June 13, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State is going back! For the 20th time in school history, the Seminoles are headed to Omaha. Twelfth-ranked Florida State (47-18) secured a spot in the College World Series with a 7-6 victory over No. 17 Vanderbilt (46-20) Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of 4,225 on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
The Seminoles led throughout but had to hold off a relentless Commodore squad that scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth and had the tying run at first. But Mike McGee slammed the door shut striking out Joe Loftus for the final out of the game.
“I am very appreciative of the class that Vanderbilt University showed; that is an outstanding baseball team that really showed resolve, character all weekend,” said head coach Mike Martin. “It’s very commendable and I can see why everybody is so please with Tim Corbin and the job he has done at Vanderbilt.”
Sherman Johnson provided the cushion the Seminoles needed as the sophomore third base hit a two-out bases clearing double in the top of the eighth to give FSU a four-run lead.
“The first pitch was a change up and I swung through it,” said Johnson. “It was a good pitch. The second pitch was a slider. Kind of battled back and he threw a fastball away and he came back with a change-up. The first time I didn’t really see it but the second time I saw it. And I hit it.”
The Noles kept the pressure on Vanderbilt reliever Richie Goodenow following a 58 minute lightning delay and with Jayce Boyd on at second after coming through with a double to left center before play was halted. On his first offering, Goodenow hit Rafael Lopez in the back.
Vanderbilt then went to the bullpen and brought on Chase Reid. The junior right hander retired the first two batters that he faced as Devon Travis advanced the runners on a sac-bunt, while Ohmed Danesh struck out swinging. An intentional walk to Tyler Holt loaded the bases for Johnson who came through with the big two-out hit. On a 2-2 offering from Reid, Johnson connected on his first hit of the game lacing a double to the gap in right center clearing the base and giving FSU a 7-3 lead.
McGee retired the side in order in the bottom of the eighth, while the Seminoles went in order in the ninth.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Commodores got things started as pinch hitter Riley Reynolds drew a leadoff walk. Brian Harris then followed with a single up the middle before McGee registered the first out of the ninth getting Anthony Gomez to strike out swinging. Aaron Westlake stepped in and closed the gap to 7-4 as he registered an RBI double down the line in right. McGee would once again settle in and got Jason Esposito swinging on three pitches for out number two. Designated hitter Curt Casali brought the Commodores within one of the lead as he drove in Harris and Westlake on a two-out single to right. But McGee would keep the lead in tact as he got Loftus swinging on strikes to end the game.
“I don’t even know what I was thinking; I tried to refocus,” said McGee. “I knew if I made my pitches I would be okay and I had one more out to get.”
McGee would finish the game working 2.1 innings, his longest stint as a reliever, to earn his 12th save of the season. The junior right hander entered the ball game with two outs and two runners on in the seventh. Despite hitting the first batter that he faced, McGee would get Casali swinging on strikes for the first of five strikeouts on the afternoon.
Sean Gilmartin (9-7) came out of the bullpen for the second time this year to pick up the win. Gilmartin went 3.1 innings allowing two runs on five hits as he struck out one and did not walk a batter.
FSU starter Geoff Parker gave the Seminoles a good outing going 3.1 innings allowing a run on two hits as he walked two and struck out four in earning the no decision.
Johnson was the big RBI guy for the Seminoles on Sunday as he finished with a game-high four.
Tyler Holt was 2-for-2 with a run scored and two RBI as he reached base on all five plate appearances drawing walks in each of his last three at-bats.
Boyd continued his torrid hitting at the plate recording his third, three-hit game of the postseason finishing the afternoon 3-for-4 with a double and a pair of singles. The freshman first baseman hit .545 during Regional & Super Regional play recording 12 hits with two doubles, two home runs, five runs scored and four RBI. He was also perfect from the field in 65 chances.
Travis tied a career-high with two hits as he registered doubles in his first two at-bats of the afternoon.
“To these men up here, you’ve got one guy (Sean Gilmartin) that came here from California wanting this opportunity; the guy beside him (Tyler Holt) had been once and suffered disappointment last year and was a huge leader on our team. What do you say about Michael (McGee) and the job he’s done and we kind of extended him today and he got out there and got it done. Then to see these two young men (Sherman Johnson and Jayce Boyd) – one didn’t even play much last year (Johnson) I think he pinch ran in one of the Super Regional games that we played yet he came up today with one of the biggest hits of the year when you are clinging to a one run led and you are extending your closer longer than you have and Boyd who hit the ball hard all day long and has really played a great first base. These young men – some will be future leaders and some are leaders already,” said Martin.
“It was a great weekend for all of us,” added Martin.
With the win, the Seminoles kept their perfect record on Sunday’s in tact moving to 17-0 on the year including 10-0 at home.
Florida State wasted very little time in getting runners on base in game three as Holt took the first pitch from Vanderbilt starter Jack Armstrong (7-4) up the middle for a leadoff base hit. McGee was then hit by a pitch on a 3-2 count to put runners at first and second with one out. But on the very next pitch, Armstrong got out of the inning as he forced James Ramsey into an inning ending double play.
Parker issued a one out walk to Gomez in the bottom half of the inning, but it would not faze the junior right hander as he got Westlake to ground into an inning ending double play.
The Seminoles broke through first on Sunday plating four runs in the top of the second to stake to a 4-0 lead. Stephen Cardullo got things going taking the first pitch from Armstrong out of the park to left center for his 10th home run of the season and second of the NCAA Tournament. Following a strikeout of Boyd, the next three Seminole batters reached to load the base and chase Armstrong from the game. Rafael Lopez singled to right, Travis followed with a double inside the bag at third and then Danesh drew a walk ending the afternoon for the Commodore starter.
Vanderbilt went to the pen and brought on Drew Hayes. Holt greeted the senior right hander with a two-run double to the gap in right center plating Lopez and Travis for a 3-0 lead. Johnson drove in Danesh for the fourth run of the inning on an RBI groundout to first.
A single by Mike Yastrzemski to begin the bottom of the third went to no avail as Parker registered back-to-back fly outs and then got Brian Harris swinging on strikes for the third out of the inning.
Florida State missed a golden opportunity to add to its lead leaving the bases loaded in the top of the fourth. Travis led off the inning ripping a double off the wall in left, while Holt and McGee each drew a walk. With two-outs, Hayes got out of the jam getting Ramsey to fly to center.
The Commodores drew within three of the Seminole lead plating a run in the fourth. After Parker issued a hit-by-pitch and a walk to the first two batters that he faced, Esposito registered an RBI single on a well executed hit and run. Two batters later Parker loaded the bases as he hit Loftus on the hands. With the bases loaded, Martin went to the bullpen and brought on Gilmartin for his second relief appearance of the season.
Gilmartin left the bases loaded as he got Mike Yastrzemski swinging on strikes and Andrew Giobbi to ground out to third to maintain FSU’s 4-1 lead.
Connor Harrell led off the bottom of the fifth for the Commodores with a single to left center but was quickly eliminated from the base paths as Gilmartin got Harris to ground into a double play. Gomez popped up to second for the third out as Gilmartin faced the minimum in the fifth.
Vanderbilt dwindled the Florida State lead to one scoring two in the bottom of the seventh off Gilmartin. The first two Vandy batters to the plate reached as Yastrzemski and Giobbi registered back-to-back singles. Three pitches later Harrell sent a line drive to left field that Danesh fielded and threw on to Cardullo at second who completed the double play.
But Gilmartin could not get out of the jam as he hit Harris with a pitch and then gave up back-to-back RBI hits to Gomez and Westlake. Gomez singled through the left side to drive in Giobbi and then Westlake drilled a 2-2 pitch from Gilmartin off the screen in right to cut the Seminole lead to 4-3.
Martin went to the bullpen for the second time on the afternoon and brought on McGee. After getting ahead in the count to Esposito, the junior right hander hit the Commodore third baseman with an inside fastball to load the bases. But McGee would leave the runners stranded as he got Casali swinging on strikes for the third out of the inning.
Florida State will return to the field for practice on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for the College World Series. The Seminoles will open the CWS against TCU, who defeated Texas 4-1 on Sunday to take the best-of-three game series 2-1.