TALLAHASSEE -- A day late. A buck short.
The Florida State Seminoles found themselves on the wrong side of destiny Sunday as Indiana earned its first ever College World Series berth after completing a sweep of the Seminoles with an 11-6 win at Dick Howser Stadium.
FSU just couldn’t put it together during the Super Regional. Whether it was narrowly missing a timely hit or not getting a major out to stop a big inning, the Seminoles just couldn’t anything to bounce their way this weekend.
“I knew it was going to be a tough weekend, I won the coin flip,” joked coach Mike Martin, who rarely wins coin tosses in the postseason.
That coin flip proved to be a bad omen for the Seminoles; it was about as lucky as they would get the entire Super Regional.
The Seminoles found out what it’s like to be on the other end of their own formula for once. All year FSU found the right combination of patience and plate discipline — coupled with a timely hit here or there to overcome youth and dominate large stretches of their schedule.
But in Indiana, the Seminoles found a team with patience and plate discipline to match, and unlike FSU (47-17), the Hoosiers had little problem taking advantage of their opportunities this weekend.
The Hoosiers took control in the fifth inning when Sam Travis hit a two-run homer to break open a tie game.
Following a 10-9 win in Game 1, the Hoosiers (48-14) jumped on the usually steady Scott Sitz for four runs in the very first frame Sunday and continued to apply pressure to the FSU pitching staff for the rest of the day.
In his final appearance at Dick Howser, Sitz lasted just 4 1/3 innings, gave up six hits, seven runs (six earned) and two walks while striking out five. A fan favorite in Tallahassee, Sitz received a standing ovation as he left, but it did little to lift his spirits.
After the game as Sitz attempted to articulate his disappointment, he hung his head and Martin put a hand on his soldier and said, “We wouldn’t have been here if it weren’t for you, buddy.”
There isn’t a better representation of the 2013 Seminoles than Sitz and Martin. Both entered the year as unknown quantities with modest expectations surrounding them.
By the end of the year, they had far surpassed even the most ambitious projections. Sitz was an All-American, and FSU was back in a familiar place — seeded in the NCAA tournament.
But none of that mattered this weekend.
“We never seemed to get a lead that we could add to,” Martin said. “I think we lead one time in two games.”
FSU was 35-4 at home this season before dropping two in a row and stranding 27 baserunners against Indiana. They even out-hit the Hoosiers 23-22, but their bats fell silent when they were needed most.
A single moment in the fifth captured the futile feeling of FSU’s weekend perfectly in just a matter of seconds. After scoring three runs to tie it at 5, FSU had its best chance of the series: bases loaded with its leadoff man digging in. The inning ended four pitches later on a called third strike.
That’s as close as FSU could get. At times it seemed even the tiniest push from fate could be enough to get the Seminoles rolling. The Seminoles had no problem getting to that proverbial door, but they couldn’t keep it from continuing to slam shut in their face just as they were trying to bust on through.
Indiana followed the Seminole fifth with a two-run rebuttal to retake the lead in the bottom of the inning, and FSU never got close again. Four late runs cemented it for the Hoosiers.
Once again, the hunt for Martin’s first title will continue into next year.