Baseball: Luke Weaver fans 14 in 11-0 win over Troy
A straight-faced Luke Weaver coasted into his chair at the edge of the media room table, his body language working overtime to downplay the kind of night this was.
That left his effort and it left his hair, greasy and smothered with gobs of shaving cream - the innocent victim of postgame celebration - as the beacon.
The sophomore starter posted one of the great playoff starts in program history, tossing eight shutout innings and striking out 14 to propel FSU to an 11-0 win over Troy in the NCAA Regional on Saturday.
"It goes without saying that you saw one of the real outstanding performances," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "We've had a number of guys go out and pitch similar to Luke Weaver but in an environment like this with a lot at stake, he really was the dominating factor in the game."
Weaver was electric from the outset. He struck out six of seven batters in a stretch from the first to the third inning. By the time FSU wrangled a 4-0 lead, an edge that Weaver made feel like 20, Troy had mustered two hits. All told, Weaver sets career highs in innings pitched (8), pitches (115) and strikeouts (14). He gave up four hits. He walked no one.
"It was just working," Weaver said.
"I didn't get a fly ball all day," center fielder Seth Miller said. "You saw from the first inning that Luke had his best stuff today."
Weaver's 14 strikeouts are the most by an FSU pitcher in the NCAA postseason since Tyler Chambliss struck out 15 in 2006.
FSU had its hands full with Troy starter Tanner Hicks through the first four innings, but Hicks' finally cracked in the fifth. FSU plated three runs capped by a solo homer from DJ Stewart to make it 3-0. The Seminoles added a run in the sixth, then punished the Trojans' bullpen with a six-run ninth.
FSU finished with nine extra base hits led by John Nogowski, who went 2 for 4 with a home run, a triple and 3 RBI.
As FSU's bats came around, Weaver never wavered. He sat down three Trojans on seven pitches in the sixth. He induced a double play after allowing a leadoff single in the seventh. Then he fanned two Troy batters in the eighth. He was met with a rousing ovation and a curtain call from the FSU faithful.
"I thought he was special today," Troy head coach Bobby Pierce said.
To make Saturday's effort more impressive, Martin said Weaver was sick earlier this week and was put on medication for a sinus infection and a fever.
"I'm just very proud that he was not about to try to say 'I don't feel like I can go today,'" Martin said. "I watched him take his pill this morning. I may be looking for some of those bad boys myself."
Including Saturday's gem, Weaver has been almost unhittable in his past six starts. He has totaled 58 strikeouts against 8 walks in 44.2 innings to go with just six earned runs - a 1.23 ERA over that stretch.
Weaver's work also has Florida State one win from the Super Regional as it awaits the winner of the Alabama-Troy elimination game at Noon ET on Sunday. The Seminoles get the winner at 5 p.m. ET.
Combined with Friday's 10-0 win over Savannah State, FSU has recorded back-to-back postseason shutouts for the first time since 1970.
"A lot of things went our way today," Martin said. "Credit goes to our young men and the way we play. We got some big hits and certainly Luke Weaver was the story."
The outing showed that. The shaving cream innocently flaunted it.
"It's a good look right now," Weaver joked.
It goes with 14 strikeouts and a postseason shutout just fine.
Florida State has now gone 22 consecutive innings without allowing a run in the NCAA Regional round dating back to its final win over Samford in the 2012 regional.