After playing eight innings in a pitchers dual, top-ranked Florida State blew things wide open Tuesday evening by scoring seven times in the ninth inning to take a 9-1 victory over Stetson.
The loss drops Stetson to 30-18 on the season while FSU improved to 40-8. The teams will conclude their four game season series on Wednesday at Melching Field with the first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m.
The Hatters had the game with striking distance, down 2-1, going to the ninth inning in front of a season-best 2,138 fans. But, finding a way to record those final three outs proved to be extremely difficult.
“Unfortunately, when Abner Doubleday invented the game, he said we should play nine,” Hatters coach Pete Dunn said. “Even through eight innings, the disappointing thing was that we had opportunity after opportunity. We have to get some quality contact in those situations.”
The opposing starting pitchers, Stetson’s Will Dorsey (6-5) and Florida State’s Scott Sitz (3-2) posting matching scoreless innings through five. During that stretch the Hatters got runners into scoring position with less than two out three times, but never delivered the big hit to score a run.
“That is a whole different ball game if we drove those runs in early when we had the opportunities,” Dunn said. “We couldn’t get the ball out of the infield and we punched out twice with a runner at third and less than two outs.
“When you are playing the number one team in the nation, you have to take advantage of every opportunity.”
The Seminoles finally broke through in the sixth inning when All-American James Ramsey followed a one-out single by Devon Travis with a two-run homer to right, chasing Dorsey from the game.
The Stetson senior, who was back on the mound just two days after a one-inning start against USC Upstate on Sunday, allowed just the two runs on four hits over 5.1 innings. He walked one and struck out two.
“Dorsey did a hell of a job out there for us,” Dunn said. “We thought, going in, that if he could give us two or three innings we would be set up for (Robbie) Powell to come in and then piece it together. He just kept going until, unfortunately, Ramsey got into one. He is one of the best college players in the nation and you have to tip your cap to him.”
Stetson got one of the two runs back in the seventh innings and chased Sitz from the game in the process. Mark Jones led off the inning with a double and Kurt Schluter followed with a single. After Sitz was replaced by Bryant Holtmann, and James Rasmussen greeted him with an RBI ground ball to short.
The Hatters had a chance to score more in the inning after Tanner Blackman picked up his third hit (he finished with a career-high four), but Holtmann retired Spencer Theisen and Trey Blackman to get out of the inning.
Things came unraveled for the Hatters in the ninth after an error by Ben Carhart opened the door. The Seminoles followed by sending 13 batters to the plate in the inning against four Stetson hurlers. The final tally for the frame was seven runs on just four hits, only one of which got past the infield. There was also a wild pitch, two passed balls and two intentional walks in the inning.
“They hung around until they took advantage of us in the ninth,” Dunn said. “They made quality contact in that inning, and that is the difference between their club and ours. They had opportunities in that inning and they made quality contact, even though they never hit the ball real hard.”
The Hatters managed just seven hits in the game against a trio of pitchers for Florida State. Blackman had four of those hits, including a triple. Ramsey led FSU with three hits and Jayce Boyd added two for the Seminoles.
Gage Smith earned a save for FSU, his third of the year, by working the final two innings, allowing just a ninth inning single to Blackman.
“Tanner is one of the guys who has really stepped up, and he is a guy that we really need,” Dunn said of the freshman. “He has to stay hot because we have so many guys who are struggling right now. We have to hope they can pull it together down the stretch.”