TCU blasts Florida State 8-1 in College World Series opener

By Ryne Sulier

The 19 previous College World Series appearances for Florida State (47-16) didn’t mean squat in Game 1 of the 2010 CWS against Freshman Pitcher of the Year Matt Purke (15-0). TCU (52-12) won it’s first ever College World Series game 8-1 behind Purke’s seven strike-out, one run performance (unearned) in seven innings.

TCU will play the winner of Game 2 (Florida vs. UCLA) Monday at 8 p.m. on ESPN2HD.

TCU Catcher Bryan Holaday hit a solo home run and left fielder Jason Coats had 3 RBIs as six Frogs drove in at least one run.

FSU starting pitcher Sean Gilmartin (9-8) gave up six runs (five in the first inning) on eight hits, walking three batters in three innings pitched. FSU head baseball coach Mike Martin called up six pitchers in the game.

“If you had told me that we were going to get two hits in 27 outs, and no runs, I think I would have discussed it with you,” Martin said. “From our side, we didn’t make an error. You might just saw we got our butts whipped.”

The Seminoles’ took an early 1-0 lead off third baseman Jantzen Witte’s throwing error, but TCU rallied to score five runs in the bottom half of the first inning to give the Frogs a permanent lead. The five runs were the most Gilmartin had ever allowed in the first inning in 38 starts.

Purke struck out the side in the first inning, but an error cost the Frogs an early deficit.

“I caught a break, we caught a break (on the unearned run), and (Purke) did a great job to just come back and stop the bleeding,” FSU third baseman Sherman Johnson said. “They kind of used that as momentum into the next half of the inning.”

TCU responded quickly in the bottom of the first-second baseman Jerome Pena and catcher Bryan Holaday both knocked singles into left field to put runners on first and second. Left fielder Jason Coats hit a two RBI double into the leftfield corner to give TCU a 2-1 lead with one out.

Designated hitter Joe Weik hit another RBI single to bring Coats home. Witte hit a double to the right field wall to put runners on second and third for the Frogs.

Shortstop Taylor Featherston continued the big inning, hitting a RBI sacrifice fly to bring TCU’s early lead to 4-1. Center fielder Aaron Schultz hit one more RBI single before the end of the inning to add another run for the Frogs.

“They’re everything that I saw when I saw them play Texas on television,” Martin said. “They’re everything I thought they were, which I feel they deserve to be in Omaha. They earned it.”

It seemed like luck favored TCU in the second inning after a five-run first inning.

“To come down 1-0 and our guys put up five runs, it takes pressure off of you and you’re able to just go out there and throw and just compete,” Purke said.

FSU designated hitter Stuart Tapley hit a rope right at Witte, but the ball ricocheted off his glove and right into to the hands of Featherston, who had time to throw him out at first. Purke tallied another strike-out in the inning.

Purke walked two strait batters in the third, but Holt touched third base on a infield pop fly but didn’t retouch third when going back to second. Holaday tossed the ball back to third for the double play to end the inning.

Gilmartin matched Purke’s two-straight walks in the bottom of the third, putting Witte and Featherston on first and second base with no outs.

Schultz laid a sacrifice bunt down the third base line to advance the runners.

TCU continued to play small ball–the Frogs attempted a two-run squeeze play, but Rivera’s bunt could only score one run. Featherston was called out on the collision with FSU catcher Rafael Lopez at home plate. TCU was up 6-1 at the end of three innings.

Purke struck out right fielder James Ramsey, but his wild pitch got away from Holaday allowing Ramsey to advance to first. Purke walked shortstop Stephen Cardullo to put runners on first and second with first baseman Jayce Boyd at the plate.

TCU turned a 5-4-3 double play on a grounder to Featherston; Purke struck Boyd at looking to end the inning.

Seminoles’ pitcher Hunter Scantling replaced Gilmartin in the fourth inning. Gilmartin threw 70 pitches and allowed six runs on eight hits in three innings.

Holaday jacked his 14th home run of the season to left field. Holaday’s home run on a 0-1 count put the Frogs up 7-1 in the fourth inning.

“Definitely heard the (fan support) running around the bases,” Holaday said. ‘Everyone that’s behind us, the Fort Worth people that came up to watch us and the hometown people that are supporting us, it’s been great…it just made me feel so amazing.”

Purke cruised through the fifth and six innings, while FSU freshman pitcher Robert Benincasa replaced Scantling.

The Florida State pitching carousel began.

Benincasa didn’t record an out before head Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin called John Gast up from the bullpen. Benincasa walked Rivera and Schultz before being pulled.

Gast pitched his way out of a bases loaded jam with two strikeouts to end the top of the sixth. Purke eclipsed 100 pitches in the seventh, but pitched out the inning stranding seven Seminoles on base through seven innings.

TCU pitcher Eric Marshall replaced Purke (no earned runs, seven Ks), in the eighth inning. Marshall threw 23 pitches, walking one batter and allowing no hits in the eighth inning.

FSU pitcher Tyler Everett came in for the Seminoles’ final inning pitched-he would be the sixth FSU pitcher of the day.

Rivera singled to left in the eighth and Pena hit a sacrifice bunt to advance him to second. Left fielder Jason Coats roped an RBI single to right field to add one more run to TCU’s lead, 8-1.

Notes

The Rosenblatt Stadium crowd of 23,649 was the largest crowd to ever watch a TCU baseball game.

TCU’s 8-1 victory was the first Men’s College World Series victory for a Mountain West Conference team since the conference formed a decade ago.

Saturday’s win marks the first time in 17 starts Purke has not allowed an earned run.

Purke now ranks fourth nationally in strikeouts with 140 after his seven strikeout performance Saturday.

FSU has lost four of its last five CWS openers, dating back to 1996.

FSU went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position and 2-13 with runners on base.

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