Over and over, the 'Noles dared fate against the woeful Villanova Wildcats on Wednesday. The Seminole bats weren't the problem; that blame has to be placed squarely on the pitching and defense, which allowed double-digit runs to a team that came to Tallahassee with just a pair of victories in 2016. So how did Florida State escape with a 14-inning, 11-10 win? Well, the strikeout, especially late, played a big part. And also came close to making FSU baseball history.
Starting pitcher Cobi Johnson was less than impressive in striking out two over three innings while allowing five earned runs. But as the night wore on -- and it did, relentlessly, for nearly five and a half hours -- things improved. Alec Byrd allowed one earned run over two innings, while striking out three. Chase Haney pitched just one inning, but retired two batters via strikeout without surrendering an earned run.
Matt Kinney then chipped in another K, but the real strikeout artistry came from the bullpen thereafter. Redshirt-senior Tyler Warmoth fanned six Villanova batters, over 3.1 innings of work, and they looked utterly clueless at the plate.
Ed Voyles relieved Warmoth and picked up right where he left off. 'Nova threatened, especially in the top of the 12th, when the Wildcats loaded the bases with nobody out. But a pair of Ks saw Voyles emerge unscathed. In the 13th, he let in two runs (only one of which was earned), but nevertheless struck out six in three innings. Will Zirzow notched two Ks to gain the win, and that gave FSU 22 strikeouts in the game, just short of the program record (25), which was set in 1956 against Furman.
This was most certainly an escape game for FSU baseball. And, again, strikeouts played a major role. But can the 'Noles rely on them as they start ACC play? We shall see.