TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 18 Florida State (17-4, 5-1) clinched the weekend series with a 9-6 victory over Wake Forest (13-8, 3-3) in the rubber game Sunday afternoon on Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium.
The Noles came back from a 3-0 deficit after the first inning. The win helped Florida State have a strong finish to its 14-game home stand. FSU finished the stretch with a 13-1 record.
“A big lift for us to answer their three (runs) with two in the first and three in the second,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “Very proud of our young men, the way they bounced back from opening night. This conference is setting up to be exactly like we thought it would be: extremely difficult; long way to go.”
DJ Stewart and Danny De La Calle both came through with two hits in the win. Stewart picked up three RBI, while De La Calle and Quincy Nieporte each drove in two runs. Taylor Walls scored a career-high three runs as he walked twice and singled in the first from the leadoff spot.
Bryant Holtmann (3-1) earned the win in relief limiting the Demon Deacons to a run on three hits as he did not walk a batter and struck out two.
Dylan Silva pitched a perfect eighth inning as he faced the minimum and struck out two. Billy Strode closed things out in the ninth to preserve the win.
After a shaky first inning, Florida State starter Cobi Johnson settled down keeping the Deacs off the scoreboard over the next 3.1 innings of work. The freshman right hander finished the outing allowing three runs, all in the first, on seven hits as he walked one and struck out two.
“Cobi struggled early, then settled down and pitched very good baseball,” said Martin. “But as a youngster, you just have to realize you can't go out there and have to work his way into a rhythm. He has to have it when he takes the mound. But I was very pleased with the composure he showed. Went out there and kept his team in the game.”
Wake wasted very little time to crack the scoreboard on Sunday scoring three runs on four hits off Johnson. The Deacs recorded three straight hits to open the first including an RBI single through the right side by Nate Mondou. Will Craig brought home the second run on a sac-fly to right followed by a two-out RBI bloop single to right off the bat of Stuart Fairchild.
Florida State responded in the bottom half of the inning with a pair of runs to cut the deficit to 3-2. Walls started things off with a single to left, while Stewart reached on a one-out walk. Nieporte brought both runners home on a double down the line in right.
The Seminoles grabbed their first lead of the afternoon following a three-run second to take a 5-3 advantage. De La Calle began the inning with a single through the left side and later scored on a wild pitch. Walls and John Sansone drew back-to-back walks, moved into scoring position on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out single through the right side by Stewart.
Stewart drove in his third run of the game in the fourth with another two-out RBI. After Walls and Sansone drew consecutive walks from Donnie Sellers, Stewart stepped in and ripped a single to the gap in right center to score Walls from second to give the Noles a 6-3 lead.
Wake Forest put two aboard in the fifth after Johnson hit a batter and then gave up a one-out single to Craig. Holtmann came on in relief of Johnson and got a strikeout to the first hitter he faced before hitting Stuart Fairchild to load the bases. The senior southpaw would get out of the jam by getting Justin Yurchak to ground into a fielder’s choice putout at second to end the threat.
The Deacs cut the deficit to 6-4 in the sixth on a solo home run by Bruce Steel. The freshman shortstop took a 1-1 offering from Holtmann over the fence in right for his first career home run.
Florida State broke the game open with a three-run seventh to take a commanding 9-4 lead. Nick Graganella drove in pinch runner Jackson Owens with an RBI double to the gap in right center. With runners at second and third and the infield drawn in, De La Calle bounced a two-run single up the middle to give FSU a five-run advantage.
Wake Forest added two more runs in the ninth on a two-run home run from Craig. It was the first two runs allowed by Strode this year.