TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—For the second consecutive week, the story of the first day of play in Tallahassee was the weather. The opening game of the Tallahassee Super Regional between Florida State and Arkansas was marred by three separate rain delays that totaled 6 hours, seven minutes.
"I have forgotten what happened the first four innings," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "It was so long ago."
The two lefties who started the game, Sean Gilmartin for Florida State and Dallas Keuchel for Arkansas, came back out after the first two delays, but left for good following the third delay. "It was definitely the weirdest start of my career," Keuchel said.
Arkansas led 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning when the final rain delay hit and lasted four hours, 22 minutes. When the game was restarted at 7:30 p.m., both teams went to their bullpens, and the Razorbacks pulled out a 7-2 victory.
Coming into the series, the bullpen seemed to be an advantage for Arkansas, and it was tonight. The Razorbacks went with righty Mike Bolsinger, who threw the last five innings and allowed no runs while striking out six. Bolsinger allowed Arkansas to use just two pitchers in the game. The Razorbacks did not have to go to their shut-down closer, lefty Stephen Richards.
"Mike was huge for us," Van Horn said. "We had Stephen hot, but we did not have to go to him. It is really big for us."
The story of the game for Florida State was clutch hitting—or lack thereof. The Seminoles hit .514 in the regional with runners on base but tonight left 14 men on base.
"It’s the sign of a good pitcher," Van Horn said. "Great pitchers want to pitch with guys on base, and Mike was great."
The disparity in hits was glaring as Florida State had 10 hits in the game, and Arkansas had just five. For Arkansas, the offense was summed up in the top of the seventh, when the Razorbacks scored three runs without a hit. Seminoles coach Mike Martin called the inning "uncharacteristic of this team." Florida State righthander Geoff Parker walked three and hit a batter to allow the go-ahead run. Two sacrifices scored the last two runs of the inning for Arkansas, essentially putting the game away.
"They are as sound fundamentally as any team I have seen, and they deserved to win," Martin said. "Now we’ve got to come out tomorrow and play better."
Arkansas will try to punch its ticket to Omaha on Saturday at noon. It would be the sixth College World Series trip in Arkansas history and the first since 2004.
"It is just another game, and that is how we will approach it," Van Horn said.