TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Not only was Friday’s matchup between in-state rivals Florida State and Miami a premier rubber match between staff aces Luke Weaver and Chris Diaz, but also a clash between a pair of lineups that although employ different approaches on offense, certainly pose challenges to opposing pitching staffs.
Although the Seminoles have held the upper hand over the past five seasons, winning 11 of 17 matchups, the Hurricanes shifted the trade winds on Friday, grabbing a 3-1 win at Dick Howser Stadium. After the Hurricanes took last weekend’s series against Florida – another in-state rival they have struggled against in recent years – they intend to make this an ongoing trend going forward, as they continue to show characteristics of a 2008 team that brought Miami to Omaha.
The Seminoles came into the game riding a perfect 6-0 record and came out of the gate swinging, as they plated a quick run in the first on a throwing error by third baseman David Thompson. However, that would prove to be all Florida State could muster on the night, as Diaz buckled down and tossed a seven-inning gem.
Diaz kept the Seminoles off-balance throughout the night, as he kept the ball down and generated plenty of sink, in turn inducing plenty of groundballs that one of the better defensive infields in the country handled easily all evening.
The junior southpaw was perhaps most impressive in the third inning when he worked his way out of a jam with runners on the corners and one down. Diaz responded by retiring the heart of the Seminoles’ lineup – striking out DJ Stewart, nabbing Josh Delph at home on a squeeze bunt from Brett Knief, and striking out John Nogowski to end the threat.
Diaz’s counterpart on the mound for the Seminoles pitched a stout game as well, but the cards did not fall in Weaver’s favor on Friday.
Weaver was tested in the third when Miami loaded the bases with two outs, but the junior right-hander came away unscathed by getting Brad Fieger to ground out to first to end the inning. However, Miami would strike in the fourth and fifth frames. In the fourth, with freshmen Zack Collins and Willie Abreu on first and second, a passed ball allowed Abreu to advance to third, allowing Alex Hernandez to send a sac fly to center that would plate Abreu and tie it up at 1-1.
After Carey and Palmer grabbed consecutive singles to open the fifth, Fieger singled to short and with what would have loaded the bases instead allowed the Hurricanes to score on an errant throw from shortstop Justin Gonzalez. A sac fly from Thompson would plate Palmer, giving Miami the 3-1 lead.
Weaver responded with a 1-2-3 sixth, punching out his final two batters looking. In all, the Seminoles’ ace tossed six innings, surrendering three runs (only one of which was earned) and walking two, while adding seven punchouts.
Both bullpens held each other’s offenses in check through the final innings, as Miami clinched the 3-1 victory in the first game of this three-game series. Florida State will send Brandon Leibrandt to the mound tomorrow to face off against Miami’s Bryan Radziewski, as Saturday’s matchup is set to commence at 2:00 PM (EST) at Dick Howser Stadium.