out of escaping the jam. Then his wildness returned, as he plunked Jaxxon Grisham to bring in one run. Hearn made him pay for the mistake, drilling a two-run single to center to push the Bearcats out to an early 3-0 advantage.
In the second inning, Holton struck out the first two batters, but his second victim, Riley McKnight, reached on a third strike that evaded the catcher. Johnson reached again on a bunt single, putting two on with one out. A wild pickoff attempt resulted in Holton's second error of the night, and McKnight and Johnson each moved up ninety feet. Fregia brought McKnight home with a RBI ground out, upping Sam Houston's advantage to 4-0.
Florida State finally pushed one run across to answer the Bearcats' tally in the second inning. A walk, single, and wild pitch put a pair of runners in scoring position with nobody out. Sam Houston starter Sam Bracchus almost escaped, recording a strikeout and inducing a ground out in which second baseman Lance Miles hosed Quincy Nieporte at the plate. However, with runners at the corners, Bracchus could not avoid all the damage, and Steven Wells grounded a single up the middle to score one run for the Seminoles.
Sam Houston State flashed both the bats and the leather in the third inning. A one-out single, bunt single and walk set the stage for Tyler Beene's RBI ground out, but Hearn was thrown out trying to score the second run of the inning to end the threat.
The Seminoles looked prime to jump back into the game in the bottom half of the inning, facing reliever Riley Cooper. A walk and a single started the inning, and Lueck drove in his first run of the game with a single to left. Cleanup man Nieporte came up and drilled Cooper's offering down the third base line. However, playing a no extra bases defense, Beene was perfectly positioned to snag it on the hop, step on third and start the around-the-horn triple play.
Seminoles rally, walk off in the ninth
The game settled down significantly after that. The Seminoles tagged on a run in the bottom of the fifth on yet another Lueck single, but the Bearcats answered in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk. The walk was the last batter Holton faced, as he fired 6 2/3 innings, giving up six runs, but only two were earned due to his two errors. He walked four and struck out seven over 119 pitches. Cooper tossed four strong innings out of the pen for the Bearcats, giving up just two runs, and handing a 6-3 lead to Dakota Mills in the seventh.
The inning started innocently, as Mills induced a pop out and recorded a strikeout to start the frame. Walls sparked a rally, bunting his way on board, and Dylan Busby drew a full-count walk to put two runners for the perfect man - Lueck. Lueck continued his hot night by lining a single to center field to score a run, cutting the deficit to 6-4.
Nieporte and Raleigh each followed with subsequent RBI singles to knot the score at six runs apiece. Mills was relieved by Dominic Robinson, who picked Nieporte off of second base, but the damage was done.
The Seminoles used the top of their order to complete their rally in the ninth inning, as Walls sliced a single to right field, and Busby was plunked to bring up Lueck. For the fourth time in the game, Lueck singled in a run, driving the first pitch to right field to score Walls with the winner.
Drew Carlton picked up the win on the mound for the Seminoles, firing 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. He needed just nineteen pitches and struck out two. The two squads will meet for Game 2 on Sunday.
OTHER NCAA BASEBALL ACTION
As of publication time, two other games had been completed on Saturday.
Louisville 6 Kentucky 2
Drew Ellis, Devin Hairston, and Colby Fitch all had three hits for the Cardinals, as Louisville erased some painful memories in the Super Regionals by completing the sweep of the Wildcats, becoming the first team to advance to Omaha. Ellis added a pair of RBI, bringing his series total to six, and Logan Taylor tacked on a pair of hits.
Brendan McKay fired 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball for the win, and Sam Bordner fired 2 1/3 innings of hitless and scoreless relief, lowering his ERA to 0.47. Evan White had two hits for Kentucky and finished the series 4-8. Tristan Pompey and Marcus Carson recorded Kentucky's only RBI of the day.
Cal State Fullerton 12 Long Beach State 0
After being shut out yesterday, the Titans' offense surged to life for a twelve-run outburst on Saturday, forcing a Game 3 with the Dirtbags to be played on Sunday. The Titans scored twice in the first and seven times in the third en route to the rout. Timmy Richards and Chris Hudgins tallied three hits while tacking on two and four RBI respectively. Scott Hurst, Hank LoForte, and Hunter Cullen all added on two hits, with LoForte and Cullen adding RBI. John Gavin pitched the complete game, scattering seven hits and two walks while striking out five. Jarren Duran and Laine Huffman each had a pair of base knocks for the Dirtbags.