June 7, 2010
NORWICH, Conn. – Tenth-ranked Florida State (45-17) defeated Oregon (40-24) 5-3 on Sunday evening inside Dodd Memorial Stadium to claim the NCAA Norwich Regional and advance to its third consecutive Super Regional and 10th in school history.
For the second day in a row, the Seminoles claimed a two-run victory over the Ducks to finish the Norwich Regional with a perfect 3-0 record. FSU also kept its undefeated record on Sunday’s in tact moving to 16-0 on the year including 7-0 on the road.
“This is gratifying,” said head coach Mike Martin. “To come on the road and beat a tough Oregon team two days in a row is not an easy thing to do. I have to give George Horton a lot of credit for doing what he has done at Oregon in just two years is simply amazing. But I am just so proud of our young men and look forward to continuing on with this club.”
“This is a big deal,” said Mike McGee on winning the regional on the road. “This is my first regional on the road and it was a totally different experience than being at home. To come out here and play as well as we did, in a different setting like the one we faced this weekend, shows a lot about the character of this team and how hard they are willing to play. This was just a major, major win.”
Norwich Regional MVP Sherman Johnson went 2-for-3 in the championship game driving in two of the five Seminole runs on Sunday. The sophomore third baseman reached base on his first three plate appearances registering a single in the first, a two-run home run in the third and a walk in the fourth. Johnson finished the regional hitting .417 with two home runs, a double, four RBI and five runs scored. He also came through with several key defensive plays all weekend long including two on Sunday night.
Holt went yard in the fourth for his 12th home run of the season. He finished the game with two runs scored, a pair of walks and an RBI.
“If you are looking for big hits tonight, certainly two big ones, the home run by Sherman and the home run by Tyler,” said Martin. “It was a great win for us; it was one that we were just scraping away. We don’t know what the future holds but we are going to keep working hard and see what happens.”
Daniel Bennett turned in his finest relief appearance of the season as the junior right hander blanked the Ducks over 4.1 innings, his longest outing of the season, allowing just one hit and one walk. He also registered a career-high striking out five Oregon batters. Bennett entered the game with one out in the fourth in relief of starter John Gast to pick up the win and run his record to 4-1 on the year.
“The past two outings from Daniel have been real impressive,” said Holt. “It honestly lifts the team to have guys come off the bench in relief, to throw strikes and get people out. He is a quiet guy but when he is called on, he gets the job down; hats off to him tonight.”
Gast had a solid start but was the victim of a fielding error in the fourth. The junior southpaw went 3.1 innings on Sunday allowing three runs, zero earned, on five hits as he walked two and struck out three in earning a no decision.
McGee wrapped things up for the Seminoles in the ninth to earn his 11th save of the season and second in as many days. After giving up a leadoff walk to Danny Pulfer, McGee registered back-to-back strikeouts and then got pinch hitter Mitch Karraker to ground out to short for the final out of the game.
With the win, FSU improved to 159-106 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, while moving to 19-10 on the road in the NCAA Regionals. The win was also the 10th straight for the Seminoles in regional play and fifth in a row over a George Horton led squad.
Florida State escaped an early jam in the top of the first as the first two Oregon batters reached as Gast hit KC Serna with a pitch and then issued a walk to Pulfer. After a sacrifice bunt by Jack Marder moved the runners 90 feet, Gast got Eddie Rodriguez looking on strikes and then Shawn Peterson to line out to Cardullo at short for the final out of the inning.
Johnson registered the first hit of the ball game dropping a single down the right field line with one out in the first. But Oregon starting pitcher Alex Keudell (5-6) recorded back-to-back fly outs by McGee and James Ramsey to keep the game knotted at zero.
After Gast retired the first two Duck batters to start the second, Steven Packard reached on an infield single to short. Jett Hart followed with just his second double of the season taking a Gast offering opposite field to right to put runners at second and third. But on the very next pitch, Gast got Serna to fly out to left to end the threat.
The Ducks loaded the bases in the top of the third but came away empty handed as Gast got J.J. Altobelli to ground into an inning ending double play. The inning started with Johnson making an outstanding diving stab on a one hopper down the third base line off the bat of Pulfer. The Seminole third baseman immediately got to his feet and threw a strike to Boyd for the first out of the inning. Oregon followed with back-to-back singles by Marder and Rodriguez before Gast hit Peterson on the back of the leg to load the bases. On the very next pitch, Altobelli hit a sharp one hopper to Cardullo, who made a great stop on the ball, tossed on to Devon Travis, who relayed over to first for the third out of the inning.
Florida State plated four runs in the bottom of the third to break the scoreless tie. After Holt drew a one out walk, Johnson took the first offering from Keudell off the scoreboard in right center for a two-run shot and his eighth home run of the season. McGee followed with a double to right center and then three straight two-out hits from Cardullo, Tapley and Boyd chased Keudell from the ball game. Cardullo laced an RBI double to the wall in center to score McGee. Tapley then registered an RBI single up the middle to score Cardullo from second for the fourth run of the inning. Keudell’s evening would come to a close after issuing a single up the middle to Boyd.
Christian Jones entered out of the pen and got Travis looking on strikes for the third out of the inning.
Keudell would be charged with four runs on six hits as he walked one and struck out two in 2.2 innings of work.
The Ducks responded with three runs in the top of the fourth taking advantage of two crucial Seminole errors. After Packard drew a one out walk from Gast, Hart reached first after Ramsey could not come up with the catch on a fly ball to right. A single to center by Serna loaded the bases for the Ducks, thus ending the evening for Gast.
Bennett came on and got Pulfer to hit a groundball to short on what could have been an inning ending double play, but the ball went under the glove of Cardullo allowing Packard and Hart to score for the first two Oregon runs of the game. After a strikeout to Marder, the Ducks put on a double steal. Pulfer broke for second but stopped three-quarters of the way to the bag getting in a run down and allowing Serna to score from third. The Seminoles would eventually get Pulfer out on the play to end the inning.
The Seminoles responded with a run in the bottom half of the inning as Holt unloaded on a solo blast off Jones to push the Florida State lead to 5-3. The Gainesville, Fla., native took a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left center for his 12th home run of the season.
FSU left two stranded in the seventh after Holt and McGee reached on a walk and hit-by-pitch, respectively, off Jones. After a strikeout of Ramsey, Oregon went to the bullpen and brought on Drew Gagnier with two outs. The junior right hander closed out the inning getting Cardullo to ground out to third.
The Ducks returned the favor by leaving a pair of runners aboard in the eighth. Altobelli reached on the fourth Seminole error of the game as Cardullo short hopped a throw over to first on a groundball hit by the Oregon third baseman. Bennett responded by registering back-to-back groundouts which advanced the runner to third. A walk to Curtis Raulinaitis ended the evening for Bennett.
Martin went to the bullpen and brought on Geoff Parker. On three pitches, Parker got Serna to groundout to second to end the inning but not before a nice defensive play by Travis got the Noles out of the jam. On a ball going up the middle, Travis fielded the ball and made a strong throw over to first to register the third out of the inning.
“That was an awesome play,” said McGee on the play made by Travis at second to end the inning. “To make a strong throw with a ball going up the middle and his momentum going in the opposite direction was just awesome. It was a tough play and to make that put out was huge.”
Florida State will return to Tallahassee on Monday and wait to see who they will face in the Super Regionals. The Seminoles will face either Louisville or Vanderbilt next weekend.
Norwich Regional All-Tournament Team
1B – Jayce Boyd, Florida State
2B – Pierce LePage, Connecticut
SS – KC Serna, Oregon
3B – Sherman Johnson, Florida State (MVP)
C – Rafael Lopez, Florida State
OF – Mike McGee, Florida State
OF – Steven Packard, Oregon
OF – Tyler Holt, Florida State
P – Sean Gilmartin, Florida State
P – Justin LaTempa, Oregon
DH – L.J. Mazzilli, Connecticut