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Around the Bases
Gonzalez and Johnson
power Florida State past Miami
By Andrew Krause
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Senior third baseman
Sherman Johnson went 3 for 5 with two RBI and shortstop Justin
Gonzalez hit two home runs as top-ranked Florida State cruised
to an 11-2 victory over in-state rival No. 15 Miami in Game 1 of
the weekend series between the ACC universities.
Johnson helped to set the tone early, as he
delivered the first of his three doubles on the second pitch of
the game off of Miami’s LHP Eric Erickson.
head coach Mike Martin (right) said of his team’s offensive
approach: “He just doesn’t walk people so there is no sense in
thinking that you’re going to get into the count with him…I mean
he had only walked five people in 48 innings and our guys just
went up there and were aggressive.”
FSU’s aggressive approach
paid off, as the Seminoles (17-2, 31-7) quickly exploded for two
hits and a sacrifice fly to take a 1-0 lead after the first
Miami responded to tie the game 1-1 in the top of
the third as right fielder Tyler Palmer (1 for 4) ripped a
double down the left field line and later scored on a sharply
hit sacrifice fly to right field by Chantz Mack (0-1, 2 BB).
However, Johnson and other Seminole hitters
continued to jump on Erickson’s fastball early in the count, and
the Seminoles quickly regained the lead after Johnson led off
the third with a double and scored on a single by Devon Travis.
In the bottom of the fourth Gonzalez’s first home
run of the night helped to put FSU ahead 3-1, and one inning
later the Seminoles truly took control of the game, as RBI hits
from first basemen Jayce Boyd (1 for 2, 2 R, BB), catcher
Stephen McGee (1 for 5) and left fielder Jose Brizuela (1 for 3)
put them ahead 6-1.
“Anytime a team like that answers, it is always
big to answer right back,” Johnson said. “I think we did a good
job of that tonight…I think we did a good job of getting ahead
and staying ahead.”
The big fifth inning helped to chase Erickson (5
IP, 9 H, 6 ER, BB, 5 K), who has been one of the most consistent
starters in the ACC this season.
“Eric Erickson is undoubtedly one of the top
pitchers in the game of college baseball,” Martin said. “He’s
poised; he has three pitches and can throw any of them for
strikes…He’s the real deal. Tonight just happened to be our
Meanwhile, FSU freshman starter Brandon Leibrandt
had settled down a bit and battled through command issues to
limit the Hurricanes (12-7, 26-12) to just two hits. “He
battled--he showed a lot of composure,” Martin reflected. “He
didn’t have his best stuff and he struggled with the changeup.
He didn’t feel sorry for himself because a couple of his pitches
weren’t exactly working, but he got the job done.” Leibrandt (5
IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) moved to 4-1 with the victory tonight.
In the bottom of the seventh, Gonzalez hit a
two-run homer and Johnson added a two-run double, as the
Seminoles added five more to take a commanding 11-1 lead.
While Martin was pleased with his squad’s
performance tonight, he remained wary of what lies ahead in this
fiercely competitive rivalry. “We’re very, very pleased but we
know that tomorrow is going to be a battle.”
Similarly, Gonzalez, a Miami-native added, “We
understand that we have to come back out tomorrow and play
another game…that’s a very good ball club and we’ve got to put
this one aside.”
The two sides square off again Saturday at 12
p.m. (ESPN3.com) and Sunday at 12 p.m. (Comcast/CSS).
(photo courtesy of FSU Media