TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Entering the game in yet another pressure situation, Jessica Nori’s late-inning relief guided No. 21 Florida State to a series victory against rival Georgia Tech, 4-3 on Monday.
Having already come through for the Seminoles (38-10, 12-3) in the first two games of the back-and-forth series Nori entered the contest in the sixth inning with no outs and runners on first and second base. As FSU clung to its one-run lead, Nori did not allow a hit during the final two frames to complete her third save of the season, and keep the Seminoles in first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
All three matchups in the series with the Yellow Jackets (31-18, 10-5) were decided by one run.
Briana Hamilton was one of the main contributors with two RBIs while going 1-for-3 at the plate. Kelly Hensley finished 2-for-3 as FSU produced nine base hits. Kirstin Austin went 1-for-2 with a walk as she continued her torrid hitting in ACC play, showing a .455 batting average (15-for-33).
Lacey Waldrop (16-3) pitched well, allowing three runs on seven hits with two strikeouts in five innings to earn the victory.
FSU picked up a run in the bottom of the first inning when Hamilton’s well-placed bunt to the right side brought home Tiffani Brown from third base, making it 1-0. Brown led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch, stole second base and advanced to third on Shayla Jackson’s groundout.
Georgia Tech picked up two runs in the top of the second, as Katie Johnsky’s single through the right side plated Kate Kuzma to tie the game. Georgia Tech’s Kelly Delashmit then advanced home on a stolen base by Hayley Downs to put the Yellow Jackets ahead 2-1.
With two outs in the third inning, Hamilton provided a big RBI when she hammered a 2-0 pitch for a run-scoring double to left-center, plating Jackso, who kept the inning alive by recording an infield single to the left side.
The top of the fourth did not start well for the Seminoles as Kuzma doubled off of the center-field wall on a 1-0 pitch to lead off the inning. Karly Fullem then pushed Kuzma to third base on a sacrifice bunt, and Johnsky followed with a shallow-fly ball just beyond the infield that Tiffani Brown hauled in on a basket catch, as Kuzma failed to advance on the play. The inning ended when Waldrop induced Hayley Downs into a groundout at first base.
Two crucial runs were scored by FSU in the bottom of the fourth inning. A leadoff walk by Austin followed by singles from Hensley and Erika Leonard loaded the bases with no outs. Celeste Gomez then stepped to the plate and fought off an inside 1-2 pitch for a fielder’s choice RBI as Austin failed to get thrown out at home plate. Amber Bryant tallied an RBI single up the middle to make it 4-2.
Ahead by two runs and still no outs in the fourth with the bases loaded, FSU was unable to get any more across the plate following two fielder’s choices to home plate and a popout, keeping Georgia Tech’s chances alive.
The Yellow Jackets responded in the sixth when Ashley Thomas’ RBI groundout cut their deficit to 4-3. Waldrop would come back to strike out Kelsi Weseman and eventually got Hope Rush to ground out to third base to end the jam.
One of the most pivotal plays occurred in the sixth inning on the defensive end for FSU. With two runners on and no outs, Nori relieved Waldrop and immediately induced a lineout by Johnsky to left fielder Kirstin Austin, who proceeded to make a pinpoint throw to third base as Kuzma was tagged out on the double play.
Chelsie Thomas reached base on a fielding error at first base in the top of the seventh, and then advanced to second base with one out for one of the ACC’s top batters in Weseman. Nori ended up striking out Weseman on a 1-2 pitch, and struck out Alysha Rudnik swinging to end the game.