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FSU rallies only to fall late in series opener vs. UNC

Florida State (13-9) lost to North Carolina 4-3 in game 1 of a three-game series at Dick Howser Stadium on Friday night in front of capacity-regulated sell out on very cool but comfortable early evening in Tallahassee.

It was pitchers’ duel between FSU starter Parker Messick and UNC starter Austin Love for the first six innings of the game. Messick went 6.1 innings, allowing just four hits and one earned run while recording a career-best 12 strikeouts. He didn’t get much help from his defense, which committed three errors while Messick was on the mound (including two by SS Nander De Sedas). Love was equally as good on the mound, allowing just two hits and holding FSU scoreless through his first six innings.

Messick held UNC scoreless through the first four innings, where he allowed just two base runners and no hits. However, the Tar Heels broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fifth when 1B Johnny Castagnozzi doubled to right center with one out and then crossed the plate two batters later on a bunt by 2B Colby Wilkerson after he advanced to third on a single by 3B Mac Horvath. Messick managed to limit the Tar Heels to a single run in the inning when he ended the rally with a strikeout leaving two Tar Heel base runners stranded on first and second.

In the top of the seventh the Tar Heels struck again when Castagnozzi reached base to lead off the inning on an error by De Sedas. He then advanced to second on a bunt by Horvath. Castagnozzi and Horvath then were advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Wilkerson. Davis Hare replaced Messick with one out in the inning and struck out the first batter he faced but then gave up a two-run single to give the Tar Heels a 3-0 lead heading into FSU’s half of the inning.

FSU mounted a rally in seventh when C Matheu Nelson reached base on a error to start the inning. Nelson then advanced to second on a wild pitch. CF Reese Albert then walked to give the Seminoles runners on first and second with no outs. Left fielder Elijah Cabell then hit a three-run home run to the ally in left field to tie the game at 3-3. Love was able to keep the game tied for UNC heading into the eighth by retiring the last five batters he faced in the inning.

FSU had a golden opportunity to take the lead in their half of the eighth inning. First baseman Tyler Martin was hit by a pitch to start the inning for FSU. 3B Logan Lacey advanced Martin to second on an infield single. However a pair of UNC relief pitcher struck out FSU’s next three batters, RF Robby Martin, Nelson and Albert, to end the threat and the game still tied.

Relief pitcher Chase Haney entered the game in the ninth for FSU and gave up a single to Castagnozzi to start the inning and was replaced two batters later by Clayton Kwiatkowski, who inherited a runner a first base with one out. Kwiatkowski walked the first batter he faced to give UNC runners at first and second. He was then replaced by Hunter Purdue, who gave up an RBI single to the first batter he faced, CF Justice Thompson, to give UNC a 4-3 lead. A fielder’s choice at second base gave UNC runners at the corners with two outs and then retired the next batter he faced to end the Tar Heels’ scoring threat.

UNC reliever Caden O’Brien then secured the win by retiring the Seminoles in order in the ninth, where he struck out all three FSU batters he faced to end the game.

The Seminoles managed just four hits in the game and struck out 16 times. O’Brien was credited with the win while Haney, who entered the game in the ninth, was credited with his first loss of the season. Six Seminole pitchers gave up seven hits in the game while striking out 15 Tar Heel batters.

BOX SCORE

The FSU-UNC box score can be viewed here.

UP NEXT

The 18th-ranked Seminoles will face the Tar Heels again Saturday in game 2 of the series with first pitch at 2 p.m. at Dick Howser Stadium, where FSU will try to end a three-game ACC losing streak.