June 8, 2012

Around the Super Regionals

Super Regional Scores & Capsules

Super Regional Notes


Florida State offense erupts to bury Appel, Stanford

By Andrew Krause



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After 33 years as head coach at Florida State, Mike Martin (right) was almost at a loss for words after his team tagged Stanford ace Mark Appel for seven runs after four innings.


“The only thing you can predict about baseball is the unpredictability,” Martin said.  “I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined what happened tonight could happen but it is truly why our sport is what it is.”


However, it was the Cardinal (41-17) bats which came out hot early, as Jake Stewart led off with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice from Danny Diekroeger. With the Seminole infield playing in, Stephen Piscotty stung a 1-2 pitch from Brandon Leibrandt through the hole between first and second base to drive in Stewart. After surrendering a single to Brian Ragira, Leibrandt was able to escape without further damage, getting Austin Wilson to ground into an inning-ending double play.


Leibrandt (8-2, 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) was also able to wiggle out of trouble again in the top of the third after Kenny Diekroeger led off the inning with a single. The Cardinal utilized their small ball style again, as Diekroeger (1 for 2) advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and stole third base, before Leibrandt induced a weak groundout to second and struck out Piscotty (1 for 2, BB) to end the frame.


Appel, a first-round draft pick, worked quickly and effectively in the first two innings, allowing only a single to James Ramsey in the bottom of the first. However, in the third Appel also had to work his way out of a jam after walking John Holland to lead off the inning and hitting Sherman Johnson with a wayward pitch two batters later. Like Leibrandt, Appel was able to get out of it without any damage, getting Devon Travis to lineout to right field and Ramsey to popup to center field.


While Appel (4 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 3 K) was able to escape in the third, he was much less fortunate in the fourth, as the Seminoles (47-15) struck for seven runs. Jayce Boyd led off with a single and advanced to third on a base hit through the right side by catcher Stephen McGee. Appel hit Justin Gonzalez to load the bases. The next batter, Josh Delph, hit a grounder that appeared to be a typical double-play ball, but shortstop Kenny Diekroeger couldn’t get a handle on it, allowing the tying run to score and all runners to advance. After the error, Appel completely lost his command for a spell, issuing back-to-back bases-loaded walks to the No. 8 and 9 hitters, John Holland and Jose Brizuela, as many of the 4,067 in attendance at Dick Howser Stadium burst into a frenzy when the Seminoles took the lead.


“I don’t know,” Appel said of his struggles in the fourth. “I just started throwing balls. I’m not someone to make excuses; I just didn’t get the job done. You are always going to have a few bad outings each year. You just wish they aren’t during the Super Regionals.”


However, the inning was far from over as Johnson (2 for 3, 4 R, RBI, 2 BB) and Travis (3 for 5, 3 R, 6 RBI) (right) delivered back-to-back RBI singles. Appel fired a wild pitch, allowing another run to score, and McGee (2 for 3, R, 3 RBI) capped off the scoring with a sacrifice fly to center field. When all was said and done the Seminoles had scored seven runs and Appel had thrown 48 of his 95 pitches in the fourth.


“Mark is a great pitcher and we happened to have some things go our way against him tonight and took advantage of a couple mistakes,” Martin said. “But our guys will compete no matter who is on the mound and Mark is certainly going to be an outstanding major league pitcher. Tonight just happened to be one of those nights that a lot went right for us.”


The Seminoles added four more runs in the bottom of the fifth against three different Cardinal pitchers. Garrett Hughes gave up a leadoff walk but got two quick pop-ups before giving up a single to Sherman Johnson. Stanford head man Mark Marquess elected to go to right-handed reliever David Schmidt to face right-handed hitting Devon Travis.  Travis was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and James Ramsey followed with a two-run single. Sam Lindquist came in to relive Schmidt, but walked three in a row (for two Seminole runs) before striking out Josh Delph to end the inning.


Florida State padded its lead in the bottom of the sixth, adding two more runs by way of a Travis two-run homer and a McGee RBI double.


Leibrandt managed to avoid the pitfalls that often come with sitting for a long period of time, as he did not allow a run after the first inning, and quickly retired the Cardinal in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings before giving way to reliever Hunter Scantling, who pitched a scoreless seventh.


“That’s probably one of the most difficult things on a pitcher,” said Leibrandt’s battery-mate, catcher Stephen McGee. “To sit there and watch your offense score that many runs, which is great, but at the same time you aren’t throwing that entire time. So to be able to go out there mentally and physically and stay calm and really work through the innings is really tough and it is very impressive to see from him.”


In the bottom of the seventh, Devon Travis hit his second home run of the night, a three-run shot to give the Seminoles a 17-1 advantage. 


“I don’t know what happened tonight,” said Travis “I don’t think I ever remember hitting two home runs in my life in a game, ever. Not even little league days. I can’t really explain it. I guess I got pretty decent pitches and put good swings on them. I was definitely pretty surprised they both went over.”


Brandon Johnson and Mack Waugh pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth inning respectively.


“Obviously, we didn’t give them much of a contest tonight,” Marquess said. “They did a great job. The one inning did us in. Mark has been so consistent for us for two years. He lost his command a little bit; hit a guy. It got away from us. We couldn’t throw enough strikes and they hit the ball. We got a good ole’ fashioned whoopin’ tonight. They’re a great team, and we really didn’t give ourselves a chance to stay in the game with them”


Stanford will try to regroup and stave off elimination while Florida State attempts to clinch a berth in the College World Series when the second game of the Super Regional kicks off Saturday evening at 6 p.m. ET. The Cardinal is expected to send Brent Mooneyham (7-5) to the hill, while the Seminoles are expected to counter with Mike Compton (11-2).


(photos by Ross Obley)