June 8, 2008

2008 Super Regionals

Seminoles Smash Back

FSU triumphs to force Game 3


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. - Facing elimination Saturday for the fifth time this postseason, the Florida State Seminoles prevailed 14-4 over Wichita State. With their season on the brink, the FSU players showed tremendous energy and intensity - they were not going to lose this game.


On the hill for the ’Noles was sophomore Matt Fairel, the owner of an 11-2 record and 3.67 ERA. Pitching against him was the Shockers’ Aaron Shafer and his 2.67 ERA.


FSU was without the services of shortstop Tony Delmonico after his injuring his ankle and shin during Friday’s game. The team reshuffled its lineup, moving sophomore Jason Stidham from second base to shortstop and inserting Tommy Oravetz at second. The ’Noles got the best of Wichita State’s pitchers despite not having one of their best players in the lineup, scoring early and often.


WSU posted three runs in the bottom of the first inning, capped by second baseman Josh Workman’s two-RBI single. Fairel rebounded from his shaky first inning to shut down the Shockers’ offense the rest of the way.


“In an elimination game especially, you can’t lose your composure,” Fairel said. “I adjusted. I knew I was in there for the long haul. My defense picked me up, and the offense started rolling. After that first inning, I had confidence in all three of my pitches.”


After scoring one run in the first inning, Florida State added two more in the second, one coming on a home run from third baseman Stuart Tapley. The Seminoles’ biggest scoring output came in the third inning when they erupted for five. Sparking the big inning was first baseman Dennis Guinn, who fought back from an 0-2 count to collect a singe and force Shafer to throw nine pitches in the at-bat.


“That five runs we got in the third inning were encouraging,” Florida State coach Mike Martin said. “We just stayed with what worked all year long. Dennis’ at-bat especially was huge because it kept the inning going.”


Catcher Buster Posey came to the plate later in frame with the bases loaded, and the All-American delivered once again, coming through with a two-run single to give him 89 RBI on the season.


Shafer exited with a final line of 2.2 innings, allowing ten hits and eight runs.


“I think the scoreboard speaks for itself,” Shafer said. “Everything they hit in fair territory was a hit. Nothing was at anybody. I needed one little break, one little anything, and I couldn’t get it. They were patient, and they didn’t miss. That sums up my whole day right there.”


Even with the offensive explosion, the story of the game was the dominant pitching of Fairel. The left-hander matched a career-high eight innings, striking out six and giving up four runs. After the third inning, Fairel permitted just three Shockers to reach base, retiring 12 in a row at one point.


Reliever Ben Francis entered the game in the ninth for a one-two-three inning to finalize the victory for the Tribe.


Wichita State and pitcher Anthony Capra now have the task of halting the FSU momentum in the deciding game Sunday.


“We still have the same goals in front of us as we started the day,” WSU coach Gene Stephenson said.  “We’re coming to play tomorrow, and if we get a well pitched game, I like our chances. We aren’t going to win by giving up 14 runs. We’ll see what happens.”


Florida State will counter with freshman Geoff Parker in the hopes of making its first trip to Omaha since 2000.