An eighth inning surge propelled the Florida State Seminoles to their first lead of the game and their 23rd victory of the season, as they went on to defeat visiting Florida Gulf Coast University, 8-3.
It wasn’t the start that Mike Martin and his staff hoped for from Peter Miller Tuesday night, as he only managed 1.1 innings on the mound, allowing three runs on only two hits. It would be Alex Diaz’s solo home run to left and Jake Noll’s long double to left-center early in the second inning that would bring an end to Miller’s night.
"Our guys came out tonight, fell behind by three and could have folded," Florida State head coach Mike Martin said, "but I’m proud of the way our guys came out and played, even without three starters. We had nine on the field."
The bullpen would again prove crucial as they kept the FGCU bats at bay tallying seven consecutive scoreless innings, allowing the Florida State bats to get going. Dylan Silva’s 3.2 innings of immediate relief – longest of his career – would set the tone for the rest of the game. Silva would only allow one hit during his stint on the hill, as he went on to strike out four batters.
"Dylan hadn't pitched in about two weeks and came out and gave us three and two-thirds," Martin said. "I’m very pleased for him and the way he pitched."
Once things settled down for Florida State on the mound, the offense followed suit as they began to chip away at the Eagles’ lead, manufacturing their first run in the bottom of the third inning on a Sansone RBI ground out.
John Nogowski, who went one-for-three with 2 RBI, would send a bomb of his own over the left field fence for his second home run of the season to cut the FGCU lead to just one.
"Yeah, I thought I’d do a little Carlton Fisk," John Nogowski joked about his home run staying fair, "I’m a big Red Sox fan. But yeah, I was hoping it was fair, but it was going to be a triple if it wasn’t"
Then entered Mr. Handlebar Mustache himself, Gage Smith, as he went on to pitch a very familiar 3.0 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just one hit and again keeping the FGCU lead to only one run.
The eighth inning would also prove to be familiar to Florida State as they went on to score six runs on five hits, again proving that they’re capable of big innings and never quite out of a game.
After Josh Delph’s leadoff single and Sansone’s hit-by-pitch, it was really Jose Brizuela’s beautiful bunt down the third-base line that would start the rally cry, loading the bases with no outs. John Nogowski would draw a bases loaded walk to tie the game, 3-3, but the Noles weren’t done yet.
"We kind of knew it was coming," Nogowski said. "We were seeing the ball well, and once we got those two guys on, got the ball rollin’ and put pressure on the defense with that bunt, and you look up there and I think it was six."
Casey Smit, who finished his night two-of-four from the plate with 2 RBI, would single to left bringing across two more runs to give Florida State their first lead of the game. Ladson Montgomery, Danny De La Calle and Jameis Winston would each add a RBI of their own in the eighth before the onslaught was over.
But the damage was done.
As ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ theme song began to echo throughout Dick Howser Stadium, it was clear that FGCU’s night was over as Jameis Winston would come in for the ninth to close things out for the Seminoles.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish travel to Tallahassee for a weekend series beginning Friday, April 4th at 6 p.m.