June 03, 2007

Tallahassee: Mississippi State comes out on top

Top-seeded Florida State finished an impressive 35-6 at Dick Howser Stadium this season, but two of those losses came this weekend and cost the Seminoles dearly. Two-seeded Mississippi State beat the Tribe two nights in a row to hand the home team an early postseason exit and advance themselves to the Super Regional.

Mike Martin and the Seminoles had won eight previous NCAA Regionals in Tallahassee coming into the weekend, including 20 of their last 23 games, with an all-time record of 70-21. However, healthier than they have been and with a number of close and quality losses to end the season, the Bulldogs snuck into the regional with a deceiving record, put the pressure on the Noles and swept the field.

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Tallahassee: Noles are done, MSU advances

Mississippi State pulled off a 9-4 win to complete the upset and knock out the Seminoles in front of their home crowd. The Dogs will advance to the Super Regional after beating Florida State two nights in a row.

First baseman Brandon Reichert led off the ninth and punched a ball deep down the right-field line that landed foul by inches. He took the next pitch deep too, this time to center field, but MSU center fielder Jeffrey Rea chased it down at the track.

All-American second baseman Tony Thomas Jr. came up next but struck out and shortstop Mark Hallberg hit a grounder to second for the easy out at first to end the game.

Lots of happy Bulldog fans and I'll be back in a few with postgame reactions.

Tallahassee: Last chance for Noles

The Bulldogs strung together three straight singles to load the bases on FSU's Fairel in the bottom of the eighth and right fielder Mitch Moreland kept it going with a two RBI single of his own to give Mississippi State a five-run cushion heading into the ninth.

Fairel was replaced by right hander Jimmy Marshall after throwing career-highs with 4 and 2/3 innings and six strikeouts. Marshall struck out the last two batters of the innings and the Noles have one more shot at a come back.

MSU's Aaron Weatherford shut down the Seminoles in the eighth, throwing two K's and fielding a chopper to first, but the Dogs will make another change to send right fielder Mitch Moreland to the mound for the ninth.

The Noles are just one inning away from elimination now and will need nothing short of a miracle to pull it out. Brandon Reichert will bat first in the nine hole.

Tallahassee: Fairel does his part, Noles need runs

FSU freshman Matt Fairel pitched his third consecutive scoreless inning and now has six strikeouts after logging two more in the seventh.

Fairel bought the Seminoles another chance, still down three, heading into the eighth.

Mississippi State will bring on sophomore closer Aaron Weatherford who had a great showing in the first matchup between the teams.

Tallahassee: Dogs dodge rally

With two out, the bases loaded and the stadium on its feet, MSU reliever Ricky Bowen got Jack Rye to ground out to the second baseman to prevent a Seminole rally and take the wind out of the sails here at Dick Howser.

Mississippi State still leads 7-4 and are up to bat in the bottom of the seventh.

Bowen K'd the first batter, walked Tony Thomas Jr. and then got one heck of a play from his right fielder, who dived right at the wall to snag a deep foul ball hit on a full count. The freshman then walked catcher Buster Posey on a full count to set up home-run Rye and the fan frenzy.

They should've known it was too good to be true.

Tallahassee: Rally Time!!!

MSU freshman Ricky Bowen gave up a single and walked two in the top of the seventh to load the bases and who else but Jack Rye is up to bat with the Dogs leading 7-4.

Rye has already hit two out on the night and it's seventh inning rally time for the Noles with two out.

They're on their feet at Dick Howser! Here we go!!!

Tallahassee: Name must be 'Jack' for a reason

The Noles are still behind but FSU junior Jack Rye sure is doing everything he can at the plate. The right fielder jacked his second home run of the game in the top of the sixth to chip away at the deficit, which is now 7-4.

Meanwhile, MSU's Josh Johnson increased his K count to six, with two in the inning, and was still going strong despite giving up the second homer to Rye. The senior will not return in the seventh as head coach Ron Polk will turn to freshman right hander Ricky Bowen (5-2).

On the other side freshman lefty Matt Fairel is doing his best to keep the Noles in it, with 3 hits, 1 run and 4 strikeouts through 3 and 1/3 innings. He kept the Dogs scoreless in the sixth.

Tallahassee: MSU adds another, 7-3 Dogs

Seminole fans haven't approved of the umps strike zone all game, but their perturbed yells don't seem to be changing anything and the Bulldogs aren't complaining. Mississippi added another run in the bottom of the fourth to give themselves a 7-3 advantage.

Mitch Moreland, who's been a consistent force from the plate all weekend, was credited with the RBI double. Freshman reliever Matt Fairel hit another batter, making it a season-high for now for the FSU staff, but a double play retired the side.

Tallahassee: Rosen self-destructs

Seminole starter Danny Rosen had a miserable third inning and the Bulldogs are back on top, 6-3. Rosen single handedly loaded the bases, hitting two batters and walking another, and MSU took advantage.

Third baseman Russ Sneed knocked in a two RBI single with the next at-bat for the lead. Designated hitter Wyn Diggs loaded it back up with another base hit, and Jet Butler logged the third straight single to score the Bulldogs' third run of the inning.

Freshman lefty Matt Fairel came on in relief and got lead off hitter Jeffrey Rea swinging to end the inning.

Rosen started the game with three K's in the first, but finishes 2 and 2/3 innings with 6 hits, 6 runs, 2 walks and 3 strikeouts.

Tallahassee: Noles tie it up

Florida State got the bats going again in the third and tied up the ballgame. Tony Thomas Jr. punched a double off the center field wall, his 33rd of the season, to start it off.

The speedy Thomas certainly responds well to the crowd, which chanted 'steal Tony, steal' and took third base so fast MSU catcher Edward Easley didn't even bother with the throw.

Shortstop Mark Hallberg took the liberty of hitting Tony home with an RBI single on the next at-bat.

A groundout and another K from Josh Johnson would end the one-run mini rally.

Tallahassee: Dogs: 'We'll call two, raise one'

Mississippi State wasted little time in the hole, answering FSU's two-run frame with three scores of their own, to make it 3-2 Bulldogs after the first inning.

FSU starter Danny Rosen walked lead off batter Jeffrey Rea and freshman Brandon Turner made him pay, bombing a two-run shot of his own up and over the fence in right field.

From then on it was literally hit or miss for Rosen. The junior struck out the next two batters before giving up another home run to MSU first baseman Brian LaNinfa. The starter received a visit from head coach Mike Martin and regrouped to strikeout his third batter for the final out of the inning.

Off to a hot start in Tallahassee and easily the most exciting of the weekend.

Tallahassee: Get Out!!

Mississippi State shutout the Seminoles in the teams' first meeting, but right fielder Jack Rye saw to it personally that the Tribe wouldn't be reduced to a goose egg in this one.

Rye smashed a two-run homer over the right field fence to score himself and Buster Posey to give the Noles an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first.

Tallahassee: One vs. Two, Noles at risk

By this point in the weekend both sides have expended their leading pitchers and so it should get interesting from the mound tonight for top-seeded Florida State and second-seeded Mississippi State.

Both teams are strong offensive ballclubs, however, with a great pitching display in the last matchup you wouldn't have known. Yesterday the Dogs won in a 3-0 shutout, but I seriously doubt that will be the case tonight.

Tonight's starters on a mostly cloudy evening will be FSU junior Danny Rosen (2-1) and MSU Josh Johnson (2-3), both right handers.

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Tallahassee: More rain

Some more rain delayed our start time for Florida State vs. Mississippi State until about 7:20 as the field crew was forced to pull the tarp back on during pregame warmups. Hopefully we'll be ok after that.

We have been told that isolated thunderstorms will be in the area until about 9, so we'll have to keep our fingers crossed. If we do get hit by chance it should blow over.

Despite wet conditions there's plenty of support out at Dick Howser for game six of the regional. The Florida State faithful will be cheering for revenge after getting shutout last night, while the Bulldogs in attendance will root for Mississippi State to go ahead and put the home team to rest.

Tallahassee: That's a wrap

That's all she wrote in Tallahassee as the Seminoles bounce back today to eliminate the Stetson Hatters 17-1, thanks mostly in part to an 11-run seventh inning.

Ryan Strauss gets the win for the Seminoles and improves to 10-3 on the season, giving Florida State three pitchers with at least 10 wins on the year.

The Tribe logged 18 hits for the game, following last night's three-hit struggle, and I guess we'll find out if they can keep it going into the ensuing matchup with the Mississippi State Bulldogs who have yet to fall in regional play.

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Tallahassee: Yay, one run for Stetson

Stetson lead off hitter Shane Jordan, the first batter after the rain delay, took a pitch deep to right for pride and a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth.

Not many folks left after the delay, probably resting up and getting some grub before tonight's matchup, but a handfull of Hatter fans were here to see the homer and yelped in support. Good for them, true fans stay 'til the end and get their money's worth.

The Hatters almost had two in a row but second baseman Casey Frawley's bomb was caught at the wall.

Florida State ended the mini-rally with a double play.

Tallahassee: Back on track

The clouds are gone, the sun is out and we are getting underway again at Dick Howser Stadium.

Unfortunately for the Hatters the score didn't change after the 52-minute rain delay, it's still 17-0 Seminoles.

Florida State will replace starter Ryan Strauss with senior reliever Brian Chambers after 7 innings, 6 hits, no runs, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts through 104 pitches.

Tallahassee: Boo, rain delay

So much for the sunshine, clouds have consumed Dick Howser and we're on rain delay in Tallahassee with the top-seeded Noles up 17-0 in the bottom of the eighth.

It came down heavy and quick, sending the field crew scurrying out with the tarp in impressive time.

Hopefully it will be a short delay as the rain has already stopped and the radar just shows some scattered green stuff. Looks like they'll wait it out for a few though, despite yells from the fans consisting of 'it's not raining anymore' and 'let's go already.'

Tallahassee: Standing 'O'

The Hatters finally stopped the bleeding in an inning that was hard to watch from the press box and I can't even imagine how Stetson fans could stomach the debacle.

11 runs, 7 hits -- 5 singles, 1 double, and 1 three-run home run -- 5 walks, 2 batters hit.

The Seminoles received a standing ovation after the inning from a happy crowd who can rest assured Florida State will live to play another game in the home regional.

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Tallahassee: Yeah, we're done here

The Seminoles banged out ten runs in their favorite inning to take total control in the seventh, in what has become a 15-0 butt kicking at Dick Howser.

We've already seen four pitchers from Stetson in the inning and it just keeps getting uglier by the minute.

Things started to go bad from the start as reliever Justin Dechert earned an early exit after loading the bases with no out.

The Hatters then trotted out sophomore Blake Marsocci, who threw just six pitches to walk in a run and earn a mound visit of his own. Then came freshman Ian Thompson. Then came freshman Robby Donovan.

I'll let you know when it's over.

Tallahasse: FSU defense comes through again

The Hatters logged two singles in the bottom of the sixth, advancing runners to first and third, but Brian Pruitt hit into a double play and the Seminoles escaped the inning unscathed.

FSU starter Ryan Strauss got out of the jam and now sits at 6 innings, 6 hits, no runs and 3 strikeouts. Skipper Mike Martin did, however, send senior reliever Brian Chambers to the bullpen and is ready if needed.

Stetson misses another chance to score and the home fans are loving it. Noles up again in the seventh.

Tallahassee: Here come the Noles

More Stetson fans in attendance today and more bad news for the Hatters in the fifth inning as Florida State is gearing up offensively.

The Seminoles added three more runs on four hits and a wild pitch to make it 5-0, and logged more hits in the inning than they could muster in all of yesterday's loss.

FSU lead-off hitter Tony Thomas Jr. dinged a single through left in the rally to end his regional slump. Thomas was also the speedster on the third when Stetson committed their second wild pitch for a Seminole run on the day.

Hatters' head coach Pete Dunn already pulled starter Jake Hitchcock after 4 and 1/3 innings, 7 hits and 5 runs. Freshman right hander Justin Dechert (6-3) is on in relief with a 4.41 ERA.

Tallahassee: Wild pitch costs Stetson another

With their backs against the wall Mike Martin and the Seminoles are content to play small ball with Stetson. Catcher Buster Posey led off the fourth inning with a double to right center and the Noles moved him to third with a sacrifice bunt.

Stetson starter Jake Hitchcock (5-1) did the rest, allowing Posey to score on a wild pitch and the Seminoles to take a 2-0 lead.

The Hatters fell apart early in their first loss of the regional with too many self inflicted mistakes and that was a costly one there as well. Florida State has all the momentum so far in this one.

Tallahassee: Hatters denied

The Seminoles continue to hit early and aggressive, resulting in three consecutive fly outs -- with each coming on less than three-pitch at-bats -- in a three up, three down top of the third.

Stetson tried to move a runner around in the bottom of the inning, following an FSU throwing error and a sacrifice bunt, but the Noles fielded the next hit and surprised the third-base runner with a throw to the plate and trapped him on the line.

To make matters worse for the Hatters, FSU third basman Jason Stidham fired to second after the tag and caught Stetson batter Shane Jordan trying to take second in time to earn the double play and end the inning.

Tallahassee: Noles on the board first

After a scoreless first inning, first basemen Jason Stidham homered to give Florida State an early 1-0 lead for a change in the top of the second. The Seminoles have gotten off to a slow start in both of their first two matchups and, maybe after learning their lesson, look to be playing a little more aggressive in this one.

Stidham's solo shot came on the first pitch of the at-bat and gave the Garnet and Gold something to cheer about after last night's disappointment.

Meanwhile, FSU starter Ryan Strauss (9-3) looks to be pitching with a lot more confidence than the Seminoles have seen from him in awhile.

Tallahassee: Elimination time

After a 3-0 shutout loss to two-seeded Mississippi State last night, No. 1 seed Florida State is on the ropes against Stetson in Sunday's first-game elimination matchup.

The Hatters also lost to the Bulldogs 6-3 in game one, before trouncing Bethune-Cookman 12-0 to stay alive in the regional.

The winner will play who else but Mississippi State tonight at 7 p.m.

Ironically after narrowly dodging Tropical Storm Barry, we're back to blazing hot and sunny conditions here in Tallahassee for day three. We'll get back to you soon as the action should be heating up very shortly, much like the weather, at Dick Howser Stadium.

June 02, 2007

Tallahasse: 'Beautiful baseball'

MSU's Justin Pigott (6-6) pitched what FSU skipper Mike Martin called "beautiful baseball," as the Bulldogs recorded their first shutout victory of the season over a Seminole offense averaging nine runs a game.

Florida State bats were ablaze with a .355 team batting average for the season, but have cooled off significantly of late. The Tribe's batting average over the last five games hovers around .200.

The Seminoles will now return to play Stetson at 1 p.m. tomorrow and will start right hander Ryan Strauss (9-3). Mississippi State will turn to senior Josh Johnson (2-3) who will start against the early-game winner at 7 p.m.

Here's the post game scoop.

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Tallahassee: It's final, MSU upsets top-seeded Noles

MSU reliever Aaron Weatherford threw four straight balls to walk Florida State's Jack Rye to led off the inning, but settled down to take care of business for the Bulldogs.

Weatherford struck out the next three batters to retire the side and give Mississippi State the 3-0 win over No. 1 seeded FSU in a shutout.

The Seminoles mustered only three hits in the game, their fewest total all season, and were shut out in the postseason for the first time since June 2, 1992.

Pigott gets the win for MSU, and the Dogs will await the winner of Florida State and Stetson, who will face off tomorrow 1 p.m. in the elimination matchup.

Tallahassee: Heading into the ninth

First baseman Brandon Reichert led of with a double from the bottom of the lineup, but Mississippi State shut out the Seminoles for the eighth straight inning.

Sophomore right hander Aaron Weatherford came on in relief for Justin Pigott in the eighth. Pigott's final line is 8 innings, 3 hits, no runs, 3 strikeouts and 1 walk through 115 pitches.

FSU will replace starter Bryan Henry in the ninth with sophomore lefty Travis Burge. His final is 8 innings, 6 hits, 3 runs, 5 strikeouts and 2 walks through 104 pitches.

Here we go to the ninth, last chance for a Seminole come back and the stands are getting anxious.

Tallahassee: Sneed goes deep, 3-0 Dogs

The Seminoles couldn't come up with the seventh inning rally that bailed them out of game one and Mississippi State's Russ Sneed, batting ninth, took advantage of the Dogs' momentum.

The first up in the top of the eighth, Sneed launched a first-pitch fastball over the left field wall to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. It was his first home run of the season and his first career extra-base hit.

MSU catcher Edward Easley sent another pitch way deep but Seminole left fielder D'Vontrey Richardson caught it with his back against the wall for the final out of the inning.

Florida State is warming up the bullpen and coming up in the bottom of the eighth.

Tallahassee: Sorry Nole fans, not this time

No two-out rally this time for the Noles as freshman left fielder D'Vontrey Richardson ended a nine-pitch at-bat with a ground out to the second baseman with two on and two out in the seventh.

Designated hitter Dennis Guinn banged one up the middle for the Seminoles to end a hitting drought that carried all the way from the first inning. Center fielder Mark Gildea then hit an easy grounder to third, but Russ Sneed flat out dropped it out of his glove charging to make the throw and was charged with the error.

MSU starter Justin Pigott started with an 0-2 count on Richardson, but the freshman worked his way back to a full count and then fouled off three straight before grounding out to end the inning.

Tallahassee: Three and out

Mississippi State has now gone three and out for three consecutive innings, but they've held on tight to a 2-0 lead as Seminole hitters have been cold again tonight. Florida State has only one hit through six innings as we head into the seventh.

The Seminoles were in the same situation yesterday, down 2-0, and had a huge seventh inning. I guess we'll see if they can pull it off again tonight.

Both starters are still pitching well, as Pigott is having himself quite a game on behalf of the Bulldogs. Him and Henry both have done a good job of getting ahead early.

Talllahassee: Henry finding his rhythm

FSU's Bryan Henry struck out the last two batters in the top of the fourth and looks to be finding his rhythm after giving up a two-run third to the Bulldogs, who still hold a 2-0 lead.

Both teams went three up, three down in the fourth.

Mississippi State fielded two easy ones to second, to go along with a pop-up, to put out the Noles.

Tallahassee: Bulldogs on the board

Mississippi State figured out Henry in the third, logging four consecutive hits to take an early 2-0 lead. Center fielder Jeffrey Rea got it going with a double to get runners in scoring position and with the hit became the new career hits leader at MSU.

The Noles fought back with a double play and then Mississippi State's Brian LaNinfa was caught stealing and tagged by diving shortstop Mark Hallberg just before the runner from third could steal the plate.

I guess you don't really figure out where the visiting fans are sitting until something happens for them. I found them now, they're sitting right at third base, and they're led by a loud lady wearing a white and maroon shirt. Problem is I remember her and she wore that shirt yesterday.

Tallahassee: All defense after two

Henry sat the Bulldogs down again after four batters in the second, allowing just his 26th walk of the season in 110 innings. Collegiate Baseball's National Player of the Year Tony Thomas Jr. made a heck of a play to get the Noles out of the inning with a running over-the-should grab in shallow right.

FSU designated hitter Dennis Guinn jacked a pitch to deep center, provoking a lot of ew's and ah's from the crowd, but it was caught at the wall by MSU center fielder Jeffrey Rea. However, Jason Stidham grounded out to second and Bulldog starter Justin Pigott got Mark Gildea swinging to send the Noles three and out.

Tallahasee: Noles getting noisy already

Seminole fans waited to get loud until late in the game yesterday and, coincidentally that's about how long it took for the Tribe to get going. They aren't waiting today as it's already loud and alive here at Dick Howser, but not much action after the first inning.

Both teams recorded a hit in the inning, but that's all starting pitchers would allow. Each at-bat was retired after four hitters. Henry got his first strikeout, but other than that it was all defense from both sides.

I've never seen this before, but we actually have a birthday party going on in the stands behind the plate and to my right. I mean they're dishing out presents and cake and the whole deal. Now obviously the party took a break once baseball started, but still, lucky guy.

Tallahassee: Main event

The weather has held up and we're closing in on the main event here at the Tallahassee Regional and it should be a good one. Top-seeded Florida State and two-seed Mississippi State are set for a 7 p.m. start.

The Bulldogs were very much in control in yesterday's 6-3 win over Stetson and tonight will start junior left hander Justin Pigott (5-6). The Seminoles survived a scare from Bethune-Cookman with a five-run sixth inning in game one, and now will rely on the arm of senior All-American Bryan Henry (14-1) for game two.

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Tallahassee: Post game reactions

Stetson head coach Pete Dunn was pleased with his team's drastically improved performance from yesterday, while Bethune-Cookman's Mervyl Melendez was once again unable to get his Wildcats over the 0-2 hump in Tallahasee.

Here's what they had to say after the game.

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Tallahassee: 12-0 final, Wildcats eliminated

We're finally through as Stetson will live to play another day in Tallahassee. The Hatters scored three more runs in the ninth to make it a 12-0 final over Bethune-Cookman.

The Wildcats collapsed defensively in the fourth as a couple errors aided a six-run Stetson rally and created a hole too deep for digging.

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Tallahassee: Kluber calls it a day

I take it Corey Kluber is done. Stetson's senior ace finished the seventh inning, took off his shoes in the dugout and strolled down the track toward the club house. Kluber calls it a day after throwing 78 strikes in 121 pitches, 7 strikeouts and allowing no runs on 5 hits.

He is replaced by Ian Thompson as Hatter head coach Pete Dunn will give the tall freshman left hander a chance to get some work in.

Still 9-0 and, like Kluber, I'm ready to call it a day after a looong and uneventful game three. It's a shame the Wildcats will be the first ones to head home after playing so tough against FSU. They are just not the same team we saw last night.

Tallahassee: Yawns all around

Yesterday's games were going so fast you could miss an inning going to the bathroom. Today, not so much. It's still 9-0 Stetson and literally nothing has happened. It is starting to get a little chilly though with the wind blowing through the windows.

Stetson's Corey Kluber is still going strong after five innings with four hits, no runs and four strikeouts. Sophomore Hiram Burgos is now on for the gloomy Wildcats and was good for two strikeouts in the top of the sixth.

That, and a big dude just walked through the stadium with a Hello Kitty backpack. Didn't see any kids with him, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Tallahassee: Bad day for Bethune

Stetson first baseman Jeremy Cruz rocketed the first pitch of the fourth inning out of the park and a jubilee of Wildcat errors allowed the Hatters to pour it on. Stetson now leads 9-0.

A single followed the homer and the next two batters reached base on errors while bunting, thus loading the bases and it just got worse from there. So far conditions are sloppy and so are the Wildcats, as this one got ugly fast in the fourth.

B-CU head coach Mervyl Melendez pulled starter Dustin Blackwell, who gave up four earned runs and nine total in 3 and 1/3 innings. Junior Phil Enright is now pitching.

Tallahassee: Oops, 3-0 Hatters

Stetson took advantage of a sloppy Wildcat defense and warmed up their bats with four hits and three runs in the top of the third.

Catcher Josh Clendenin led off the inning for Stetson with a weak dinker just past the infield in right. B-CU first baseman Alejandro Jimenez went for it and then backed off, and second baseman Jose Almonte made the play -- too bad Jimenez forgot to cover first.

Then, inexplicably, the next batter laid down what was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt but due to some 'not paying attention' took first and then second too -- weird.

Shane Jordan came through with the two RBI double on the next at-bat and the Hatters took an easy 3-0 lead in the inning.

Tallahassee: Starters in control

A decent crowd for Stetson today but no doubt the weather scared away many potential onlookers. Hatter shortstop Kevin Johnson made a nifty play to snag a hard ground ball headed for the gap, but other than that not much going in Saturday's game one.

One hit apiece for both teams as solid starters are very much in control early. After a disasterous five errors yesterday, the Hatters already committed an error in the bottom of the second -- catcher interference that allowed the batter to take first -- but it didn't do any real damage.

Tallahassee: Looking lucky

We may just get lucky here in Tallahassee as it looks like Tropical Storm Barry is heading northeast and up the coast -- my condolences to those regionals that will suffer accordingly.

There are still some winds and showers lingering from last night and it's certainly not looking pretty at the ballpark, but it should get progressively better in time to clear up for tonight and tomorrow.

Stetson and Bethune-Cookman will play first in soggy but playable conditions -- we certainly won't complain.

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June 01, 2007

Tallahassee: Post game scoop

With a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, only three innings stood between Bethune-Cookman and their first ever win in Tallahassee. But with the crowd rallying behind them the top-seeded Seminoles cranked out five runs in the seventh inning to stun the Wildcats and earn a first round win in the regional.

Florida State will advance tomorrow to the winner's bracket where they and senior ace Bryan Henry (14-1) will face Mississippi State at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs defeated Stetson earlier today by a score of 6-3.

The Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman will pitch Dustin Blackwell (8-5) as they'll take on the Hatters of Stetson for the right to earn a third-game opportunity in the regional.

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Tallahassee: It's official, Noles win 6-2

The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats played their hearts out and led top-seeded Florida State 2-0 for six innings. However, the Seminoles came through in the clutch with a five-run seventh inning to take command and squash any chance of an upset.

Freshman left hander Matt Fairel (2-0) gets the win for the 'Noles after coming on in the sixth in relief of Michael Hyde. Francisco Rodriguez (10-4) takes the loss for the Wildcats despite a great start. His final line was 6 and 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks and 7 strikeouts.

Tallahassee: Home run happy

A stunned Bethune-Cookman team went three-and-out in the top of the eigth and the Seminoles added another home run to make it 6-2 with only the ninth inning left to play.

Freshman left hander Matt Fairel came on in relief of senior Michael Hyde in the sixth and has pitched 2 and 2/3 of Florida State's last five scoreless innings defensively. He retired seven straight batters in that stretch and helped lay the ground for the Seminole come back.

Third baseman Jason Stidham was responsible for the solo shot in the inning, his fifth home run of the year.

Tallahassee: F-S-U! Noles explode to take 5-2 lead

The Seminoles have come alive in the seventh to take a 5-2 lead and Dick Howser is rockin!

Shortstop Mark Hallberg drove an RBI double to right center to break a 2-2 tie after the Seminoles scored two quick runs in the seventh. The stands cheered -- and then they exploded.

Catcher Buster Posey rocketed a pitch over the left-field fence for a two-run shot and a 5-2 advantage that sent Dick Howser into an absolute frenzy.

The rally came after Bethune-Cookman elected to pull starter Francisco Rodriguez after one run scored and with two on. But reliever Felix Machado didn't help and the Seminoles look to have crushed Wildcat hopes of an upset in the seventh.

Tallahassee: Moving quickly

The Wildcats went three-and-out for the second consecutive inning in the top of the fifth, the Seminoles followed suit, and all of a sudden we're halfway done in a little more than an hour. Bethune-Cookman still leads 2-0 and not much has happened since the top of the second.

The good news for the Seminoles is it looks like at least they are starting to figure out Rodriguez. Despite not recording a hit in the inning, Florida State made good contact in the fifth, including a few balls hit hard and far for deep fly outs to left and center field.

Seminole fans are packed in now and getting loud. Must be rally time.

Tallahassee: Rodriguez impressive

Florida State threatened with runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the third, but left both as the Wildcats threw out FSU's Buster Posey at first to sustain a 2-0 lead.

Bethune-Cookman starter Francisco Rodriguez has been nothing short of impressive so far, allowing just two hits and striking out four through three innings. The senior left hander has kept Seminole hitters at bay so far and his defense has been solid with several tough stops in the infield.

The Wildcats are still getting a lot of contact on the Tribe's Michael Hyde, but he's starting to settle down. Hyde struck out the last batter in the top of the fourth for his third strikeout, and the Seminoles retired each of B-CU's first three batters in the inning.

Tallahassee: Wildcats came to play, lead 2-0

No doubt that the Wildcats are here to play and they're playing pretty well so far. Bethune-Cookman leads 2-0 early after Alejandro Jimenez devoured the first pitch he took for a solo shot over the right-center fence to spark the rally.

A small section of support for the Wildcats here in Tallahassee, but consecutive singles and a walk kept the their cheers going and loaded the bases. Neal Jones then hit deep to left field for another score on a sacrifice fly.

The Seminoles got out of the inning on a pop up, but Hyde has already given up four hits and two runs to the Wildcats in two innings.

Tallahassee: Scoreless after one

The Seminoles and Wildcats are just getting started, but the stadium is lively and we're scoreless after the first inning.

Bethune-Cookman led off with a ground out to first and Seminole starter Michael Hyde struck out the next batter. Things got interesting for a minute as third baseman Luis Gonzalez walked and Angel Mercado drilled a line drive to left field, but another out at first stranded the baserunners and ended the inning.

In the bottom of the inning, Bethune-Cookman pitcher Francisco Rodriguez struck out FSU lead off All-American Tony Thomas Jr., despite a crowd frustrated with the ump, and would also get the Seminoles' Jack Rye swinging for the third out.

Tallahassee: Top-seeded Seminoles take the field

The field crew pulled out the tarp at the end of game one and just in the knick of time as it poured on Dick Howser Stadium for about an hour. The good news is that the weather has cleared up for now and No. 1 seed Florida State and No. 4 seed Bethune-Cookman are right on schedule.

Fans are filing in slowly and coping with wet seats, Reason 56 why it's good to be in the press box, but the Garnet and Gold faithful will cheer up come game time. A little rain shouldn't prevent the Seminoles from filling the stands tonight, as proven by an older couple who just walked after braving the rain with rain coats and cowboy hats.

Reason 57 why its good to be in the press box: Firehouse Subs Friday at Dick Howser.

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Tallahassee: Post game quotes

Stetson head coach Pete Dunn said after the game that he still likes his decision to pitch Chris Ingoglia in game one and added that 'Ingo' did everything he could have asked him to. Dunn faulted five errors and 10 strikeouts for the Hatters' loss, as well as not being able to find hits in opportune situations.

Mississippi State's Ron Polk said his club pitched well, hit the ball hard and took advantage of the opportunites they had. He also commended senior Jeffrey Rea for tying Richard Lee for career hits on MSU's all-time list with 328.

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Tallahassee: It's over, Bulldogs win 6-3

Mississippi State controlled game one of the Tallahassee Regional, taking a 6-3 win over Stetson to kickoff the weekend. The Hatters tried to make a game of it with a three-run seventh inning, but five errors and a balk proved to be much too costly for the men in green.

Chad Crosswhite (8-4) takes the win for the Bulldogs and Ricky Bowen is credited with the save after pitching the final two innings and striking out three of the last six Stetson batters. Left hander Chris Ingoglia (9-6) takes the loss for the Hatters, but didn't get much help.

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Tallahassee: Another big mistake from Stetson

Mississippi State added another run to make it 6-3 in the seventh, once again thanks to mistakes made by the Hatters. The Bulldogs got consecutive singles with two outs and both runners advanced on a passed ball. Freshman pitcher Justin Dechert then balked to score the runner from third, unearned.

Stetson came to the plate in the bottom of the frame but the first two batters struck out and the third grounded out first for an unproductive inning to say the least.

A scary moment and big gasp from the crowd came as a Mississippi State bat slipped out of Jet Butler's hands and launched into the Stetson dugout. Luckily everyone was able to dodge the hurling stick but some words were exchanged as the bat was returned. Couldn't tell exactly what was said but it involved 'hold onto your bat' at some point I'm sure.

Tallahassee: Hatters are back in it

Just when it looked like Mississippi State was in command, the Hatters answered with three runs of their own in the top of the seventh and cut the deficit to 5-3.

Third baseman Braedyn Pruitt hit a pitch deep off the left-center wall for a two-out double to score a runner from first and spark the Stetson rally. Left fielder Justin Bass made it official with a two-run shot that cleared right center.

The Hatters still have a shot, but they would be in a lot better shape if they could just stop shooting themselves in the foot.

Tallahassee: Mississippi State in control

Stetson pulled starter Chris Ingoglia after a bad sixth inning for the Hatters. The Bulldogs stretched their lead to 5-0 after a four-hit, three-run frame. Ingoglia pitched 5 and 1/3 innings, allowing 10 hits and 5 runs, 4 earned, with 5 strikeouts.

Designated hitter Brian LaNinfa started things off for Mississippi State with a double down the right-field line and scored from third on a single by third basemen Russ Sneed. Sneed later scored on a fielding error by the catcher, who had better than a good shot at the out, and the Hatters now have five errors for the game.

Ingoglia was replaced by freshman Justin Dechert (6-3) who's made 25 appearances with a 4.41 ERA.

Tallahassee: Don't forget, ump calls the shots

Mississippi State replaced starting pitcher Chad Crosswhite with junior right hander John Lalor in the top of the sixth and so far it looks like a good move for head coach Ron Polk. With two on and one out for Stetson, Lalor recorded back-to-back strikeouts to get out the inning.

Lalor was down 3-0 in the count to sophomore Hatter Jeremy Cruz, but pitched consecutive strikes and got him swinging for his first strikeout. Cruz tried to take first after the first and second strikes but was called back both times by the ump who reminded him who was in charge with an emphatic call on the third.

Still 2-0 Dogs, with Mississippi State coming up in the bottom of the sixth. Final line on Crosswhite, 5 and 1/3 inning, 6 hits, no runs, 2 walks and 83 pitches.

Tallahassee: Noise makers a no-no

Someone just got their cow bell taken away due to an NCAA policy on noise makers. Meanwhile, Mississippi State added another run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 2-0 Bulldogs.

First baseman Mitch Moreland knocked in his second RBI of the game to plate Joseph McCaskill for the score, who is now 3-for-3 on the day.

A decent crowd here now for Mississippi State and their liking what they see so far in Tallahassee.

Tallahassee: Bulldogs bite first

Mississippi State's Mitch Moreland sent a pitch over the wall in right center to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead over Stetson and spark some action in the bottom of the fourth.

Very fortunately for the Hatters, the bleeding stopped there. Consecutive errors allowed runners to reach second and third, and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out. However, Stetson's Chris Ingoglia struck out the last two batters of the inning, including lead-off hitter Jeffrey Rea, and all those in green breathed a hefty sigh of relief.

Despite a decent showing from Ingoglia, who now has five strikeouts, the Hatters allowed Mississippi State to load the bases twice in the last two innings on four errors.

Tallahassee: Double plays aplenty

A lot of contact from both teams but nothing going quite yet in this one as double plays ended scoring opportunities for both clubs in the third inning.

Mississippi State loaded the bases after a few bizarre hits, a deep ball that was misjudged in left field and a curve ball that snuck through the infield, but Hatters' pitcher Chris Ingoglia got out of it despite the poor defensive inning. He has been good so far, allowing just two hits and landing three strikeouts.

Stetson threatened after getting two on following an error and Bulldog pitcher Chad Crosswhite's first walk of the game, but also saw their scoring chance thwarted by a double play.

Tallahassee: Mississippi State and Stetson square off in game one

After some internet trouble and a scramble in the press box, we're ready to get started here in Tallahassee. The scene for the game one matchup between Mississippi State and Stetson will be 80 degrees and overcast with a good chance of emptiness in Dick Howser. Looks like a bit of scattered Bulldog faithful and maybe a few green shirts in support of the Hatters but it's certainly not raining fans for the first game of the tournament.

Stetson head coach Pete Dunn was confident going with Chris Ingoglia (9-5) and the left-handed matchup against the Bulldogs, instead of pitching team ace Corey Kluber (11-2), and it will definitely be something to keep an eye on early. Mississippi State's Ron Polk responded by saying they have faced a lot of good lefty's this season and didn't think it would be a problem.

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May 31, 2007

Tallahassee: Regional Preview

If Thursday's press conference was any indication, the Tallahassee Regional should be a fun and competitive weekend of baseball for a field featuring four dangerous ball clubs and an accomplished group of coaches. Three of the four head coaches have been with their respective schools for 28 years and can account for more than 1,000 wins apiece.

The tournament is headlined by top-seeded Florida State, but coaches made it clear that no one in this field should be taken lightly and each has enough postseason experience to know better. The Seminoles are joined by No. 2 seed Mississippi State, No. 3 seed Stetson and No. 4 seed Bethune-Cookman.

While coaches shared old stories and a few good laughs Thursday in Tallahassee, each of them beamed with confidence and left no doubt that they're all here to win. Here's a quick look at each team.

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