June 5, 2009

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Arkansas Wins Rain Game with FSU

By Paul Thomas

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


Paul Thomas is a junior at Florida State who began covering FSU athletics in November and has covered the baseball team all season for The Osceola and Warchant.com.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Arkansas Razorbacks continue to be unfazed about playing on the road in the NCAA tournament. After defeating Oklahoma twice in Norman last weekend, the Razorbacks took Game 1 from Florida State 7-2 in the Tallahassee Super Regional Friday.


Due to three different weather delays, the game felt as if it was actually two separate games. The first four innings and the last five were separated by a four-hour and 22-minute delay; the game was delayed a total of six hours and seven minutes.


“It’s been a long day, I forgot really the first four innings of the game it just seems so long ago,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said “The rain was obviously interfering with a pretty good ball game. It’s tough on both teams and pitching staffs, but I thought our players did a good job of coming back and finding a way to win.”


Arkansas (38-22) broke open the game with patience at the plate in the seventh inning. FSU reliever Geoff Parker struggled to find the strike zone, and the Razorbacks scored three runs on three walks and no hits to take a 5-2 lead it would not relinquish. In the final five innings of the game Arkansas scored five runs on just one hit as FSU (45-17) made three errors and walked four batters.


“We didn’t do a whole lot offensively, we just scored some runs” Van Horn said “Then Mike [Bolsinger] did a super job getting out of a couple of jams, and I’m just proud of our team for hanging in there one the road.”


When play resumed after the third delay Arkansas reliever Mike Bolsinger (right) entered with two runners on and no outs. After a Mike McGee sacrifice bunt, Stuart Tapley drove in the tying run on a single to make it 2-2.


After giving up that run, Bolsinger settled into a groove, pitching five scoreless innings, giving up just four hits and striking out six to earn his sixth victory of the season.


“I really just finished off what Dallas [Keuchel] started,” Bolsinger said “I was a little iffy in the first inning like I have been, but my velocity throughout the game and my command of my off speed just started coming to together.”


The first four innings saw a pitchers’ duel between Sean Gilmartin and Dallas Keuchel.

Gilmartin gave up two earned runs on four hits in five innings of work, while Keuchel gave up two runs (one earned) in four innings. Both starting pitchers stayed in rhythm despite having to get loose three different times.


“It’s a challenge every single time you get delayed,” Gilmartin said. “You get kind of antsy and want to get back out there as soon as possible, but I just kind of have to stay in my mind set with what I’m doing. I can’t really get too ahead of myself. I can only control certain things, and I can’t control the weather so I don’t let that really affect me at all.”


It didn’t seem to affect Gilmartin at all.


In the fourth inning, he worked himself into a bit of a jam loading the bases with no outs, and then he had to wait 57 minutes to face second baseman Bo Bigham. After the delay, he came out and got Bigham to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. He then struck out Zack Cox, who had homered off Gilmartin earlier in the game, to end the inning.


While the bullpen walks and fielding errors hurt the Seminoles, they still put themselves in a position to score and come back. Instead they stranded a total of 14 base runners – the Seminoles just couldn’t seem to get that big hit.


“Funny how the game is. I kept thinking the same thing [FSU couldn’t get the hit they needed]; we’re just looking for someone to give us that, that lift,” FSU coach Mike Martin said “But you know you’ve got to credit Arkansas. Their pitchers didn’t give us a chance to get that big hit. You’ve got to credit them.”


Florida State and Arkansas will square off in the second game of the Super Regional Saturday at 12 p.m.  Arkansas will be the home team, and it will send right Brett Eibner (5-4 4.25 ERA) to the mound against FSU lefty Brian Busch (6-2, 4.04 ERA). The game will be televised by ESPN2.


(photo by Jimmy Jones)