On March 11, Florida State baseball walked off then-No.6 Miami’s home turf with a series sweep, dismantling the ’Canes with a shocking scoring margin of 34-2––good for an average of more than 11 runs per game, which was not an isolated event for the Seminoles. Going into Friday’s contest with Boston College, Florida State had 12 games with eight or more runs of offense under its belt. Against BC, the ’Noles made that mark 13.
Two grand slams for Florida State (17-13, 12-10 Atlantic Coast)—one in the third inning and another in the seventh—spelled disaster for the Eagles (14-17, 4-15), who fell 10-2 for their fourth straight loss.
Joe Mancini took the hill for the Eagles, facing off against the Seminoles’ southpaw ace Parker Messick. The two traded blows through two innings, arriving at the third inning scoreless, despite the Eagles putting runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings.
BC’s Brian Dempsey and Jack Cunningham, with a single and a walk, respectively, were stranded in the first, as Messick punched out Vince Cimini looking on an inside fastball. In the second, the Eagles’ Peter Burns smoked Messick’s slider for a double. Messick gathered himself again and finished the inning off with an up-and-in fastball that Chris Galland was late on. Mancini faced one over the minimum number of batters through two, following an efficient nine-pitch first inning with two strikeouts and a groundout in the second.
Dempsey added his second hit of the game, a line-drive double into left field, with one out in the top of the third. Cunningham turned on a pitch with two outs, sending it to the warning track in right, but FSU’s right fielder Robby Martin hauled it in, ending the Eagles’ third scoring opportunity, all without runs. Mancini got to two outs in the third, only walking a pair of batters. Then, Mancini missed with an outside changeup for ball four, loading the bases.
FSU’s catcher and cleanup man, Matheu Nelson, stepped to the plate to fulfill his job description as the fourth in the lineup––to clean up the bases. Coming into the game, Nelson had recorded a .387 batting average with runners in scoring position. He also had a home run total of 13, good for third in Division I baseball. Mancini filled the count. Then, he delivered a fastball, which Nelson sent rocketing out of the park.
FSU’s dugout exploded, and Nelson threw his bat in celebration. On their first hit of the game, the Seminoles were up 4-0.
BC failed to respond in the fourth. Ramon Jimenez doubled down the right-field line with an impressive opposite-field drive off one of the premier arms in the ACC.
Joe Vetrano relieved Mancini in the fourth. On his second pitch, Florida State shortstop Nander De Sedas took him deep, crushing a middle-in cutter to the deepest part of the ballpark in left-center field. Vetrano settled in and finished the inning, stranding two. After four, the scoreboard read 5-0.
BC got its offense going to begin the fifth. Galland and Sal Frelick led off with infield singles, and then Dempsey drew a walk, loading the bases with no outs. Cody Morissette then grounded a ball to De Sedas, but he tried to throw before the ball reached his mitt, misplaying a tailor-made double play. Galland scored from third. Cunningham followed Morissette with a sacrifice fly to left, plating another, but the next two BC hitters were retired, ending the inning. FSU held the lead, 5-2.
The next two innings passed quickly and without any scoring. In the bottom of the seventh, Vetrano allowed the first two Florida State batters to reach base, ending his day with a solid three innings of one-run ball in relief.
BC head coach Mike Gambino called on lefty Will Hesslink to navigate out of the jam. After his first pitch hit the Seminoles’ Reese Albert to load the bases, he struck out De Sedas in four pitches. On the attack, Hesslink got Vince Smith down 0-2 early, ending up with a flyout to shallow center. With two outs, Florida State leadoff man Tyler Martin stepped into the box.
Hesslink hung a belt-high slider on his third pitch. Martin turned on it, propelling it deep into the Tallahassee night, over the NCAA Tournament appearance plaques on the right-field wall. It was Florida State’s second grand slam of the day, and it effectively ended the game. All nine of Florida State’s runs through seven innings came on home runs. The Seminoles tacked on another in the eighth, bringing the score to 10-2, which BC couldn’t come back from in the ninth.
Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics