What a Wild Weekend
The Seminoles are going back to Omaha after eliminating the LSU Tigers in the Super Regional round in Baton Rouge. Going into the 6th inning of game FSU fans had to be wondering if this team could get off the mat once again after being down 4-0 while being no-hit.
But after getting crushed by Florida and NC State in March, scoring 2 runs in 40 innings in March/April and having a no-hitter thrown against them in May, on Saturday, they refused to get knocked out once again.
It started with a single by Robby Martin that advanced Drew Mendoza to third. Mendoza later scored on a Mat Nelson chopper. It was only one run but they broke through. The next inning Tim Becker singled and Mike Salvatore walked with one out. That set the stage for Reese Albert. After working the count full Albert fouled off five 3-2 pitches in a row and on the 11th pitch of the at-bat Albert smashed the offering over the bleachers and onto the weight room roof to tie the game.
In the LSU half of the seventh, Antonio Velez pitched out of a jam to keep it tied.
The next half inning FSU loaded the bases with one out for Becker. He had another solid at bat before hitting a sacrifice fly to left to score Nelson. This gave the Seminoles the lead for good. Albert blasted another home run to give JC Flowers a two run cushion. Flowers had a perfect 8th but worked himself into trouble in the 9th with LSU’s all-time leader Antoine Duplantis at the plate with two out representing the winning run. Flowers induced a pop-up and the Seminoles took a 1-0 lead in the series.
Going into Sunday’s game, analysts thought that if this Seminole team was to advance they would need to do it with their hottest pitcher, CJ Van Eyk, on the mound. FSU took a 3-0 lead in the 2nd with an error by the LSU catcher and RBI singles by Nelson and Salvatore. The Tigers used great pitching and 3 big hits by Duplantis to tie the game at 4 by the bottom of 8th. LSU’s Fontenot and Velez then traded zeros for 4 innings each.
Going into his seventh inning of work (the 12th inning) Fontenot had yet to allow a hit but FSU knew they only had to string together a couple hits and it was on to Omaha. With one out, Salvatore finally connected on a single. Albert struck out, but Salvatore was able to advance to second on a wild pitch. When Mendoza walked to the plate it seemed like the obvious decision was to walk him. But LSU thought otherwise and went after him. Mendoza looked as cool as the other side of the pillow while he awaited the 2-2 pitch. He then smashed it over the second baseman sending Salvatore screeching around to score the winning run. The rest of the Seminoles sprinted out to maul their third baseman for sending them to the 2019 College World Series.
A Look Ahead
FSU will start its run at a title against the Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday at 7 PM. The winner of this game will play Monday at 7 PM versus the winner of the Michigan/Texas Tech game. The loser of FSU/ARK will play Monday at 2 PM versus the loser of Michigan/TTU.
After the monster performance in game one against LSU,Reese Albert was wearing a wrap around his shoulder and struggled mightily with 5 strikeouts in game 2. Hopefully his shoulder gets better because he is a stabilizing force in right field and makes pitchers pay for trying not to walk him to keep the bases clean for Mendoza.
Mat Nelson’s stellar play behind the plate needs to continue to keep up with all the base stealers that FSU will be facing in Omaha.
The regionals did not provide us with the answer for middle relief, but Antonio Velez’s provided two great outings (5.2 innings, 0 runs) in Baton Rouge.
During this postseason run someone unexpected has risen to the occasion in almost every game. It will be interesting to see who next unsung hero will be this weekend. I’m curious to see if Drew Parrish can build on his recent gritty outings and turn in some dominant ones like he did down the stretch last season. If everyone continues to play like they have over the last few weeks and Parrish can return to his form from last year, the Seminoles will have a great shot at sending ‘11’ out on top.