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Drew Parrish Delivers For Florida State At College World Series

OMAHA — Drew Parrish came roaring off the mound at TD Ameritrade Park after the eighth inning Saturday night. The Florida State lefthander’s night was done after working around a leadoff double, finishing the inning with back-to-back strikeouts against Arkansas sluggers Casey Martin and Matt Goodheart, to keep the College World Series opener for the two teams scoreless.

A little more than 10 minutes later, Parrish was celebrating with his teammates in the first base dugout as J.C. Flowers raced home from third base on a sacrifice fly from Nander De Sedas to give the Seminoles all the breakthrough they needed. Flowers pitched a perfect ninth inning to make that one run stand up, and Florida State beat Arkansas, 1-0, to win its CWS opener for the first time since 1999.

“Drew Parrish is a great Seminole,” coach Mike Martin said. “He's a good student. He's a guy that has done so much for our program. He's a great leader, one of our captains.”

Parrish has spent two years as Florida State’s Friday night starter, thrust into the role a year ago after lefthander Tyler Holton was injured on Opening Day. Time and again, Parrish has come up big for the Seminoles, but Saturday’s scene stood in stark contrast to a scene at Dick Howser Stadium last June.

A year ago, in an elimination game of the Tallahassee Regional against Mississippi State, Parrish was walking off the mound stunned. Elijah MacNamee had just hit a walk-off home run to knock Florida State out of the NCAA Tournament in regionals, a bitter end to another stellar performance from the lefthander.

Parrish doesn’t want to dwell on the past, and he really doesn’t want to make Saturday’s victory about him, but to go from that devastating loss at home to winning the opener in Omaha a year later, it’s been a journey for Parrish and the rest of the Seminoles.

“I don’t want to make it about me, but as a team in general, just being able to get it over the bridge and believe in each other and finally get to each other—it’s a huge team morale and confidence boost,” he said.

On Saturday, it really was about Parrish. He turned in a command performance. Facing Arkansas, which came into the game ranked 15th in the nation in scoring (7.6 runs per game), the lefthander threw eight scoreless innings, striking out nine and scattering five hits and two walks. He flummoxed the Razorbacks with a fastball that sat around 90 mph, a curveball and a premium changeup.

Parrish had an excellent sophomore season in 2018 and finished it by pitching for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. This season, however, has been more up-and-down. He came into Omaha 8-5, 5.11 with 116 strikeouts in 86.1 innings. It wasn’t the year he or anyone with Florida State had hoped for.

But on the sport’s biggest stage, with Florida State aiming to send Martin into retirement with the national championship that has eluded him for so long, Parrish delivered with what he said was his best start of the season.

“It was the best feeling in the world, honestly,” Parrish said. “Twenty-six thousand fans out there watching the game, plus TV and competing against one of the best teams in the tournament. It’s a great team win.

Parrish matched zeroes with Arkansas righthander Isaiah Campbell, an All-American who was drafted 76th overall earlier this month. Campbell threw seven scoreless innings, striking out 10 batters and scattering five hits and two walks. He was rarely in trouble, allowing only two runners to reach second base and none to advance to third base.

Campbell was everything Arkansas has come to expect from its ace, who is now 12-1, 2.13 with 125 strikeouts and 22 walks in 118.1 innings.

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But Parrish, who is listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, outdueled the Razorbacks’ ace. His changeup, typically his best pitch, was excellent against Arkansas. He threw it often and to great effect. But his fastball and curveball were effective as well, giving him a full arsenal to attack opposing hitters.

“The (changeup) was stopping in slow motion, it was stopping in mid-air,” catcher Matheu Nelson said. “It was almost as if the ball was stopping and then the guys were already through their swing and the ball wasn't even there. I mean, his fastball, he was locating well, his curveball was on, he was burying pitches when he needed to. He just did one heck of a job.”

To Parrish’s teammates, the performance was not a surprise. He had some tough starts this season, like when he gave up 10 runs (nine earned) in one inning at Louisville almost exactly a month ago, or last week at Louisiana State, when he gave up four runs and didn’t make it out of the fifth inning in the super regional opener.

But this was the same Parrish that opened the season with five no-hit innings against Maine, fourth months ago to the day, and the one that gave up one run over three starts and 21 innings against Clemson, Virginia and Wake Forest in April.

That is the ace the Seminoles know and the one they expected to see on the mound Saturday.

“That’s the Drew we all know,” said third baseman Drew Mendoza, Parrish’s fellow captain. “That’s what he’s capable of every time he goes out there.

“I don’t think he gets the respect that he deserves, but that’s the Drew Parrish that we all know and that’s the one that’s going to be out there the rest of the time we’re out here in Omaha.”

Florida State is now well positioned for a long stay in the CWS. It advances to Monday’s winners’ bracket game against Michigan, which beat Texas Tech in the first game on Saturday. The winner of that game will advance to Friday’s bracket final, just one win away from playing for a national title. But Florida State won’t allow itself to look ahead, not after working so hard to get to this point.

Even Parrish isn’t celebrating Saturday’s win too much. He’s already on to Michigan.

“Satisfied to an extent because I helped our team win and I’ll do anything for the team,” Parrish said. “But there’s a lot to be done still. As much as I want to harp on this win and really celebrate it, there’s still a lot to do. Monday they’re going to need me to be there for support.”

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