TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The #10 Florida State Seminoles notched eight unanswered runs in the middle innings and went on to defeat the VMI Keydets, 9-2, in non-conference baseball action Saturday afternoon at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.
VMI (0-2) jumped ahead in the second inning on a two-out RBI single by sophomore Rob Dickinson, but despite a throwing error and a walk following that hit, the Keydets could not score again. FSU (2-0) then tied the game in the bottom half, and took the lead for good with five runs in the fourth, knocking out VMI starter Jason Farley (0-1). Meanwhile, FSU reliever Adam Simmons (1-0) threw 4.1 innings and gave up just one hit, shutting down the Keydets in those middle innings and allowing the Seminoles to pull away.
FSU would tack on a single run in the sixth and two more in the seventh, while the Keydets cut the margin to 9-2 with a ninth-inning rally.
"I thought we did a much better job of pitching and playing defense tonight," said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. "I was really impressed with Jason Farley. Yes, he gave up that big inning in the fourth, but until then, they had to earn everything. He did a nice job, they just got to him with a couple of situational bunts and a big double. I thought Coby Cowgill did a good job in the middle innings, and obviously, Alan Watts was strong in the eighth. I was also pleased with our young guys, coming off the bench and having quality at-bats late in the ball game, and in fact, I was happy with our quality at-bats early on against their starter and how we were able to get him out of the game so early."
For the second straight game, VMI started with a first-inning rally. After the first two hitters had been retired, Graham Sullivan singled to right and Alex Haitsuka walked. In a long at-bat, FSU starter Brian Busch induced Justin Topping to ground out to third base, ending the Keydet threat. The Seminoles went 1-2-3 in the bottom half, thanks to a caught stealing, and VMI jumped on the board in the bottom half.
With one out, Jacob Morley hit a fly-ball double off the fencing in right-center, and Berkley Hawkins moved him to third with a ground ball. Dickinson then singled cleanly up the middle, driving in his first run of the year and putting VMI up 1-0.
Florida State responded in the bottom half, as a run scored on a long sacrifice fly to right center. Dickinson saved further damage by making the catch, and then made an even better one on the following play, as he ran down a deep drive in left center off the bat of the next hitter.
FSU was held to a single run, and the Keydets knocked out FSU starter Busch in the top of the third. Unfortunately for VMI, Simmons came into the game with two on and induced Morley to ground to third, ending a rally. The Seminoles would then score four runs in the fourth, including two on bunts, to go ahead 5-1.
"Obviously we need to answer with more runs, and with a team like FSU, you can't give up big innings and I was hoping we could answer more quickly than we did," said Coach Ikenberry. "I thought Rob Dickinson had a great night, with his big at-bat early in the game and some nice defense in center field, and I thought Jacob Morley had some quality at-bats too. The important thing for us right now is figuring out where we need to play guys, and what we need to do as a team. This is the time of year to figure that out. This is a tough environment to play in, in front of 5,000 fans, and I was really pleased with the way we competed today."
Meanwhile, Simmons shut down the VMI bats, retiring the first 12 men he faced, and his team added a single run in the sixth before Sam Roberts broke the reliever's run with a two-out single in the seventh. The senior was left stranded, and FSU's James Ramsey had a RBI triple in the bottom half to push the lead to 8-1. Ramsey scored on an RBI groundout to cap the home team's runs, and Chris Russo drove in the final run of the game with a groundout, coming in his first collegiate at-bat.
Farley took the loss in his season debut, going four innings and surrendering six runs, all earned, on seven hits. Coby Cowgill made his season debut for VMI, as he entered in the fifth and worked three frames, giving up two earned runs, while Alan Watts finished up with a scoreless eighth. Sullivan had his second straight two-hit game for the VMI offense.
Simmons grabbed the win for FSU, thanks to 4.1 strong innings of work, giving up no runs on just one hit, while Ramsey went 3 for 3 to pace the Seminoles' offensive attack.
VMI will return to action Sunday for the series finale, taking on the Seminoles at 1 p.m.