March 30, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Behind a dominant pitching performance from freshman Brandon Leibrandt, fourth-ranked Florida State (22-4, 9-1 ACC) snapped its two-game skid with a 5-2 victory over Virginia Tech (18-10, 2-8 ACC) Friday night on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
The Florida State bats also broke out for 13 hits on Friday as three Seminoles registered three hits each to claim their third straight victory over the Hokies and their 12th win in the last 15 games in the series.
Devon Travis, Jayce Boyd and Jose Brizuela all went 3-for-4 in the game one victory. Justin Gonzalez recorded two hits with a bunt single and a double, while James Ramsey and Sherman Johnson each picked up a hit. Ramsey and Boyd drove in a game-high two runs each and Travis scored twice.
“We did get some timely hits,” said head coach Mike Martin. “Jayce Boyd had two RBI and had some great at-bats. You also have to credit Sherman Johnson again for doing his job as a lead-off hitter, he was really impressive.”
“Keeping a good approach, the guys in front of me keep doing their job of getting on base,” said Boyd. “They make it pretty easy on me to just put the ball in play and get things going.”
Despite a 42-minute rain delay, Leibrandt (3-1) worked the longest outing of his career Friday night as the Alpharetta, Ga., native went 7.0 scoreless innings allowing just five hits and one walk while striking out four. Three of the five hits he allowed came in the first two innings, while he worked out of a bases loaded jam with no outs in the fourth.
“A quality start for Brandon Leibrandt,” added Martin. “That was important to us. It was a crucial inning for him to get out of that bases loaded no outs. He hit very well with his fastball and made a couple of very quality pitches to get himself out of that inning.”
“I felt like my mechanics were a lot better tonight,” said Leibrandt. “I was able to establish my fastball on both sides of the plate and that was huge for me tonight.”
Leibrandt was tested early as the Hokies put runners at the corners with one out in the first, but the freshman southpaw would keep Virginia Tech off the scoreboard as he recorded a pair of fly outs to retire the side.
The leadoff batter would reach on a fielding error to open the third, but Leibrandt retired the next three batters as the Hokies could not muster a run.
Virginia Tech loaded the bases in the fourth with no outs and Leibrandt responded with three straight outs without giving up a run. He sandwiched a fielder’s choice groundout back to the mound with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.
“I was just trying to bare down and limit the damage the best I could,” said Leibrandt. “I thought if I could limit them to just one run that would be a win for us, but luckily I was able to get two strikeouts and get a zero on the board.”
Leibrandt and the Seminoles would get all the run support they would need in the first and third innings as Florida State ran out to an early 3-0 lead.
“Brandon has done really well all season,” added Boyd. “Coming out as a freshman, he is throwing the ball really, really well. He is throwing strikes and getting people out. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Johnson led off the first with a single up the middle to extend his streak of reaching base safely to 26 straight games. He moved to second on a wild pitch by Joe Mantiply (3-2) and advanced to third on a sac-bunt by Travis. Johnson would score a batter later on a sac-fly to center by Ramsey to give the Noles the early 1-0 advantage.
The Seminole strung together three consecutive hits in the third to push their lead to 3-0. Travis doubled down the line in right and scored on the run scoring double to right center by Ramsey. Ramsey would score on Boyd’s RBI single up the middle.
Florida State made it 4-0 in the seventh on Boyd’s second run scoring single of the evening. Travis led off the inning with a single up the middle and moved into scoring position at second when Ramsey laid down a sacrifice bunt. Boyd followed with a single up the middle.
FSU’s fifth run of the evening came in the eighth as Brizuela reached on a bunt single, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on a two-out, RBI single to right by Travis.
Virginia Tech added an unearned run in the eighth and ninth innings to account for the scoring Friday night. The Hokies took advantage on a throwing error in the eighth to extend the inning paving the way for an RBI single to left by pinch hitter Brendon Hayden.
Gage Smith worked the eighth and gave up two hits while recording a strikeout.
A throwing error in the ninth which accounted for the Seminoles’ fourth error of the game, led to Virginia Tech’s second run of the night. With Robert Benincasa on the mound, pinch hitter Sean Keselica led off the top of the ninth with an infield single to second. After stealing second, Keselica would score on a throwing error at short. Benincasa would settle down and retire the next three batters that he faced on two strikeouts and a groundout to preserve the victory.
Florida State and Virginia Tech will return to the diamond for game two of the series on Saturday, March 31 at 6:00 p.m. The game will air live over the internet on ESPN3, while fans can listen to the game locally on 100.7 FM and over the internet at Seminoles.com. Live stats will be available via gametracker, while fans can receive updates on Twitter @FSU_Baseball.