April 24, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Answering early and rallying late, 10th-ranked Florida State finished off a three-game sweep of Duke Sunday at Dick Howser Stadium with a 13-9 victory.
The Seminoles (31-10, 14-7 ACC) chipped away at an 8-4 deficit, then raced past the Blue Devils with a six-run seventh inning. It was FSU’s seventh consecutive win – its longest string of victories this season- and 21st in a row at home against Duke, in a streak that dates to 1994.
Jayce Boyd (3-for-4) drove in a game-high four runs and Sherman Johnson added three RBI to the cause with a bases-clearing double in seventh, which extended his hitting streak to 12 games. James Ramsey (3-for-4), Mike McGee (2-for-4) and Parker Brunelle (2-for-4) made significant contributions to the Seminoles’ 13-hit attack.
Ramsey extended his ACC-leading hitting streak to 19 games, but was far more excited about the outcome.
“That seven [game win streak] we’ve got going is the only one I’m concerned about,” Ramsey said. “I just try to go out there every day and help this team win in any capacity I can.
“It’s easy to hit when you’re hitting between Mike and Jayce.”
Offense aside, it was the pitching of reliever Mack Waugh who gave the Seminoles a chance after Duke opened up an 8-4 lead and chased first-time weekend starter David Trexler in the second inning. The junior right-hander limited the Blue Devils to three hits in 5.1 shutout innings, struck out five and issued one walk.
“I was just trying to get us back in the dugout and keep us in the ballgame,” said Waugh (2-1), who bounced back after a pair of rough outings against Virginia Tech and Florida Gulf Coast. “It was very big for me, especially with my confidence. I was just trying to get back out there and pitch the way I did all year. I feel like I did that today.”
“No doubt that [Waugh] and Boomer [Busch] were the secrets, when you can hold a team down and give your team a chance to get back in it,” said FSU coach Mike Martin. “Waugh goes in and goes 5 1/3 (innings) and gives them nothing. That’s pretty doggone good. Boomer did a good job of holding them there and, of course, Daniel comes in and gets his sixth save.”
Bennett coaxed a grounder to short for the final out and his team-leading sixth save.
Duke starter Robert Huber settled down after the first, when the Seminoles erased a 2-0 deficit with four runs, courtesy consecutive run-scoring doubles from Ramsey, Boyd and Brunelle. The `Noles managed just one hit over the next three innings, but began their comeback with a single run in the fifth on Boyd’s sacrifice fly, which would also be Huber’s final inning.
For the second consecutive game the Seminoles exploited Duke’s bullpen. Devon Travis’ RBI single in the sixth off reliever Chase Bebout (2-2) cut the Blue Devils’ lead to 8-6.
Things got much worse for Bebout in the seventh when McGee, Ramsey and Boyd singled on his first three pitches. Boyd’s single pulled the `Noles within one before Brunelle fisted an opposite field single to shallow left to tie the game.
Freshman Sean O’Brien, who made his first career start as the designated hitter, unlocked the tie with a run-scoring sacrifice fly to center for a 9-8 FSU lead. Erif Pfisterer replaced Bebout and got a quick out before Duke third baseman Jordan Betts booted pinch-hitter Stuart Tapley’s grounder. Travis walked to load the bases for Johnson, who lined a three-run double to center for a 12-8 lead.
“A string of hits like that was great to see,” said Johnson.
“The guys who hit in the middle of the order today had a lot of good at-bats and drove in a lot of runs,” Martin added.
With the victory, the Seminoles secured their first series sweep of an ACC opponent since taking three from Boston College on the opening weekend of league play. With Clemson’s Saturday loss to Wake Forest, FSU was able to push its Atlantic Division lead to three games.
“It’s been a while,” Johnson said. “[A sweep] is very important, especially at this point in the season. … All of these from here on out are important for us and what we’re trying to accomplish as a team.”
With nine ACC games remaining, the Seminoles get a reprieve from mid-week games this week for final exams, but return to the diamond on Friday at red-hot Miami. FSU’s long-time rivals have won 13 of 15 games.