March 9, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Devon Travis played with one of the best leadoff hitters in Florida State baseball history last season, and is quickly proving he’s a pretty good visual learner.
As the successor to Tyler Holt in the leadoff spot this season for the Seminoles, Travis is off to a torrid start, serving as both the table-setter and a run producer.
Travis’ leadoff homer in the home first jump-started the Seminoles’ 9-3 win over Maine Wednesday afternoon. It was just the beginning for the sophomore from West Palm Beach, who drove in four runs in a 3-for-3 performance.
“When I got into the dugout, I was like, `Man, that’s pretty cool,'” Travis said. “I remember last year sitting at Duke and Tyler Holt led off the game with a home run. I was like, `Dang, that would be pretty cool if I could do it.’ It’s definitely a great feeling and a great way to get your ballclub going. It was a great day.”
It was a good day all around for the fifth-ranked Seminoles (12-1), who tuned up for Friday’s Atlantic Coast Conference opener against Boston College by belting out 11 hits and receiving solid pitching from starter Hunter Scantling (1-0) and the bullpen.
Scantling limited the road-weary Black Bears to two hits over five innings, struck out three and did not allow a walk in his first start of the season. Over nine innings in three appearances, Scantling is sporting a 0.00 ERA, yielding just three hits. He has seven strikeouts and no walks.
“Hunter is a guy who gets better each time he goes out there,” FSU coach Mike Martin said. “I am anxious to see how he pitches his next outing because he has certainly pitched well enough to deserve another opportunity.”
The Seminoles led 9-0 when Maine touched reliever Brandon Johnson for a pair of earned runs in the sixth, but successfully worked his way out of a potentially long inning without further damage.
Left-handed reliever Connor Nolan’s first career appearance for the Seminoles yielded a pair of strikeouts in the seventh. Peter Miller held the Black Bears scoreless in the eighth and David Trexler struck out the side in the ninth, sandwiched around a hit and an infield error which produced the game’s final run.
Collectively the quintet combined for nine strikeouts and issued just one walk, scattering nine hits.
There were no signs of malaise from the Seminoles against a mid-week opponent leading up to the ACC opener .
“It was definitely a day where a team could catch us off guard,” said Travis. [Assistant coach Mike Martin, Jr.] was out there stressing to us that it’s just like travel ball when you’re growing up – you’ve got to bring your own intensity. We came out and took care of business.”
Travis and senior Stuart Tapley made sure that the Seminoles were ready to go. Travis’ big day – he reached base four times in the first four innings – helped him seize control of the team batting lead (.417) among regular. Adding his team-leading eighth double – good for a pair of RBI in a five- run second – he also took over the team lead for slugging percentage (.708).
Tapley, who came into the two-game set with the Black Bears hitting.148, homered for the second consecutive day in Wednesday’s romp. He was 2-for-3 with two RBI, pushing his two-game total to 4-for-7 with five RBI against Maine, raising his average to .235.
“That is encouraging because Stuart is so strong that he can – with this approach – wait longer before he makes up his mind,” Martin said. “I know one thing, he has hit two balls – well three (including) a double down the line – that was a rocket. It is encouraging to see him performing like he is.”
FSU struck for five runs in the second to take the pitching-depleted Black Bears out of the game for good. Tapley doubled home a run a run and Taiwan Easterling picked up an infield RBI single. Travis doubled home a run and Mike McGee lifted a run scoring sacrifice fly.
Tapley’s solo homer in the third and an RBI single by Travis in a two-run fourth finished off the FSU scoring.
Junior left-hander Sean Gilmartin will try and improve to 4-0 on the year when the Seminoles entertain Boston College Friday (6 p.m.).