June 1, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State’s James Ramsey delivered the two biggest hits of the game to lead No. 1 seeded Florida State past fourth-seeded UAB, 2-1, on Friday night at the NCAA Regional in Tallahassee at Dick Howser Stadium at Mike Martin Field.
For the third time this season, Ramsey accounted for all of FSU’s runs as he delivered an RBI single in the third inning and a run-scoring double in the fifth. Seminoles’ (44-15) reliever Gage Smith (4-0) earned the victory in relief after pitching 3.2 shutout innings while pitching himself out of several minor jams.
FSU closer Robert Benincasa picked up his 14th save of the season, including his eighth one-run save, after pitching a scoreless ninth. With one out, UAB’s (32-29) Ivan De Jesus made things interesting with a double down the left field line, and John Frost followed with a flyout to centerfield to advance De Jesus to third base. The Seminoles secured their 14th consecutive regional win after Benincasa forced a foul-out by Patrick Palmeiro to end the game.
UAB starter Michael Busby (5-5) took the loss despite a solid performance, allowing two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and four walks in eight innings. Busby threw a career-high 126 pitches in the loss. FSU starter Scott Sitz took a no decision after giving up one run in 4.1 innings while striking out eight, just one shy of his career high.
With the win, FSU will now face Samford in the winner’s bracket game on Saturday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Samford defeated Mississippi State earlier in the day by a 5-0 score, and MSU will now face UAB in an elimination game on Saturday at noon.
In the top of the second, UAB put the game’s first runner in scoring position when Harry Clark singled up the middle with two outs to put runners on first base and second base. However, Sitz got out of the small jam when he induced a lineout by Keith DePew to right field to keep the game scoreless. UAB created the same situation offensively in the third inning, but Palmeiro went down swinging chasing a 2-2 pitch to give Sitz his seventh strikeout of the game.
Ramsey came through in the bottom half of the third when he laced an 0-2 pitch through the right side to plate Sherman Johnson from second base, providing the first run of the game. With just one out in the inning and runners on first and second base, the Seminoles had an opportunity to do more damage but a groundball double play by Jayce Boyd kept the game close at a 1-0 margin. Ramsey’s RBI in the inning was his 50th of the season.
Another scoring chance was had for UAB in the top of the fourth inning, as Jeff Schalk led off with a single up the middle. After Ryan Ussery struck out looking, Clark advanced Schalk to second base on a groundout to Sitz. With two outs, DePew hit an infield single to second base that Devon Travis dove for and kept in the infield, preventing Schalk from rounding third base and crossing the plate. The defensive play was key as Sitz forced an inning-ending groundout from Tanner Bryant to keep the shutout intact.
A good fundamental piece of hitting was made by UAB’s John Frost in the top of the fifth, who came up with runners on second and third base and recorded an RBI groundout on a 3-0 offering to tie the game at 1-1. Another defensive gem was made by FSU’s Sherman Johnson at third base as Smith entered the mound, as he reached in the air and fielded a high chopper, then proceeded to throw out base runner De Jesus at home on the fielder’s choice for the second out. Schalk ended the frame on a groundout to second base.
For the second time today, the Johnson-Ramsey combination created another run for FSU in the fifth. Johnson led off the inning with a walk, and was driven in on Ramsey’s 11th double of the season as he drove a 1-2 pitch to the left center gap and enabled FSU to retake the lead at 2-1.
The Seminole infield was stellar once again in the sixth inning, as UAB had another strong start to the frame by putting runners on first and second base with no outs. Smith produced a big strikeout in relief by getting DePew swinging, then Bryant hit a ground ball up the middle that was fielded by shortstop Justin Gonzalez and scooped nicely by first baseman Jayce Boyd for an important twin killing.
Once again, FSU pitched itself out of trouble in the seventh inning as UAB loaded the bases on a throwing error by Johnson at third base to keep the inning alive. FSU’s Gonzalez then fielded a ground ball in the hole at shortstop off the bat of Ussery and stepped on second base to get out of the frame.
Friday night’s win was FSU’s 13th one-run victory of the season.