April 22, 2012

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CBI Live
Florida State Edges Miami in 10 to Sweep Series

By Andrew Krause



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With one out and runners on first and second in the bottom of the 10th, Sherman Johnson delivered a walk-off RBI single to help Florida State complete a weekend sweep over ACC rival Miami with an 8-7 victory. 


“That was a typical Florida State-Miami baseball game,” head coach Mike Martin (pictured) said after the contest had concluded. “Miami did such a great job of coming back from down four runs.”


The Seminoles (19-2, 33-7) jumped out to an early lead over the Hurricanes (12-9, 26-14) for the third consecutive game.  The first three FSU batters reached base, as Johnson (2 for 6, R, RBI) and Devon Travis singled and James Ramsey walked.  Stephen McGee was hit by a wayward Steven Ewing breaking ball, Justin Gonzalez delivered a bunt single, and John Holland drove in two with a double to cap off a four-run first inning.


Gonzalez, who had been having a stellar series, had to be removed from the game after the first inning was completed as he was injured running to first on his bunt single.


However, even without standout catcher Peter O’Brien, the Miami bats responded and the Hurricanes exploded for seven runs in the top of the fourth.  Stephen Perez led off the inning with a bunt single, Chantz Mack walked, Ronny Rodriguez delivered an RBI single, and Dale Carey followed with an RBI single of his own to knock out FSU starting pitcher Scott Sitz (3 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 0 K).  Sitz’s replacement, Hunter Scantling, walked Brad Fieger and gave up a grand slam to second baseman Michael Broad.  Broad’s grand slam gave Miami a 6-4 advantage, their first lead of the entire series.  A Tyler Palmer (1 for 5) double later in the inning gave the Hurricanes a 7-4 lead.


Miami starter Steven Ewing settled down after his rough first inning and allowed only one total base runner in the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings. 


However, FSU eventually caught up to Ewing (6.1 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) and the Seminoles were able to scratch out a couple of runs and cut into the three-run deficit in the bottom of the sixth when Holland (2 for 5, 3 RBI) hit his second RBI double of the game and pinch-hitter John Nogowski followed with an RBI single. 


Ewing returned to pitch in the seventh, but was pulled after Jayce Boyd delivered a game-tying RBI double.


While Florida State was chipping into the Miami lead, sophomore reliever Gage Smith was able to quell the Hurricane offense.  Smith worked a career-high 4.1 innings and allowed two hits while striking out four.


“That’s probably the best that I’ve thrown” Smith said. “Usually, I don’t go that long but…I just really wanted to come in and get groundballs because I know we have one of the best infield defenses in the country.”


“He was the key to the ball game,” Martin added.  “Gage Smith came in and settled everything down for us and gave us a chance.”


Miami’s A.J. Salcines also kept the Florida State offense at bay after replacing Ewing in the seventh.  Salcines worked 2.2 innings and allowed only one hit.  In the bottom of the ninth Salcines worked his way out of trouble, striking out Florida State’s Jose Brizuela with two outs and runners on first and second.


FSU closer Robert Benicasa worked the ninth and 10nth innings and also had to wiggle his way out of trouble, as he allowed two hits in the 10th.


“We knew we were on a time limit so we went and got Benicasa before usual and he really pitched beautifully,” Martin said.


In the bottom of the 10th, with the conference-imposed curfew deadline close approaching, Florida State was able find a way to secure a series sweep. Freshman infielder Giovany Alfonzo, Justin Gonzalez’s replacement at shortstop, led off the inning with his first career hit and stole second base.


“He played shortstop very well for us today,” Martin said of Alfonzo. “I’m so happy for him.”


After Holland struck out looking and Seth Miller was hit on a 3-2 pitch, Johnson singled through the right side on a 2-1 pitch from Miami’s E.J. Encinosa (2-3, 0.1 IP, 2 H 1 ER, 1 K) to bring Alfonzo around for the winning run.


Carey (3 for 4, 2 2B, RBI, R), Broad (2 for 5, 4 RBI, R) and Rodriguez (2 for 5, RBI, R) led the way for a Hurricane offense that pounded out 11 hits.


“That’s awesome for Sherman” Boyd said. “He’s a guy that has played the ‘Canes a couple of times and to come through like that has got to feel so good.”


(photo by Jimmy Jones)