TALLAHASSEE, FL -- On Saturday afternoon, No. 9 Florida State battled No. 13 Indiana in a matchup that lasted 4 hours 15 minutes.
They needed every second.
The Hoosiers (47-14) defeated the Seminoles 10-9 in a game that came down to the final outs. With both the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position and just one away, the Seminoles’ comeback attempt came up short and FSU (47-16) dropped Game 1 of its NCAA Super Regional.
“That was a long game,” a worn-down looking FSU coach Mike Martin said afterward. “This is one of those situations where you look at the opportunities we had.
“But [Indiana] got it done.”
Indiana used 11 hits and a couple of four-run innings to build a late three-run lead over the Seminoles. Catcher Kyle Schwarber keyed the offense for the Hoosiers, going 2 for 4 with a homer and four RBI, and every Indiana starter except center fielder Justin Cureton had a hit.
The game started as a pitcher’s duel as both lineups struggled in their first plate appearances. But by the time each lineup turned over, the duel was over and it was offensive fireworks for the remaining six innings.
A week after the best outing of his career, FSU’s Luke Weaver struggled, lasting six innings and striking out five, but also surrendering seven hits and five runs.
“He kind of beat us with his velocity a lot his first time through [the order],” Indiana shortstop Michael Basil said. “The second time we were ready for it.”
Indiana starter Joey DeNato was equally ineffective. Control issues knocked him out of the game after just three innings. Although he only gave up a hit and two earned runs, he also walked four and plunked two. More than half of the batters he faced reached safely.
After the Hoosiers scored four in the top of the fourth, Florida State matched them and tied the game in the bottom of the inning. In the seventh with FSU leading 6-5, Indiana had another four-run inning, one that Florida State couldn’t match.
In a game that featured four lead changes and two ties, it was three errors in the final innings that doomed the Seminoles. Two errors helped extend the Indiana seventh. Then after FSU went quiet in the bottom of the inning, Indiana added another insurance run on a throwing error by third baseman Jose Brizuela in the eighth.
That run would prove fateful.
The Seminoles got two back in the bottom of the eighth on a John Nogowski two-run home run and were able to keep Indiana off the board in the top of the ninth.
“No doubt in my mind, we were going to tie it [heading into the ninth],” Martin said. “And there was a good feeling we were going to win it.”
The inning started auspiciously enough. Down 10-8, shortstop Gio Alfonzo led off with a single and Casey Smit pinch hit to draw a walk. Two batters later, left fielder DJ Stewart singled to bring in Alfonzo and cut the Indiana lead to one.
But much like they struggled to do all game, the Seminoles couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity to bring in the tying run. A wild pitch advanced both runners into scoring position before Stephen McGee popped out to shallow center and Marcus Davis flew out to right.
On the afternoon, Florida State stranded 13 runners, made three errors and a handful of other mental mistakes.
Now the Seminoles must regroup and be ready for Indiana’s ace, right-hander Aaron Slegers (9-1, 1.94 ERA), at 1 p.m. Sunday. An FSU would force a Game 3 on Monday. A loss ends their season.