TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State trio of John Sansone, Cal Raleigh and Matt Henderson came through with 10 hits, eight RBI and four runs as they guided the eighth-ranked Seminoles (21-7, 8-1 ACC) to a 12-7 victory over fourth-ranked Louisville (23-6, 9-4 ACC) in the opening game of the key ACC series Friday evening.
Henderson capped off one of his best performances of the season with a perfect 4-for-4 outing that included two RBI and two runs. Meanwhile, Sansone (3-for-5, 2 2B) and Raleigh (3-5, HR) were responsible for three RBI and one run each.
Despite trailing by two runs in the top of the seventh, reliever Matthew Kinney (3-0) earned the win in one inning on the mound as the Seminoles went onto score seven unanswered in the bottom of the frame. Cobi Johnson shutdown the Louisville lineup in the final two innings, holding the Cardinals hitless to go along with two strikeouts.
“It was one of those games that we got some clutch hits, but at the same time Louisville had some big hits,” added head coach Mike Martin. “I am very pleased that we managed to get Matthew Kinney and Cobi Johnson in there to slow things down, which they did.”
Facing a 7-5 deficit entering the home half of the seventh, Florida State put together a seven-run rally to move in front by five. Dylan Busby opened up scoring for the Seminoles when he trotted home from third on a single through the right side by Gage West. Henderson followed with a single into left centerfield, loading the bases for Taylor Walls who lifted a sacrifice fly to right field, tying the game at seven on a Darren Miller run.
Sansone brought the crowd of 4,495 to its feet in Dick Howser Stadium when he sent a two-run double down the left field line, scoring Henderson and West for the 9-7 FSU advantage. Raleigh then delivered his fifth homerun, this one over the right field wall, providing the Seminoles with a four-run lead. Pinch runner Hank Truluck scored the final run of the frame after an errant throw by Louisville’s Blake Tiberi allowed Busby to advance to second.
“I am very happy that I was able to pick up the team with a clutch double when we needed it,” said Sansone. “But it was a big sigh of relief when we were up by two runs and he (Raleigh) managed to put us up four with the homerun.”
After Louisville jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, Florida State’s offense got on track in the third inning when Henderson began with a leadoff bunt single down the first base line. Walls followed with a double off the right field wall, extending his hitting streak to 16 games, however Henderson was tagged out at third on the play. Walls put the first FSU run on the board when Sansone sent a double down the left field line to slice the margin to 2-1.
Louisville answered back stretching the lead to 4-1, but Miller energized the FSU lineup in the fourth inning with a one-out single into centerfield. DeLuzio moved Miller to second with a single up the middle and Steven Wells Jr. loaded the bases for Henderson with a walk. Henderson responded with a single through the left side of the infield, scoring Miller and DeLuzio, as the Noles pulled within one, 4-3. Despite Sansone’s second hit of the game, a single to second that moved Henderson into scoring position, FSU was unable to even the score.
A Brendan McKay solo homerun to right field extended the Cards' lead to 5-3 lead.
FSU then evened the score in the home half of the sixth after Gage Wells reached on a hit to second base and the tandem of Henderson and Walls loaded the bases with back-to-back walks. Two batters later Raleigh hit a single into shallow right field, scoring Wells and Henderson, to deadlock the score at five-all.
Once again Louisville answered after McKay reached base on a fielder’s choice to third base. Hairston provided Louisville with a 7-5 lead with a two-run homerun over the right field wall, the Cardinals’ third of the game.
It was the last run Louisville would put on the board. Following the seven-run outburst in the seventh, the Seminole pitching staff ended the seesaw affair.
Tomorrow’s pitching showdown features Drew Carlton (4-1, 3.38) and lefty Drew Harrington (6-1, 1.23), also at6 p.m.
The series concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m. when FSU’s Cole Sands (3-3, 4.56 ERA) takes the mound against Kyle Funkhouser (3-2, 4.29).
***Courtesy FSU Athletics