Auburn, AL - The Florida State baseball team dropped their elimination game to UCLA to end the season. It was a pitcher’s duel late into the game but UCLA did enough offensively to come out ahead and eliminate FSU, 2-1.
After a taxing game on the bullpen against Auburn the night before, Florida State turned to Jonah Scolaro in their elimination game against UCLA. He was shaky in the first with a walk to open the game that was quickly erased by a double play. Scolaro then allowed a single before ending the inning with a flyout. Tyler Martin led off the bottom of the inning with a single but would eventually be caught in a pickoff to end the inning. UCLA would open the second with a double and a walk before Scolaro would pick up a weak pop fly and two strikeouts. The Seminoles would get Brett Roberts to second on a single and wild pitch but Logan Lacey would strikeout to end any threat.
Scolaro seemed to find his footing in the second with the back-to-back strikeouts and shut down the Bruins in the third 1-2-3, including two more Ks. The Seminoles repeated the second inning with a single and advancement to second on a wild pitch, this time by Colton Vincent. But again FSU would end the inning without another hit. Scolaro dominated the fourth by striking out the side and FSU had their best opportunity in the bottom of the frame, but stranded Roberts at third with two outs. In the fifth, Scolaro opened the frame with his eighth strikeout before allowing a single. He responded with a fielder’s choice and his ninth punch out. FSU went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame. UCLA followed suit in the sixth, going 1-2-3. Jordan Carrion tried to bunt his way on to start the bottom of the sixth but was thrown out on a great play by the Bruins. Jaime Ferrer was next up and had struggled so far at the plate with two strikeouts. After chasing an off-speed pitch in the dirt, the next breaking ball hung in the strike zone and Ferrer hit a no-doubt shot over the left field wall to give FSU the 1-0 lead.
The lead was short lived as Scolaro allowed a solo shot on the first pitch of the seventh. He faced two more batters, allowing a single and picking up a fielder’s choice before FSU turned to Wyatt Crowell to finish the seventh. Crowell allowed a four pitch walk and then picked up an overturned out at first for the second out of the inning. A groundout to short would strand two in scoring position to keep the game tied at one. FSU picked up a walk that was erased by a pickoff and then Alex Toral reached by error before UCLA picked up a groundout to end the seventh. UCLA recorded a one out single that could have been an out but Crowell broke late to first to cover. After a strikeout, an infield single and throwing error by Carrion moved runners to first and third with two outs. Coach Mike Martin Jr. then turned to Davis Hare out of the bullpen. Hare picked up a flyout to center keep the score knotted. FSU went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth. UCLA’s Carson Yates connected on a hanging breaking ball for his third homerun of the regional to give UCLA a 2-1 lead in the ninth. James Tibbs through out a runner going to third on a single to help keep the deficit to one run. Tibbs then started the bottom of the ninth with a single to left. Isaiah Perry pinch ran for Tibbs and advanced to second on a sacrifice fly to center. Reese Albert and Treyton Rank both struck out to end the inning and the season for Florida State.
Scolaro saves the pen
The Seminoles threw six arms from their bullpen against Auburn last night. Going into today, only Carson Montgomery and Jackson Baumeister had not thrown a pitch in the regional. FSU turned to Scolaro and Scolaro responded. The redshirt senior tossed a career high 6.1 IP and recorded a career high nine strikeouts. His one mistake was a solo shot in the seventh. FSU’s offense struggled and Scolaro kept the Seminoles in this game until his last pitch.
Glimpses of the future
Jaime Ferrer, James Tibbs, and Treyton Rank all provided glimpses offensively and defensively this weekend of what may be in store for the future of Florida State. How FSU builds around this core will be a big story of the offseason.
FSU’s bats stay out of the zone
The Seminole batters’ approach last night was to wait on strikes and Auburn made them pay. Today, FSU appeared to take an opposite, aggressive approach, chasing several pitches out of the zone. Especially apparent was the Seminole’s inability to lay off UCLA starter Kelly Austin’s breaking pitch in the dirt. FSU picked up six strikeouts against Kelly and chased pitch after pitch out of the strike zone.
FSU has found new ways all year to show off their lack of fundamentals. Some games it is multiple errors, other games it is situational unawareness. Today, and really the entire weekend, baserunning was a focus. Two times in today’s game, Seminole runners were caught in rundowns between first and second. For the weekend, there were four different situations where Florida State lost a baserunner unnecessarily.
Season ends in disappointment
FSU came into the season with high expectations. The one-two punch of Parker Messick and Bryce Hubbart had the Seminoles ranked in the top-10 at times during the season. Florida State was in conversation most of the season to be a regional host but faltered late in the season. Coach Martin and the staff will need to evaluate why the team struggled with basics while filling big holes this offseason.