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May 22, 2013

ACC Baseball: Ninth-inning home runs doom FSU in 4-3 loss

DURHAM, N.C. - Florida State closer Robby Coles hadn't allowed a home run all season.

Then came the ninth inning in the ACC Tournament on Wednesday.

Coles, a dependable arm ranking third in the ACC in saves, allowed back-to-back, two-out home runs to Georgia Tech in the ninth inning as the Yellow Jackets topped the Seminoles 4-3 in the opening game of the ACC Tournament in Durham, N.C.

It was the first time the Seminoles lost a game in which they led going into the ninth inning all season. Florida State was 40-0 when leading after eight innings.

With FSU one out away from a 3-2 win, Georgia Tech first baseman A.J. Murray hit a shot off of Coles that just cleared the wall in left field to tie the game at 3-3. Shortstop Mott Hyde followed with a home run to almost exactly the same spot. Both came on 0-1 pitches, and the back-to-back homers came from players who had combined for nine home runs all season.

"I'm sure the greatest closer of all time has given up a homer or two," Seminoles coach Mike Martin said. It was the first time Florida State had allowed back-to-back home runs since March 24, 2012. "That's just baseball. But Robby Coles will get the ball if we're in this situation again."

"We were down to our last out, and then the home runs just scraped over the wall," Yellow Jackets coach Danny Hall said. "I thought A.J.'s was going to hit the wall, and I thought Mott was out."

The loss was the Seminoles' fifth straight in ACC Tournament play dating back to the 2011 championship game. Florida State lost its opening game to Georgia Tech in last year's tournament as well.

GT starter Buck Farmer, who pitched seven innings, allowing two runs and striking out eight on Wednesday, pitched six innings for the win last year. He shut out Florida State for seven innings for a win in the regular season this year as well.

"All I've got to say is that Buck Farmer is graduating this year," Martin said as he left the media room.

"He spoke to Buck outside the media room and said he would personally give him his diploma," Hall said.

Tech's ninth-inning comeback erased an impressive Florida State comeback. After the Seminoles fell behind 2-0, they clawed back with two runs in the sixth, highlighted by a D.J. Stewart double and sacrifice flies by Marcus Davis and Jose Brizuela.

Stewart also scored the go-ahead run in the eighth when he led off the inning with a triple that nearly cleared the wall in center field. He then tagged up and scored on a short pop fly to second base, beating a close play at the plate.

"When Marcus popped up (to second base the batter before McGee) we noticed that he kept backpedaling. If he did that again, and we needed the run, we were going to take a chance," Stewart said.

"I was mad at my right fielder for not calling him off," Hall said. "It looked like a defensive mistake was going to give them the win. Luckily, it didn't turn out that way."

Florida State has two more games in pool play, taking on No. 6 seed Virginia Tech Thursday night at 7 p.m. and No. 3 seed Virginia Saturday at 11 a.m. FSU will need to win both and have Georgia Tech lose its final two games to have a chance at advancing to the championship game on Sunday.

"It's going to be difficult," Martin said. "They're all difficult."



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