Florida State's bullpen came up big all night, but it took until almost the very end for the offense to find its big inning.
The No. 1 Seminoles (23-5, 10-2 ACC) scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to finally climb out of an early 3-0 hole, beating Florida Gulf Coast (18-11, 5-1 A-Sun) 8-3 on Tuesday night at Dick Howser Stadium.
Florida State's first three batters in the eighth reached base, and first baseman John Nogowski drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in the tying run. Casey Smit's two-run double with no outs gave the 'Noles a 5-3 lead over the Eagles, their first of the game. The Seminoles piled on from there.
"I think we kind of knew it was coming," Nogowski said. "We were seeing the ball well. We got those two guys on, got the ball rolling, put some pressure on the defense with the bunt."
FSU's bullpen pitched 7.2 shutout innings to keep the Seminoles alive. Sophomore Jameis Winston came on to pitch the ninth, though it was no longer a save situation.
Before that, lefty reliever Dylan Silva came on in relief of starter Peter Miller in the second inning and pitched 3.2 shutout innings.
"We wanted to see how he would react," FSU head coach Mike Martin said. "And he reacted very positively in his opportunity to show what he could do. He didn't get the win, but he kept his team right where the score was and kept us there for four innings, gave us a chance to get back in it."
Senior Gage Smith took over on the mound in the sixth and allowed just one hit in three innings. FSU pulled within one run on a solo homer from Nogowski in the bottom of the fourth, but couldn't finish the comeback there. It would have to wait until the eighth.
Miller was lifted after just four outs, but the damage was done. He walked leadoff batter Jake Noll and hit left fielder Colton Bottomly to open the game, then moved them both over on a wild pitch.
It looked like Miller might get out of the inning without any damage when third baseman Jose Brizuela started a double play with one out, but second baseman John Sansone dropped the throw. Noll scored, while Bottomly scored on a grounder from the next batter. Shortstop Alex Diaz homered in the top of the second before Miller's night ended early, bringing Silva on.
"Getting out of that inning with how it was, was the biggest part of it," Silva said.
Martin said the Seminoles may take another look at their midweek starter after the outing. That might mean more work for Silva, along with lefty Kenny Burkhead and righty Bryant Holtmann.
The Seminoles found themselves even more shorthanded against the Eagles than they had initially expected. Freshman centerfielder Ben DeLuzio was in the dugout, but continued to sit with bruised ribs suffered two weeks ago at Clemson. Sophomore outfielder D.J. Stewart was serving the final game of his four-game suspension for last week's incident against Florida, and senior shortstop Justin Gonzalez missed the game with flu-like symptoms. Gonzalez had started every game this season before Tuesday.
"We could have folded it up, made an excuse," Martin said. "'I'm tired, things aren't going right, three starters are not here.' But we had nine, and I'm very proud of the way our guys played."