May 31, 2008


Around the Regionals
Wilson, Bucknell baffle FSU


By Sean Ryan Co-Editor


Move over Texas Southern. Step aside Manhattan. Bucknell became one of the biggest giant-killers of recent college baseball history Friday night.


Mathew Wilson tossed a complete-game, six-hit shutout as the Bison stunned Florida State 7-0. The Seminoles, the No. 4 national seed in this year’s NCAA College Baseball Tournament, came in hitting a nation’s best 350 and averaging 9.4 runs a game, were held to a whimper by Wilson, who entered with a 4.22 ERA. While it marked the first shutout of the year for Florida State, it also was the Seminoles’ first loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament since 1992. The victory also marked the first NCAA tourney win for Bucknell.


“Yes, I think so, it’s probably the biggest win for our program,” Bucknell coach Gene Depew said in an interview with Friday night. “Florida State is one of the biggest stages of college baseball there is in the nation. To be able to come in in front of this kind of crowd and do what we did, it’s a momentous occasion for us.”


The upset - one of several including Lipscomb knocking off No. 8 Georgia - stirred memories of Texas Southern upsetting defending champion Rice in 2004 and Manhattan stunning Joba Chamberlain and Nebraska in 2006. Both the Owls and Cornhuskers were No. 6 national seeds and legitimate national title contenders. Neither made it out of the Regionals.


If the Seminoles (48-11) don’t survive the weekend, they’ll likely have Wilson to blame.


Wilson, a senior from Toronto who wears No. 9, went all nine, striking out three and forcing the Seminoles to put the ball in play. When they did, the Bison (30-22-2) made the plays.


“Mat is a pitcher, and a competitor,” Depew said. “He’s not an overpowering guy, an 84-85 mph guy…he was very sharp with his control. He hit his spots, he made his pitches, he kept the ball down.”


Depew gave almost as much credit to catcher Shawn Hirsch and said that Wilson (6-1) told reporters after the game that all he did was throw what Hirsch wanted and where he wanted it. Hirsch contributed at the plate as well, going 2 for 4 with two RBI, one each in three-run second and fourth innings. Afterward, Depew said his catcher needed an IV for dehydration.


Jason Buursma added two hits and two runs as Bucknell scored three in the second, one in the third and three more in the fourth off Geoff Parker (6-2) and Bo O’Dell.


“We fortunately got some offensive momentum early, two three-run innings,” Depew said. “That shifted pressure from seeing if we could compete with them to seeing if they could come back and compete.”


Wilson and company wouldn’t allow it. No FSU starter, including national player of the year Buster Posey (1 for 3), tallied more than one hit. The crowd of 4,570 at Dick Howser Stadium was quiet for much of the night.


“The best ovation they had was when they got us out 1-2-3 in the fifth inning,” Depew said. “With the way the game went, they didn’t have much to cheer about. And it’s a credit to the way we started and the way the guys played.”


Not a bad trick pulled by a team that was the fourth and final seed in the redesigned Patriot League tourney (which previously welcomed three teams until this year). The Bison went on the road and knocked off top seed Army the first week of the conference tourney, then traveled to Navy and upended the Midshipmen to earn its first trip to the NCAA postseason since 2003.


Instead of simply relishing one of the premier trips in college baseball, Bucknell came out Friday night and was flawless.


And the Bison arguably pulled off one of the biggest upsets in college baseball history.