The No. 3 seed Florida State Seminoles downed the top-seeded Georgia Bulldogs in the winner’s bracket of the 2019 NCAA Athens Regional Saturday evening at Foley Field.
FSU (38-21) played to a 12-3 victory over the Bulldogs, who drop to 45-16 on the season. Georgia will face Florida Atlantic in an elimination game at noon on Sunday. By virtue of a coin flip, Georgia will be the designated visiting team in game five. The winner of game five will advance to play Florida State at 6 p.m. at Foley Field.
Game-winning pitcher C.J. Van Eyk (10-3) dominated on the mound. The sophomore Seminole allowed three runs off of nine hits and recorded nine strikeouts in eight innings of work.
On offense, the Bulldogs scattered nine hits with Tucker Maxwell providing three of his own for the second game in a row. Aaron Schunk and John Cable added two apiece.
Bulldog junior Maxwell hit his third leadoff home run of the season, his 12th homer overall, on the second pitch of the game to highlight the opening frame and put the Bulldogs on the board leading 1-0. After a scoreless second inning for both teams, Schunk added another run in the third on an RBI fielder’s choice to push the Bulldogs’ lead to two, 2-0.
By the bottom of the third frame, the Bulldogs could no longer keep FSU off the board. Senior Seminole Tim Becker ignited FSU’s fury with his third career home run, all of which came in this weekend’s regional. This grabbed the team’s first run of the night, still trailing 2-1. FSU added an additional run in the third to take the teams into the fourth frame tied at two-all.
A three-run fourth frame extended the Seminole advantage to 5-2 and forced the Bulldogs to make a call to the bullpen. Next, FSU made quick work with a 4-6-3 play to end Georgia’s half of the fifth inning. The Seminoles eventually pushed its lead to eight in the latter part of the fifth, which was highlighted by Carter Smith’s second homer of the season. Georgia managed to manufacture one more run before succumbing to a 12-3 loss to the Seminoles.
Georgia Ike Cousins Head Coach Scott Stricklin
Opening statement…“First of all, I thought CJ [Van Eyk] threw the ball really well, and we knew coming in that it was going to be a challenge. He’s got excellent stuff, and his breaking ball was outstanding, both with the change-up and fastballs– 95-96– so he was really locked in. I thought he pitched really well. We had a little bit of momentum early. Tucker [Maxwell’s] home run and we had a 2-0 lead, and we just couldn’t hold on to it. I thought [FSU’s] hitters really did a good job on Emerson [Hancock] laying off some tough pitches and making him really, really work. You know, bottom line is they kicked our tail. They got the best of us tonight. That’s why it’s a double elimination tournament, though. We’ve got an opportunity to come back tomorrow. We’ll play Florida Atlantic at noon tomorrow, and we’ll do everything we can to win that game and try to get another shot at Florida State tomorrow night.”
Sophomore Emerson Hancock
On what went wrong on the mound tonight/what about FSU’s approach threw him off… “I just felt like they had a really good approach against me. [They] made me throw some tough pitches got me. There were a couple counts that kind of made me get behind that I had to fight back into the count, but they’re a really good lineup with really good hitters, and they had a really good approach.”
Junior Tucker Maxwell
On how he feels about his team’s ability heading into tomorrow… “Our pitching is built for this. We have the depth throughout the whole team, and all we’ve got to do is come out and play the same game we’ve been trying to play, not trying to do anything too much.”