Saturday, June 12, 1999 • Box score
Florida State took the fifth Saturday, and with it came the game.
The Seminoles rode momentum-shifting performances from reliever Chris Chavez and slugger Matt Diaz in the fifth inning to a 7-3 College World Series victory over Texas A&M.
Chavez, facing potential disaster when he entered the game with the bases loaded and none out in the fifth, needed 14 pitches to strike out the side and protect the Seminoles' 4-3 lead. He followed that up with four more innings of one-hit pitching, facing a minimum 15 batters in the process.
"When Chris came in and shut them down, it put a little hop into our step," Diaz said. "We came running off the field thinking we might not have to hear No. 11 yell dadgummit a bunch of times."
Florida State Coach Mike Martin, who wears No. 11, then had additional reason to cheer when Diaz led off the Seminoles' half of the fifth with his second home run of the game. Diaz's homer, on a 1-2 pitch from losing pitcher Casey Fossum, tightened Florida State's grip on just its fifth victory this decade at Rosenblatt Stadium.
"First of all, I want to apologize to everyone," Martin said after entering the postgame interview room. "I'm so used to being here first that I had to go back down to the field and wait my turn."
Instead, Texas A&M found itself in the unwanted leadoff spot in the interview process as the loser. Monday, the Aggies will face elimination when it meets the loser of Saturday's second Bracket Two game between Stanford and Cal State Fullerton.
Florida State's win, before a session-record 19,745, advanced the Seminoles into Monday's 2:36 p.m. winners' bracket game. It also inched them closer to the school's first national championship, although Martin was quick to point out that there is still much baseball to be played in the 53rd CWS.
"We're only 25 percent of where we need to be," Martin said. "You can't start thinking just because we won a baseball game, folks, that it's going to mushroom. You have to go out there and earn it.
"You don't win by wishing. When you're facing that 15-foot putt, you don't wish it in the hole. You have to knock it in."
The Seminoles might have been taking their second shot from the rough had it not been for Chavez, their senior right-hander who stepped into a mine field Saturday. Florida State starter Nick Stocks took a 4-3 lead into the fifth inning but loaded the bases by walking Daylan Holt, Steven Truitt and Sean Haney.
Martin called for Chavez, whose effectiveness is reflected in the .194 batting average he's held opponents to this season.
Chavez needed 14 pitches, 11 of which were strikes, to strike out Sean Heaney, Greg Porter and Dell Lindsey to pull the Seminoles out of danger.
"It wasn't that tough a situation - bases-loaded, nobody out, one-run lead," Martin deadpanned. "Chris came in and took control of the ballgame. That undoubtedly was the momentum that we needed because any type of ground ball or fly ball and you're talking about a tie ballgame with them still having an opportunity to score some more runs."
Texas A&M Coach Mark Johnson, while praising Chavez, refused to call the Aggies' failure to convert their fifth-inning scoring opportunity the turning point of the ballgame.
"But when you load the bases with no outs, you feel pretty good about yourself," Johnson said.