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FSU one game from advancing

Published June 6, 2004

TALLAHASSEE - Earlier in the season it would have seemed unlikely that this pair of Florida State pitchers would find themselves on the mound with the chance to put the Seminoles within a game of a super region berth.

Senior right-hander Rhett James wasn't in the FSU rotation at the start of the season. Sophomore lefty Matt DiBlasi, a Countryside graduate, was far from the go-to closer in the bullpen.

But in top-seed Florida State's 3-2 win over Central Florida Saturday at the Tallahassee Region, James pitched 61/3 innings before giving up a hit and DiBlasi got the Seminoles out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth to earn his second save of the season.

"We (the pitching staff) were a little underestimated in the beginning of the season," James said. "And now we're starting to show to everybody that we're Florida State and we're going to be doing the same thing we've been doing every year for 25 years now."

James (10-2) didn't get his first start until a March 30 no-decision against Florida, and started seven games all season before Saturday. Against UCF, only the eighth-inning Golden Knights rally kept him from the complete game.

That's where DiBlasi came in.

After James loaded the bases with a single, a walk and a well-placed bunt single, reliever Kevin Lynch gave up a two-run double to pinch-hitter Marshall Bernhard. DiBlasi then retired three of the four batters he faced in the inning, intentionally walking Hernando High graduate Dee Brown. "He just came out there and stood up there and said, "Hit it if you want to,' " UCF coach Jay Bergman said. "It wasn't a mystery. He came right at you and you have to admire him for that."

DiBlasi was coming off his two best appearances of the season, both against Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament.

"What I did in the ACC tournament was basically a (180)," DiBlasi said. "I never doubted myself."

FSU (44-20) took the lead on sacrifice flies from Ryne Malone in the first and Gibbs Chapman in the fourth and a fourth-inning run-scoring single from Jesuit's Shane Robinson.Mark Sauls (6-4) is the scheduled pitcher today at 1:30 when the Seminoles play the winner of Saturday night's Oklahoma State-Central Florida elimination game.

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