It was a waiting game for Conor Grady and the Seminoles.
After giving up a home run in his first inning of work, Grady dug his heels in and delivered a determined outing while holding out for run support.
He ended his day with a career-high 13 strikeouts, only allowing one earned run on 7 hits.
“Conor is cut from that cloth,” coach Mike Martin Jr. said. “He doesn’t let things affect him and he is a grinder. You are going to get his best every single time.”
“I found my change-up in the second inning or third inning,” Grady explained. “It helped me with getting ahead in at-bats and actually putting away hitters. The thing that changed was I found my change-up.”
For a while, it looked as though the run support would not come. No. 20 Florida State (23-16) seemed to be on the verge of another pitchers’ duel, similar to the one it had on Saturday in a 3-0 loss.
Instead, the Seminoles’ bats woke up just enough to score four unanswered runs and complete the comeback to win the series against Troy (21-21) by a score of 4-2.
“Troy gave us all we wanted the whole weekend. Some of their guys are turning the corner and their older guys are starting to put together good AB’s. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make the playoffs,” Martin Jr. said.
The deficit of two runs might have been more if not for a diving stop by third baseman Logan Lacey. Lacey’s play in the hot corner prevented another run from scoring in the inning and allowed Grady to work out of a jam in the third inning.
Despite the Trojans making contact early on, Grady and the pitching staff were able to shut down the offense down the stretch. Tyler Ahearn earned his second win for his effort in relief, and Jack Anderson was credited with his second save of the season. Ross Dunn and Chase Haney also combined for two innings of relief.
The starting pitching was what allowed Florida State to hang around in the ballgame once again. Truthfully, it carried the Seminoles through the series. Florida State struck out the Trojans 44 times over the course of the weekend. The starters did their part as Parker Messick struck out nine on Friday, Bryce Hubbart struck out 12 on Saturday, and Conor Grady had 13 on Sunday.
The Seminoles were able to break through and produce some offense in the bottom of the fifth on a single by infielder Nander De Sedas, which was followed up by a double from Davis Hare. Catcher Matheu Nelson drove home Tyler Martin on his 11th double of the season to tie the game.
Hare followed up his at-bat in the fifth inning with his first career home run in the sixth.
“Davis is a really good athlete,” Martin Jr. said. “He’s mad at me for not getting him in (on the mound) in the ninth inning, but he just wants to do whatever he can to help the team and his bat is rolling right now. He makes great decisions at the plate and runs the bases. He knows what he is doing. He’s a winner.”
Then Nelson hit his 20th home run on the season in the eighth to put the game away for good and clinch a needed series for the ’Noles. Nelson leads the country in both home runs and RBI (57) as the weekend concludes. He is the first Seminole to hit the 20-home run mark since Buster Posey in 2008.
The series against Troy was one that Florida State needed to win. A sweep would look much better in the books, but a series loss would have had the potential to seriously diminish the Seminoles’ standing. A late-season series loss to an out of conference opponent (Sun Belt) would put tremendous weight on the already important series against No. 8 Notre Dame next weekend.
The Troy-FSU box score can be viewed here.
The Seminoles travel to Frank Eck Stadium to take on the Irish in a three-game series that begins on Friday at 6 p.m. All three games are scheduled to be televised by ACC Network.