June 2, 2012

CBI Live: #2 Mississippi State 8, #4 UAB 1

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Seminole stars shine bright as FSU shuts down Samford

By Andrew Krause



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Game Four of the Tallahassee Regional started off with a bang — literally.


Senior third baseman Sherman Johnson led things off with a solo homer on the second pitch of the game to give the Florida State an early 1-0 lead on its way to an 8-1 win over Samford.


“I left one a little bit over the plate,” Samford starting pitcher Josh Martin said. “He made me pay for it.”


The Bulldogs (40-22) threatened in the bottom half of the first, as Brandon Miller, and his NCAA-leading 23 home runs, came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded after Brad Stone and Saxon Butler delivered back-to-back one-out singles and Phillip Ervin was hit by a pitch.  However, Seminole freshman Brandon Leibrandt was able to strike out Miller and get the dangerous C.K. Irby to line out softly to second base.


“He was commanding both the fastball and the changeup really well,” Miller said. “He had command of all of his pitches which was a really good thing for him.”


“I just tried to bear down the best I could,” Leibrandt said. “I made a couple key pitches and luckily got the strikeout and then the lineout. To get out of that was huge for momentum.”


After the first inning both pitchers really settled in and after allowing the leadoff homer to Johnson, Martin held Florida State (45-15) hitless until the fourth inning when James Ramsey singled. 


Leibrandt was also dialed in and did not give up a hit until Ervin (1 for 2, HBP) singled in the bottom of the fourth.  Even more impressively, after Ervin’s single, Leibrandt recorded sixteen consecutive outs.


“He threw phenomenal,” Samford coach Casey Dunn said. “I thought he got us really out of sync and out of rhythm early on and really did a great job of pitching both sides of the plate. Obviously, that was the story of the night.”


While Leibrandt was exceptional, the Florida State offense stole the show in the sixth and seventh innings. Jose Brizuela led off the top of the sixth with a double off the fence in right center field. Johnson followed with an infield single. Johnson (2 for 4, 3 R, RBI, BB) advanced to second on a wild pitch and after Devon Travis grounded out to shortstop, Ramsey (2 for 3, 4 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB) was walked intentionally to set up a bases-loaded double play opportunity against the right-handed hitting Jayce Boyd (right). However, the move backfired as the veteran first basemen drove a Martin offering into right field, bringing home Brizuela (1 for 3) and Johnson.


“That’s what you come here to do,” said Boyd (2 for 5, 2 RBI). “You get put in those crunch-time situations and you’ve got to perform. I’m glad I got the opportunity and I’m glad that I came through.”


Stephen McGee followed with a RBI single that was just out of the reach of Bulldog second baseman Zeth Stone, who was playing in, to make it 4-0 after six innings.


The Seminoles struck again one inning later as John Holland doubled while Johnson and Travis worked two-out walks. With the bases loaded and Ramsey looming, Dunn pulled Martin (6.2 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 5 K) and called upon left-hander Joseph Burns. After swinging through the first pitch, Ramsey blasted an 0-1 offering over the right field fence to give Florida State a comfortable 8-0 lead.


“You can tell by looking at the replay that he really dove in looking for something away, and I thought that he did a good job of hunting the pitch,” Dunn said. “The ball was down it looked like, so I think it was more a guy taking a really good approach and beating us than a mistake on the pitch.”


“It was a slider. It was probably pretty close to the first pitch,” Ramsey said. “He threw a slider first pitch off the plate, slider second pitch off the plate. I just happened to get it.”


Leibrandt retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings before giving way to reliever Hunter Scantling for the ninth.


“He was at 114 pitches—the most he had thrown all year,” Martin said of his decision to take out Leibrandt. “He just pitched so beautifully. I wanted him to finish, but not at the expense of overusing him”


The Bulldogs added a run against Scantling (1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 K) in the ninth to avoid being shut out, but they still finished the game with twelve strikeouts.


“For us to strike out 12 times in a game is humbling,” Dunn said. “That hasn’t happened a lot. We don’t strike out a lot. We had 12 strikeouts and no walks. That’s not like us. So we have to be able to flush this quick and be ready for tomorrow…Hopefully tomorrow we can come out and start a little better.”


Samford will play Mississippi State in an elimination game at 12 p.m. on Sunday. Florida State will play the winner of that contest at 6 p.m.


(Martin photo by Mike Olivella, Boyd photo by Ross Obley)