Friday, June 2, 1989
Florida State used Gar Finnvold's arm and glove to defeat North Carolina 4-2 Friday night in the opening game of the College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium.
The top-seeded Seminoles, 53-16, advanced to the winners' bracket game Sunday while North Carolina, 41-17-1, will play in an elimination game Sunday.
The double-elimination competition in two four-team brackets will determine the finalists for the one-game championship playoff June 10.
Finnvold, who tossed a four-hitter, managed to slow down a line drive to curtail damage in the one-run first inning in a play both coaches called pivotal.
Florida State bounced back to tie it up on designated hitter Buddy Cribb's home run to open the second inning.
"That got our feet back on the ground," Seminole Coach Mike Martin said. "It was important after the way they scored - by playing aggressive baseball."
The Tar Heels pounced on Finnvold early. Singles by Brad Woodall and Ron Maurer, the second on a hit-and-run play, put runners on first and third with one out.
After Jesse Levis walked, loading the bases, Dave Arendas hit a liner that took Finnvold's glove off.
"That was a rocket," Finnvold said. "I thought the ball was still in my glove. When it wasn't there, I was just glad I got some leather on it to prevent more bases and more runs."
The ball went through to shortstop Brian Gilliland for a force at second as Woodall scored.
North Carolina Coach Mike Roberts said:
"That could have been the biggest play of the game." Martin, in a separate press conference, said the play "enabled Gar to get out of the inning" with minimum damage.
Finnvold, a junior right-hander from Boca Raton, Fla., faced the minimum of 18 batters in the second through the seventh innings.
He said he had been "a little worried" by the hits in the first inning.
"I just tried to stay in a groove and keep the ball down," he said.
He improved his record to 10-3 with relief help from sophomore right-hander Ricky Kimball.
Their pitching handed 12-game winner John Thoden his first loss.
Finnvold said his slider was working well.
"That enabled me to spot my fastball and not give them anything good to hit," he said.
Thoden, a junior right-hander, said he was beaten because of a "few bad pitches."
He said Cribb, though, hit a good changeup for the homer to open the second inning.
Cribb, a left-handed designated hitter, drove the ball over the double tier of billboards midway between the 370-foot sign in right field and the 343-foot marker at the foul pole for his 12th homer of the year.
"I was just looking for something to drive," said Cribb, a sophomore from Myrtle Beach, S.C. "They said you can't hit it out of this park, so I was running."
The Seminoles scored two runs in the third to go ahead 3-1 on a leadoff walk, Pedro Grifol's double, Bob Reboin's RBI single and a run-scoring double-play grounder.
Grifol, a sophomore catcher from Miami, Fla., doubled off the 370-foot sign in left field off what Thoden called one of his mistakes.
Rob Bargas, a junior third baseman from Sacramento, Calif., doubled off Thoden to open the FSU seventh, went to third on an infield out and scored an errant pickoff throw by catcher Jesse Levis.
In the eighth, the Tar Heels chased Finnvold after Darren Villani opened the inning with a single, and Steve Estroff walked.
Ryan Howison sacrificed, though the Tar Heels needed more than the two runs represented on base.
"We have to give ourselves a chance to win in the late innings," Roberts said.
Martin relieved Finnvold "though his velocity was still good."
The situation, with runners on second and third and none out, was "made for Kimball in his role on our club," Martin said.
But the Tar Heels worked into a situation "made to order for us," Roberts said.
A walk loaded the bases, and Woodall's sacrifice fly scored a run.
A hit batter filled the bases again and brought up cleanup batter Levis with the bases full.
"If we could have written a script, we wouldn't have it any different than to Levis up in that spot," Roberts said.
But heroics were not to be.
Levis flied out to center field to end the inning. Levis said he "just missed connecting squarely."
Kimball retired the side in order in the ninth to record his ninth save.
"It was a big thrill," he said, "because we might never come here again."
Eyes turned to Martin.
"He's right," the coach said, "but we're going to work awfully hard to try to come back."