April 20, 2012

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CBI Live
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. 


FSU 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 inning.


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 night.”


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 Relations Office)