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Florida State did not win the national championship in 1986, but it came as close as it ever has.

On this day 35 years ago, the Seminoles showed the heart of a champion. FSU rallied from five runs down in the College World Series to beat Oklahoma State and stave off elimination, 6-5.

Setting the Stage

After wins over Indiana State and Miami to start its stay in Omaha, FSU arrived at Rosenblatt Stadium on June 7, 1986 facing elimination. The Seminoles had let a 5-0 lead slip away against Arizona the day prior and needed two wins to reach the national championship game.

Oklahoma State had started its stay in Omaha with a loss to Miami. The Cowboys collected wins over Indiana State and Loyola Marymount to stay alive.

Against the Cowboys, FSU found itself on the opposite end of the spectrum from the day prior. Instead of leading 5-0, the Seminoles were down five runs as they came to bat in the bottom of the second inning.

The Comeback

Oklahoma State opened up by putting up four runs in the first. Monty Fariss got the scoring started for the Cowboys with a solo home run before a pair of FSU errors led to three unearned runs. In the second inning, Robin Ventura singled home the fifth Oklahoma State run.

It wasn’t until the third inning that FSU got on the board. Jose Marzan brought Ed Fulton home on an RBI groundout. Paul Sorrento’s RBI single plated the second run for the Seminoles.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, FSU added two more runs on RBI singles from Steve Taddeo and Fulton. As the FSU bats started to heat up, so did the arms. Richie Lewis came in to pitch the fifth inning and wound up pitching the final five. Lewis yielded just one hit and two walks.

After scoring two runs in each of the third and fourth innings, FSU drew even in the fifth. Luis Alicea’s sacrifice fly drove in Sorrento to knot things at 5 apiece.

FSU took its first and only lead in the bottom of the eighth. Alicea and Bien Figueroa singled to start the inning. With runners on the corners and no one out, Eric Mangham’s sacrifice fly put the Seminoles ahead for good. Lewis struck out the side in the ninth to seal the comeback.

In Hindsight

Lewis’ stellar relief effort earned him his 14th win of the season. In the five innings, Lewis struck out eight. Sorrento and Fulton each had two hits for the Seminoles.

Fariss and Ventura each had two hits for Oklahoma State. Those were the only four hits of the day for the Cowboys.

FSU would beat Miami the next day to advance to the College World Series final. Unfortunately, the Seminoles would lose to Arizona for the national title.

Although FSU fell short of a title in Omaha, it showed the heart of a champion in a comeback win over Oklahoma State. That victory came on this day 35 years ago.

References

NoleFan.org

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.