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February 29, 2012

FSU gains experience, memories in 6-1 loss to Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It wasn't about score, it was about experience when the Seminoles traveled to Clearwater, Fla. to take on the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.

In what has become an annual exhibition meeting between the teams, the Phillies won the game 6-1 at Bright House Field. But the Seminoles, who had the chance to play a large rotation of pitchers and fielders against the the pros, picked up invaluable experience and lasting memories that come along with playing a major league team.

"Our young men really enjoyed that opportunity. It was just great, the way we were treated out here," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "The Phillies are a class organization. Our guys have a lot of great memories."

The 'Noles certainly made memories. Take reliever Adam Simmons, who came in to pitch the sixth inning. Simmons, a senior, was dealt the task of facing future Hall-of-Famer Jim Thome, who flaunts 604 career home runs. Simmons answered the challenge by striking Thome out swinging.

"It's always fun. It's great for me, especially for the debut," Simmons said. "I threw a two-seam (fastball) and managed to get him to swing at it. It felt good."

The 'Noles played 18 men in the game and nine pitchers got to throw an inning each.

Luke Weaver got the start and managed a 1-2-3 first inning to the top of the Phillies lineup - including Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino. FSU's Bryant Holtmann walked one, but also kept the Phillies hitless through the second.

Martin was pleased to see his pitching staff fare so well. The 'Noles didn't allow a run until the sixth inning.

The Phillies hit their groove in the seventh with FSU reliever Mack Waugh on the mound. Philadelphia scored five runs on three hits, including a home run.

FSU's only run was scored off a wild pitch in the seventh that brought Jayce Boyd in from third.

The 'Noles notched six hits in the game, while the Phillies had seven. John Nogowski, Gio Alfonzo and Lee Howard, all freshmen, saw playing time and notched hits.

"After I saw (my hit) go through, I was pumped," Nogowski said. "My mom and dad were in the stands, and my uncle, and they're just smiling ear to ear. It was awesome, it was a great experience. Last year I'm playing high school ball and this year I'm playing against big leaguers. It was surreal."

Martin and the Seminoles leave their third annual outing against the Phillies with a boom in confidence.

"It does their confidence so much good, to say, 'this guy is quick but I'm catching up, I'm seeing the ball the real well, if this is what I'm to expect every night, maybe I do have a chance to play at the next level,'" Martin said. "So that part of it is gratifying to the players and certainly the coaching staff to see how our guys matched up."



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