TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 4 Florida State scored three runs in the third and the Seminoles’ pitching staff held the Duke baseball team scoreless for the second time this season as FSU won the series opener 3-0 Thursday evening at Dick Howser Stadium.
Luke Weaver (8-3), Gage Smith and Jameis Winston combined for the shutout. Weaver held the Blue Devils scoreless over seven innings of work, while Smith and Winston tossed an inning each in relief. Georgia Tech is the only other team to keep Duke (31-22, 15-13 ACC) off the scoreboard this season, blanking the Blue Devils 1-0 April 6 in Atlanta.
Junior Andrew Istler (8-7) pitched well in the loss, facing four batters or fewer in every inning except the third. The Wellington, Fla., native surrendered three runs on six hits with five strikeouts and three walks.
Istler faced the minimum over the first two innings before running into trouble in the third. John Sansone ripped the opening pitch for double, his 13th of the season, and took third on a wild pitch. With the infield in, Danny De La Calle drove him in with a single through the left side. Following a Josh Delph walk, Casey Smit added an RBI single and DJ Stewart drove in a run with a grounder to the right side to put Florida State (40-13, 20-8 ACC) on top by three.
Despite the tough breaks in the third, Istler was outstanding the rest of the way. He allowed just three baserunners over his final three innings of work, keeping the margin at three to give the Blue Devils a chance.
“In Istler’s defense, a little bit of it was bad luck in the third,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “Sansone doubles down the line, certainly that was a well-hit ball. But then we had two see-eye groundballs that got through. He didn’t pitch poorly in the third. They had some groundball contact and found holes and that happens.”
Duke had a runner in scoring position in the fourth as a Jordan Betts leadoff double went for naught. The double was Betts’ team-leading 18th of the season and 67th of his career.
The Blue Devils threatened again in the seventh, loading the bases on back-to-back-to-back singles from Matt Berezo, Grant McCabe and Mike Rosenfeld before Weaver worked out of the jam. Ryan Deitrich nearly delivered the clutch hit, but Seminole shortstop Justin Gonzalez snared the line drive before it could find the outfield grass.
“In the fourth inning, Betts had a great leadoff at bat,” Pollard said. “We just didn’t do a good job of following it up with good at bats behind him. Then we had three really good at bats in the seventh. I thought that our two at bats with runners in scoring position were competitive at bats. Deitrich had a good at bat, got himself in a good count. The ball was pretty close to falling in and being a two-run single with an inch or two in either direction.”
The seventh inning was Weaver’s final in the game. The right-hander scattered five hits while striking out four over seven shutout frames.
Smith allowed one hit, a Betts’ singled, in the eighth prior to Winston completing the shutout in the ninth. Winston retired all three batters he faced for the save, his sixth on the year.
Duke and Florida State meet in the second game of the series Friday at Dick Howser Stadium. Duke right-hander Drew Van Orden (5-4, 3.30 ERA) takes the mound opposite FSU’s Mike Compton (6-1, 3.06 ERA).