June 7, 2008

2008 Super Regionals

Gillaspie, Shocks jolt ’Noles

WSU builds big lead, holds off FSU


By Matt Hickman

Sports Editor, FSView


Matt Hickman is a senior at Florida State University and looks forward to graduating at summer's end. He hails from Lakeland, Fla., but currently resides in Tallahassee. Matt is currently the head sports editor for his school's newspaper, the FSView.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - No. 22 Wichita State and No. 2 Florida State squared off in the first game of Super Regionals Friday afternoon. The high-octane battle would not disappoint, as an early pitchers’ duel evolved into a back-and-forth slugfest. In the end, it was the Shockers who came out on top of an intense 10-7 game.


Taking the mound for the Seminoles was right-hander Elih Villanueva, who boasts a 7-2 record with a 3.61 ERA. Opposing him was Shockers ace Rob Musgrave and his 2.21 ERA.


The game started with controversy in the first inning as WSU’s Ryan Jones slid hard into  second base to break up a double play, injuring Florida State shortstop Tony Delmonico in the process. The game was paused while Delmonico was attended to, but the junior remained in the game despite receiving four stitches to his leg.


The first notch on the scoreboard for either team was registered in the second inning by Seminoles first baseman Dennis Guinn, who smashed a 3-2 pitch over the right-field fence for his 18th home run of the season.


The ’Noles’ lead would be short-lived, however, as the Shockers answered back with three in the fourth, two coming on a homer by catcher Tyler Weber (2 for 4, 3 RBI). In the middle three innings, Wichita State (47-15) started its scoring by getting runners on base by a walk or hit batter. In all, FSU pitchers allowed two walks and hit three batters - all five of these base runners came around to score.


“We’re the kind of team that thrives off of guys getting on base,” Wichita State third baseman Conor Gillaspie (left) said of all the free passes. “[Andy] Dirks has been on base in every game this year, and there’s nobody else in the country that can say that. We thrive off that. We have enough guys that can drive in runs and from that, we have confidence in each other.”


National Player of the Year Buster Posey added a run for the Seminoles (52-11) in the bottom of the fourth with his 25th homer of the season. The blast that cleared the left-field scoreboard ranks the FSU catcher second in home runs in the nation.


Gillaspie tacked three more runs on the board in the top of the sixth with his 11th home run. Designated hitter Clinton McKeever also came around to score in the inning to make it a 9-3 score in favor of the Shockers. Josh Workman went 3 for 4 with a double, two runs and two RBI, the last coming on a RBI single in the eighth.


“I saw how they had pitched Jones, a lot of stuff off the plate, so I figured he was going to try and go away on me,” Gillaspie said. “That ball in Wichita State - guys camp underneath that, and the inning is over. He left the pitch up, and it just worked out for us.”


The Tribe would not go silently as it continued to chip away inning by inning at Wichita State’s lead. FSU chased Musgrave in the sixth inning, but not before he pitched 5.2 solid innings, striking out five while allowing five runs. 


“Well, you really have to tip your cap to Wichita State; they did an outstanding job,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “Musgrave was very impressive, and it certainly was a gutty performance on his part. I was very proud of our young men, the way we fought, but credit Wichita State, they got it done.”


Down 10-5 in the ninth inning, FSU scored twice more on a Stuart Tapley single to cut the lead to just three. With men on first and second and the tying run at the plate, the Shockers brought in Anthony Capra to hold on to the victory. Capra, making his first relief appearance of the season, struck out pinch-hitter Jack Posey to record the save and preserve the 10-7 upset.


“We embrace that role,” McKeever said about being the underdog. “Valley doesn’t get a lot of respect. People say our numbers are inflated because we play in Valley, but we play a good nonconference schedule every year. Our team just goes out and competes the best we can.”


And compete they did, as the Shockers from Wichita State shocked the Seminoles in Game 1 of Super Regionals. WSU will hand the ball to Aaron Shafer (11-3, 2.67) in Saturday’s game looking for a victory and a trip to Omaha for the first time since 1996. FSU counters with Matt Fairel (11-2, 3.67).