TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 12 Florida State (1-0) overcame three first inning errors Friday afternoon scoring a combined six runs over the final two innings. The Seminoles went on to defeat Oakland University (0-1) 7-3 in the 2015 season opener on Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium.
DJ Stewart went 3-for-3 with a double and two walks, John Sansone picked up a key two-out, two-run double in the seventh and Josh Delph broke the game open in the eighth with his first career grand slam as the Seminoles captured their 17th straight victory on opening day.
Oakland took advantage of a sloppy defensive start by the Seminoles as three Florida State errors in the first led to a pair of runs for the Golden Grizzles and an early 2-0 advantage.
“After the first four or five hitters of the game, I thought I was watching an opening day,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “It was just one of those things that was typical of opening day games. You could see some nervous, but it was nice to have Mike Compton on the mound to keep everything from getting out of hand.
“But after that inning, it was a game that was very well played. I was just very pleased with the fact that we got it done. You have to tip your hat to Oakland who hasn’t had a chance to be outside. They really did a good job; they had us on the ropes. They took advantage of our mistakes.”
But the errors did little to rattle FSU starting pitcher Mike Compton as the redshirt junior did not allow a base runner past the first inning retiring the last 15 batters that he faced.
“His performance after that first inning was very impressive,” said Martin. “He really showed the experience factor tonight.”
“It was mainly fastball, slider, mixing in a few change-ups, but not many,” said Compton on what pitches were working for him tonight. “Just getting ahead early, making sure you get that first strike in there and also getting that first guy in the inning out was big too.”
Compton, making his first career start on opening day, worked 6.0 strong innings allowing two unearned runs on three hits, all coming in the first, while striking out six. The Branson, Mo., did not pick up the win leaving after the sixth inning. Compton threw 81 pitches, 60 for strikes.
“We threw up some zeros and just got back to baseball,” added Delph. “I think a lot of people had some jitters. We fought back and just did what we do and that’s play a whole nine-inning game.”
With Compton keeping the Golden Grizzlies offense in-check, the Seminoles got into the Oakland bullpen and slowly chipped away at the lead. After Golden Grizzlies’ starter Jason Hager gave Oakland 4.0 shutout innings on Friday, the Seminoles finally broke through with a run in the fifth when Ben DeLuzio registered a one-out hit back up the middle off Connor Fannon. DeLuzio then swiped second and scored a batter later when Stewart roped an RBI double to left center cutting the deficit to 2-1.
The Seminoles took the lead for good in the seventh courtesy of Sansone’s two-out, two-run double. After Delph drew a one-out walk, Stewart was issued an intentional pass with two outs bringing up Sansone. The junior second baseman laced a 3-1 offering from Lucas Scocchia (0-1) down the line in left plating a pair to give the Noles a 3-2 lead.
“It was huge,” said Sansone on coming through with the key two-out hit. “I was looking to get that first hit on opening day and luckily it came with runners at first and second and a double down the line.”
Delph put the finishing touches on FSU’s come-from-behind victory in the eighth connecting on his first career grand slam. The senior right fielder found a great time to register just his second home run as a Seminole and first since March of 2013, taking the first offering from Oakland right hander Alex Mason out of the park and just inside the right field foul pole.
“You might say he fooled somebody on that AB (at-bat),” said Martin. “I’m sure they were thinking he’s not going to be aggressive early. I was just very, very happy for him (Delph).”
“I knew he had a nice tight slider and with the bases loaded I was looking for a good fastball to hit,” said Delph. “He threw one early and I got ahold of it. I have never hit one before (grand slam)…I was saving it.”
Delph finished the game 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored from the leadoff spot.
Bryant Holtmann (1-0) picked up the win as he worked a scoreless seventh inning. Dylan Silva struck out three of the four batters that he faced in the eighth, while Derek Vail worked the ninth for his first appearance as a Seminole.
Nine of FSU’s 10 hits on opening day came from a returning player. Sophomore JUCO transfer Quincy Nieporte registered the only hit by a newcomer on Friday with a double to left in his first at-bat in the second inning.
“You expect the experience to produce in an opening game like this,” added Martin. “What we all have to understand is that the freshmen, who are starters for us, have to get better every single game. Failure teaches success many, many lessons.”