June 11, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State is going back to Omaha!!! The Seminoles (48-15) ran out to an early 6-0 lead and never looked back in en route to an 18-7 victory over Stanford (41-18) Sunday night on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
The Seminoles completed the sweep of the Cardinal in the best-of-three game format of 2012 Tallahassee Super Regional to advance to the College World Series for the 21st time in school history. FSU outscored Stanford 35-8 in the series sweeping the first two games of a Super Regional for just the second time in school history and the first since 1999.
“I’m excited. I’m elated…I’m a happy camper because this group deserves what they got,” said head coach Mike Martin on the Seminoles returning to the College World Series. “They worked hard all year long. That was a great win and I am just so proud to be a part of it.
“It’s a year that we’re not through but at the same time we are going to enjoy this for 24 hours.”
Florida State connected on three home runs in the game two victory including a two-run shot by Jayce Boyd in the top of the first to begin the scoring spree and capped off by a Seth Miller grand slam in FSU’s eight-run eighth inning. Sherman Johnson was responsible for the other home run Sunday night as he left the yard with a three-run shot in the second.
“The seventh inning got a little interesting but the eighth inning, for us, was the difference,” added Martin. “The way we kept our poise, got back in and had a big inning, of course highlighted by Seth (Miller’s) home run.”
Johnson finished the game 3-for-6 with a season-high five RBI and two runs scored. The senior third baseman recorded two singles to go along with his fourth home run of the season. With Stanford narrowing the gap to four, Johnson came through with a big two-out, two run single to push FSU’s lead back to six.
Josh Delph tied a career-high with three hits as the freshman right fielder went 3-for-3 with a double, two singles, two runs scored and an RBI. He was also hit by a pitch and laid down a sac-bunt as he reached base on four of his five plate appearances.
Miller’s grand slam in the eighth marked his third home run of the season, all grand slams, tying the school record set on four previous occasions. Miller joins the likes of J.D. Drew (1997), Jeremy Morris (1997), Dennis Guinn (2006) and Buster Posey (2008), who have all hit three grand slams in a single-season.
“It’s just the way baseball works out,” said Miller. “It’s like (coach Martin) said, it’s a crazy game. I like situations like that where you can put a team ahead. That happened to be a grand slam for me. If that’s the way it works, I’ll take them all day long.”
Ten of the 11 Seminoles that saw an at-bat on Sunday scored a run, while Gonzalez and McGee each scored a season-high three runs.
Gage Smith earned the win in relief to improve to 5-0 on the year. Smith worked 2.1 innings allowing four runs, three earned, on four hits as he walked two.
FSU starter Mike Compton did not factor into the decision after allowing just two runs on 11 hits in 4.0 plus innings of work. The freshman right hander struck out three and did not walk batter on Sunday.
Florida State jumped out to the early lead in the first thanks in part to Boyd’s sixth career post-season home run. After James Ramsey drew a two-out walk, Boyd worked the count full against Stanford starter Brett Mooneyham (7-6) and then lofted the next pitch over the screen in right center for his fourth home run of the season to give FSU a 2-0 lead.
The Cardinal threatened in the bottom of the inning with singles by Jake Stewart and Stephen Piscotty, but Compton worked out of the jam getting Brian Ragira swinging on strikes and Austin Wilson to ground into a fielder’s choice putout at second to keep Stanford off the scoreboard in the first.
The Seminoles added to their lead in the second with four more runs to take a 6-0 lead. The first three batters to the plate for Florida State reached as Gonzalez lead off the inning with a walk. Delph followed with a base hit and Spradling connected on a single to center to score Gonzalez from second. That would be the last batter Mooneyham would face as the junior southpaw would leave after facing just eight batters in 1.0 plus innings of work.
A.J. Vanegas came out of the bullpen and was greeted rudely by Johnson just two batters in as the senior third baseman took a 1-0 pitch over the screen in right for a three-run home run. It marked his fourth home run of the season, second of the 2012 postseason and sixth career postseason round tripper.
Stanford cut into the Seminole lead with a run in the third on an RBI infield single by Wilson. The Cardinal put four straight base runners on off Compton with four consecutive singles including a base hit back up the middle by Wilson that caromed off the leg of the freshman right hander. Compton couldn’t recover in time to throw out Wilson as Danny Diekroeger scored on the play for the first Cardinal run of the evening. The damage could have been more for Stanford, but Compton got Alex Blandino to ground into an inning ending double play, the first of three hit into by the Cardinal on Sunday.
The Cardinal put runners at the corners with just one out in the fourth but Compton made a big pitch to Stewart to induce a groundball double play to end the threat and keep FSU’s five-run lead in tact at 6-1.
Stanford continued to cut into the lead in the fifth as Danny Diekroeger singled and scored on a fielder’s choice groundball off the bat of Ragira. Ragira sent a groundball to Gonzalez, who bobbled the back hand and threw widely over to second in an attempt to get the force out. Diekroeger scored on the play ending the night for Compton.
Smith entered the game for Florida State and got a groundout to second, but then issued a walk to Blandino to load the bases. But the Seminoles got Smith to ground into a much needed double play, the third of the game, to retire the side and maintain FSU’s lead at 6-2.
Florida State pushed its lead back to six in the sixth courtesy of a two-out, two-run single by Johnson. With the bases loaded following a walk to McGee, single by Gonzalez and an intentional walk to John Holland, Johnson worked the count to 2-2 off Vanegas and laced a single through the right side of the infield to score two and give FSU an 8-2 lead.
Travis and Boyd combined to make a spectacular defensive play in the sixth to save run. Tyler Gaffney led off the inning with an infield single and moved to second when Johnson made a great backhanded stop on a groundball off the bat of Stewart and then made a strong throw over to first to get the speedy lead-off batter. Gaffney advanced 90 feet when he stole third but was stranded on the base paths on a groundout by Diekroeger. The Cardinal second baseman hit a chopper that Travis had to charge in on and make a quick throw to first that Boyd scooped out of the dirt to record the final out of the inning.
The Seminoles added to their lead in the seventh with two more runs to make the score 10-2. Ramsey led off the inning with a walk ending the evening for Vanegas. After a stolen base and an errant throw by Cardinal catcher Eric Smith put Ramsey at third, McGee ripped an RBI single to left off Dean McArdle to plate Ramsey for the first run of the inning. The sophomore catcher would score all the way from first two batters later on a two-out double to left center by Delph.
Stanford responded with four runs in the bottom of the seventh to draw within four at 10-6. Piscotty leadoff the inning with a double and after Smith retired Ragira on a groundout back to the mound, five straight Cardinal batters reached on three hits, a walk and a fielding error. Wilson connected on an RBI double down the line in left and scored on Blandino’s RBI single to right center. A fielding error at short and a walk loaded the bases for the Cardinal which led to a Florida State pitching change.
Weaver entered and gave up an infield single to Kenny Diekroeger which brought home Blandino for the third run of the inning. Weaver responded by getting Stewart looking on strikes but then issued a walk to Danny Diekroeger to bring home Smith. Scantling became the third pitcher of the inning and got the Seminoles out of the jam as Piscotty hit a hard groundball to third that Johnson gloved and stepped on the bag at third for the force out to retire the side.
Florida State responded with eight runs in the top of the eighth highlighted by Miller’s grand slam to take a commanding 18-6 lead. McGee drove in the first run of the inning drawing a walk with the bases loaded. Gonzalez brought home two with a two-run single through the left side. McGee plated the third run when Delph laid down a bunt single and scored on Blandino’s errant throw from third. Miller wiped the bases clean two batters later taking the first pitch he saw out of the park to right center for his third home run of the season.
Benincasa worked the ninth and closed out the game with three strikeouts as the Seminoles advanced to the College World Series for the third time in the last five years.
“You got so many things running through your head when that happens,” said Travis on the final out being recorded. “The crowd the entire game, they were acting like they were playing. It was incredible. To hear the crowd chanting Omaha…that is something my freshman year I didn’t hear. This is a feeling that can’t get old, that’s for sure.”
Florida State will open the CWS against Arizona, but the dates and times for that first game have yet to be released by the NCAA. Stay tuned to Seminoles.com for further updates on when those game times and dates will be announced.