Jacksonville Sports Day

Mendoza’s 12th inning Single Leads to FSU’s 23rd CWS Appearance

Photo by Ken Lanese

By Ariya Massoudi, Seminoles.com

BATON ROUGE, La. – See you in Omaha!

Mike Martin’s favorite four words came to life as Florida State (41-21) defeated No. 13 National Seed LSU (40-26) 5-4 in a thrilling 12-inning game, punching the Seminoles ticket back to the College World Series for the 23rd time in school history.

Before Drew Mendoza’s walk-off single scored Mike Salvatore from second base, both teams got brilliant performances from its bullpens in the four hour, 13 minute affair. Antonio Velez (5-2) earned his second win of the Super Regional, striking out 6 batters in 4.2 innings without allowing a run. Devin Fontenot (5-4) struck out 11 in 6.1 innings and gave up just two hits – 12th inning singles to Salvatore and Mendoza.

The win guarantees that Martin will wrap his 40-year career in Omaha, his 17th appearance in the College World Series.

“Unbelievable. I don’t think anyone in this room, let alone this country would have put us in this place right now (into Omaha),” Drew Mendoza said following the game.

“We are all blessed, it’s been an incredible ride. We have always believed in each other and we just got on a roll and are going to keep it going.”

In a reversal from game one of the series, when FSU had to rally in the later innings to knock off the Tigers, FSU jumped to a 3-0 led in the second inning and a 4-1 through five innings before LSU clawed back.

In the 2nd inning the Seminoles got the scoring started as they loaded the bases after a walk to Robby Martin, a bunt single from J.C. Flowers, and a single up the middle from Carter Smith with nobody out.

Nander De Sedas got the Seminoles on the board as he grounded out to first. The return throw home was not held on to by the catcher, allowing Martin to score safely to give FSU a 1-0 lead against Landon Marceaux.

Later in the inning, Mat Nelson ripped a single to left field scoring Flowers and Salvatore, followed by a bloop single into center field scoring Smith, as FSU extended the lead to 3-0.

LSU cut into the FSU lead in the 4th inning with a solo home run from Antoine Duplantis off CJ Van Eyk down the right field line. The ball appeared to curl foul before passing the foul pole, but the call was upheld on review to make it 3-1.

Duplantis finished 4-for-6 Sunday with a pair of singles, a double and a home run. He is the Southeastern Conference’s all-time leader in hits with 359.

In the bottom of the inning, the Seminoles answered back as Nelson singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Tim Becker did what he’s done all post-season and brought Nelson home with a scorching double to left field, giving FSU a 4-1 lead.

In the 6th inning, LSU scratched another run across after three straight singles to make it 4-2. Van Eyk buckled down and was able to limit the damage to get out of the inning with the Noles up a pair. Nelson picked off Giovanni DiGiacomo at third base to help limit the damage to just one run in the frame.

In the 8th inning, the Tigers were able to push two runs across with RBI singles from Duplantis and Zach Watson to tie the game at 4-4 against Van Eyk. Watson was out at second base on his game-tying single, again helping thwart more LSU runs.

Neither team could muster the go-ahead run as the game went into extra innings and the Seminoles brought Velez in.

The lefty was nearly untouchable in four and two-thirds innings of relief. The junior gave up just four hits and no runs, while striking out six batters on 64 total pitches.

In the bottom of the 12th inning, Salvatore laced a one-out single to center field and advanced to second on a wild pitch.

After a strikeout by Reese Albert, Mendoza ripped a two-strike offering from Fontenot into right-center field to clinch the game as the Seminoles are headed to Omaha for the 23rd time in school history.

PLAYER NOTES:

–      Florida State advanced to its 23rd College World Series, third all-time, while head coach Mike Martin will coach in his 17th CWS, tied with Cliff Gustafson of Texas for the most for a single coach.

–      Before Saturday, FSU was 2-10 in Super Regional games away from Tallahassee and has not advanced to the CWS in five tries.

–      The Seminoles have a five-game postseason winning streak away from Dick Howser Stadium, its longest away from home since also winning five straight in 1970. The school record of six straight postseason wins away from home was in 1962.

–      CJ Van Eyk remained 10-3 on the season and is now 7-0 in his last 9 appearances. He struck out 5 batters in 7.1 innings and has 120 on the year. Combined with Drew Parrish’s 116, they join Texas A&M’s Asa Lacy (130) and John Doxakis (115) as the only teammates with 115 strikeouts.

–      Antonio Velez won both games of the Super Regionals. He is 5-2 on the year. On the weekend, Velez pitched 5.2 innings, struck out 7 and did not allow a run.

–      Mike Salvatore had three hits Sunday, including one in the 12th inning that was FSU’s first since the 4th. He has 13 games with at least 3 hits this season and a team-high 87 on the year.

–      Drew Mendoza had the walk-off single for the Noles, FSU’s fifth of the year. He finished with two hits and a walk. His 69 walks rank second nationally in 2019 and tied for eighth in a season in FSU history.

–      Mat Nelson had a pair of hits and also reached on a walk and was hit by a pitch. His 16 HBPs this season tied for sixth in a season in FSU history.

–      J.C. Flowers stole a base in the third inning. He now has 13 home runs, 12 saves and 11 stolen bases on the year.

–      Tim Becker added an RBI double in the fourth inning. He has 9 postseason RBI after having 4 in the regular season.

–      The Seminoles improved to 11-9 all-time against LSU. Martin is now 9-7 against the Tigers.

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