The Florida State baseball team opened its regional hosting duties in style on Friday night, stinging the Alabama State Hornets by a final score of 18-6 at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee. This one went from blowout, to nerve-wracking, back to blowout, but the 'Noles got the result they were after.
- The big question coming into this one was if the FSU bats would stay hot against ASU ace Joseph Camacho, who had not been tagged with a loss in the last two seasons. The 'Noles answered that question with an emphatic yes, coming out with a bang. Or maybe that was just the sound of the Alabama State defense imploding. The Hornet battery of Camacho and catcher Chris Biocic combined for three first-inning errors, as ASU chucked the ball all over the place and allowed four unearned runs en route to a seven-run FSU first. Still, 'Nole batters made them pay for those mistakes, going 10-19 (.526) with runners in scoring position on the evening. It was a well-balanced Seminole attack that saw seven different players pick up an RBI-- by the fourth inning, when Florida State plated three more to stretch the lead to 10-1 (nine different 'Noles would finish with at least one RBI by game's end). Dylan Busby led the way with five RBI, bringing his season total to 52. And after allowing a five-run seventh, credit FSU for striking right back in the bottom of the inning, when a triple, four doubles, two HBP, another couple of Hornet errors and a wild pitch improved the Florida State lead from 10-6 to 17-6. Ed Voyles worked a perfect eighth and a scoreless ninth innings to close it out.
- With a seven-run cushion, Florida State starter Drew Carlton's job was clear: throw strikes, and make Alabama State earn their way onto base. He did just that: in 6.2 innings pitched, he matched a season-high 115 total pitches, and 82 of them were strikes. In fact, he didn't walk a single batter, while striking out five.
- Winning big was one thing for FSU, but getting the game in hand so early was quite beneficial as well. Tyler Holton, who started in right field and will be Saturday's starting pitcher, was pulled after picking up a hit, a walk, an RBI, and a run in four innings. This'll give him a little more rest before taking the bump against Southern Miss at 6 pm on Saturday. Reserves Steven Wells, Jr., Nick Graganella, Hank Truluck, and Bryan Bussey all got to the dish.
- While most of the Seminoles contributed nicely in this one, third baseman John Sansone had a rather tough day. The FSU career leader in being hit by pitches, Sansone looked to be hit in his initial first-inning at bat, but was denied first base by the home plate umpire. In his second at bat of the inning, he did wear one. Then, in the second frame, Sansone tried to backhand a one-hopper down the left-field line and wound up taking it off the face, which resulted in a double that would come around to account for ASU's first run. He was charged with the Seminoles' first error when he booted a grounder in the fifth, and finished as one of just two FSU starters without a steak. He also cut off a throw to the plate that could have kept the ASU seventh to "just" a four-run rally. Oh and then in the bottom half of that inning, Sansone was hit by yet another pitch. To his credit, though, he slapped a double to right in the eighth and scored Florida State's final run on a Bussey sac fly.
- While the reserved sections were mostly full, a number of bleacher seats were unoccupied throughout, perhaps due to the sizzling 93 degree temperature at first pitch. Not exactly ideal weather for sitting out in the sun, as shown by the reported attendance of 3,276. And speaking of heat, the Alabama State bats eventually warmed up against Carlton as he tired. With one on and two out in the seventh, the Hornets touched him for a single, a double, and a two-run homer to bring the score to 10-5. His final line: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER. Mike Compton came in for him but continued to provide no relief. After a Busby error kept the inning alive, Compton allowed a walk and a hit to make it 10-6. Chase Haney then surrendered his own base on balls to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate, but a groundout to first ended the threat. In all, seven straight ASU batters reached base with two outs before Florida State escaped.
- But heat is one thing. While it may keep some people home, we may well face an entirely different weather problem on Saturday, as storms are predicted to hit the area around noon, right when South Alabama and Alabama State are scheduled to begin their elimination game.