TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 16 Florida State (8-3) collected 11 hits and the bullpen efforts of Taylor Folsom, Bryant Holtmann and Billy Strode allowed the Seminoles to hold off UNC Wilmington (6-3) for a 9-8 victory. The Noles sweep UNC at Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium.
Taylor Walls and Gage West came through with three hits each and DJ Stewart added a two-run homer to pace the Seminole offense. West and Josh Delph were both perfect at the plate, hitting 3-for-3 and 2-for-2, respectively. West registered three singles and a pair of walks, while Delph walked, was hit by a pitch and reached on two bunt singles.
Folsom (2-0) earned the victory, allowing two hits and an unearned run in 2.0 innings of work. UNCW reliever Cory Gantz (1-1) was credited with the loss.
Holtmann came in relief of Folsom in the fifth and worked 3.2 innings. The senior southpaw gave up a run on three hits. He struck out two and did not give up a walk.
Two of those three hits came with one out in the ninth leading to a pitching change for the Noles. Strode gave up an RBI single to left to the first batter he faced before registering back-to-back strikeouts to preserve the win. The save was Strode’s third in as many games this weekend and fifth of the season.
“He went out there and really pitched well,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said on the performance of Holtmann. “I wanted him to finish it and to give Billy the day off, but Billy had just as much zip on the ball as he did in the other two outings (this weekend). He pitched well and picked up another save.
“We had to do something to change the momentum and our bullpen did the job this afternoon. Don’t forget the job that Taylor Folsom did. He gave up two hits in 2.0 innings and then got drilled in the leg with a ball and didn’t want to come out of the ball game.”
Stewart began the scoring in the bottom of the first with a deep two-run shot to left-center, his second of the series and third of the season. FSU nearly added to the lead with the bases loaded and two outs, but UNCW starter Evan Phillips was able to end the inning with a strikeout.
The Seahawks responded in the second with a solo homer over the right field fence from Gavin Stupienski on a 3-2 offering from Florida State starter Cobi Johnson. Corey Dick followed with a double to left center, and would later score from third on a wild pitch to tie the game. Kennard McDowell would then give the Seahawks the lead at 3-2 with an RBI double off the right field fence to plate Chris Gaffney, who drew a walk.
UNCW added to the lead in the third with a two-out, two-run double into the gap in right-center from Luke Dunlap. An RBI single up the middle from Gaffney on the next at-bat would put the score at 6-2 in favor of the Seahawks and end the afternoon for Johnson.
Johnson would not factor into Sunday’s decision as the freshman right hander gave up six runs on six hits in 2.2 innings as he walked two and struck out six.
A big inning would allow the Seminoles to retake the lead in the bottom half of the third. Five runs would score, aided by RBI’s from Walls, Ben DeLuzio, Danny De La Calle and Darren Miller, bringing the score to 7-6. Eleven batters came to the plate in the inning, which included doubles by Miller and Hank Truluck
“It’s in the determination of our young men, the fight that they showed, the ability to not try and do too much,” added Martin on his team erasing a four-run deficit on Sunday. “I think that’s the biggest deficit that we have faced this weekend which was four and our guys did a good job of staying poised.”
The Seminoles would add to their lead in the fourth when a wild pitch from reliever Justin Crump brought West home. FSU was then able to load the bases with two outs before another wild pitch would plate De La Calle and extend the lead to 9-6.
Stupienski added a run for the Seahawks in the fifth, reaching home on an errant throw from short, one of five errors the Seminoles would commit on Sunday.
In the top of the ninth, Dunlap was able to rip a single down the left field line to bring the Seahawks within a run with one out. However, Strode was able to strike out consecutive batters looking to leave the tying run stranded at second base and complete the series sweep.
“You had two ball clubs getting after it today,” said Martin. “I have to tip my hat to them; they are a very aggressive, well coached team. Our ball club did a lot of things that we needed to do but let’s be honest; we aren’t going to beat people with five errors. It’s something that happens when you have a lot of young guys but it’s something that we must improve on. I am very, very pleased that those guys were not satisfied by winning two ball games. It’s hard to win three ball games.”