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FSU battles, knocks off UCLA in regional opener

AUBURN, Ala. — Under pressure as the regional’s No. 3 seed, Florida State responded early and battled through some adversity to win the opening game.

Jordan Carrion had a two-run triple, Jaime Ferrer had a pair of doubles and Parker Messick as well as the bullpen battled a tough UCLA lineup as the Seminoles picked up a 5-3 win over the Bruins on Friday afternoon at Plainsman Park.

FSU (34-23) will face Auburn on Saturday at 7 p.m. UCLA (38-23) will play SE Louisiana in an elimination game on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Parker Messick (7-5) had his best outing since April, cruising through the four shutout innings before running into trouble in the fifth. The left-hander allowed a pair of earned runs, including Carson Yates’ massive solo home run, but worked his way through the fifth inning.

“It’s playoff baseball,” Messick said. “It’s basically a new season. What happened in the past happened in the past. And that was kind of the same mindset after every start, no matter how good or bad it was.”

Messick threw 85 pitches (55 strikes) and allowed four hits and two walks but left the game on a humid day with the Seminoles in position to win. After laboring through a 32-pitch inning, FSU coach Mike Martin Jr. opted to go to the bullpen.

“He’s our horse,” Martin Jr. said. “He’s the guy that we go to but I didn’t want to go get him but it was over 30 pitches in that fifth inning, 32 in one inning, that was enough.”

Carrion had an opposite-field, two-run triple in the fifth that gave the Seminoles some breathing room and a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth. Albert added an RBI groundout in the sixth to push FSU’s lead to 4-2.

Wyatt Crowell battled through a shaky sixth in which he gave up three walks and threw a wild pitch but did not give up a run. He followed with a 1-2-3 seventh.

Jonah Scolaro struggled in the eighth, hitting a batter, giving up a single and then seeing UCLA advance runners on a sac bunt. Davis Hare recorded a strikeout but then threw a wild pitch to allow the Bruins to score a run and bring the tying run to third. But Yates hit a soft liner to Carrion to end the threat.

Hare closed out the victory, working around a two-out throwing error to shut the door on the Bruins. It was his fourth save.

Alex Toral smashed a no-doubt home run to right field in the ninth to add an insurance run. It was his 15th home run of the season. The Seminoles missed out on some prior chances to pad the lead, including Ferrer’s leadoff double in the eighth.

Messick retired 10 straight Bruins after giving up a leadoff single in the first. He now has 144 strikeouts on the season as he climbs to eighth on the Seminoles’ single-season list.

“I love Messick,” UCLA coach John Savage. “I love his competitiveness. I love his urgency. I love everything about him. … We ran up the pitch count against him. He’s one of the best left-handed pitchers in the country, clearly. Thought we did a pretty good job against him. If that guy only goes five innings, you put yourself in a pretty good position.”

UCLA right-hander Max Rajcic (8-5) tossed six innings, allowing four runs on five hits and two walks. But Rajcic had just one strikeout and the bullpen added only three more.

“Four strikeouts against that staff is all we did,” Martin Jr. said. “Very competitive at-bats. Moved some runners. … We’re just trying to get everybody clicking and I’m seeing some things that I’m liking with some guys.”

Noles extend hitting streaks

Ferrer hit two doubles Friday, extending his hitting streak to eight games and his on-base streak to 11 games. He leads FSU with 19 doubles, and his 68 hits are the most for an FSU freshman since Cal Raleigh had 69 in 2016.

Carrion extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-run triple in the fifth inning. His hitting streak and 12-game on-base streak are the longest on the team.

Noles fans make trip to Auburn

A vocal contingent of FSU fans gave Plainsman Park a feel of Howser, with the Animals bringing Section B and chants of K Time for the afternoon game.

“It felt like a home game,” Messick said. “That’s what we need. We played well and we have a lot of support. We’re going to do it tomorrow night even though it’s definitely going to be an away-feel game, but we’re excited to be able to play that game and it was awesome to see all the support we had for this game.”

Box score: FSU 5, UCLA 3

The FSU – UCLA box score can be viewed here.