May 31, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Fifth-ranked Florida State (43-17) saw its season come to an end Saturday afternoon as the Seminoles fell to Alabama (35-23) 6-5 in an elimination game of the 2014 Tallahassee Regional on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
The Seminoles refused to go down without a fight putting together a ninth inning rally but in the end came up a run short as Florida State dropped the first two games of an NCAA regional for the first time since 1984 when FSU fell to Stetson and East Carolina.
“(We) Kind of put a little excitement there in the ninth inning; quite a battle,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “I’m proud of our ball club. One of those things that best describes baseball. It’s never over until you get the 27th out and our guys battled. Unfortunately, we came up a little short at the end.”
On Saturday, Florida State ran into another crafty left hander, this time in the form of Justin Kamplain, who went 8.0 strong to keep the Crimson Tide’s season alive.
Kamplain (7-3) kept the Seminole bats at-bay allowing just five hits and not more than one hit in any inning he worked. The lone run he allowed came in FSU’s five-run ninth inning as the junior southpaw finished the game with four walks and three strikeouts in tossing 125 pitches.
“The last two games, those two guys (pitchers) were absolutely phenomenal; they didn’t make many mistakes,” said John Nogowski on the performance of the two starting pitchers they faced this weekend. “I don’t know what else we could have done. I thought we put some good at-bats together, and that’s baseball. We could have gone up there and scored five in the first inning of the first game. It’s just one of those things.”
Trailing 6-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Seminoles looked for another magical rally as they scored five times and had the tying run at third with two outs. But Thomas Burrows got pinch hitter Gage West to fly out to left center for the final out of the game to earn his 11th save of the season.
John Nogowski began the bottom of the ninth with a single to right center off Kamplain marking the end of the afternoon for the Alabama starter. Jon Keller came on and hit Jose Brizuela, walked Ben DeLuzio and then hit John Sansone to bring home pinch runner Nick Graganella for the first Seminole run of the game and of the tournament.
Alabama went to the bullpen for the second time in the inning and brought on Burrows. The Tide closer issued back-to-back, run scoring walks to Justin Gonzalez and Ladson Montgomery as the Seminoles inched closer at 6-3.
After a strikeout and fly out, DJ Stewart kept the inning alive with a two-run single to center to cut the deficit to 6-5. Peter Miller, who pinch ran for Montgomery, went into third and represented the tying run. West stepped in and put a good swing on an outside fastball from Burrows but Georgie Salem was there to haul in the fly ball in left center for the final out of the game.
“It hurts all of us that we came up short but it doesn’t take away from the fact that I thank the team for a great season, one that I will always remember because of the way they fought through adversity,” added Martin. “Losing (Bryant) Holtmann and (Brandon) Leibrandt for long periods of time, (Justin) Gonzalez getting sick, DJ (Stewart) getting sick and going through a four-game suspension, and yet they still turned it around and wanted a vision. It’s just very gratifying for me as a coach to be part of it.”
Luke Weaver suffered the loss as the junior right hander fell to 8-4 on the year. Weaver gave up three runs, one earned, on five hits as he walked one and struck out four.
Alabama struck first on Saturday courtesy of a solo home run off the bat of Mikey White. The sophomore shortstop took the first pitch from Weaver to start the third out of the park to left to give the Crimson Tide an early 1-0 lead.
A two-out fielding error in the fifth led to two unearned runs for the Crimson Tide as Alabama extended its lead to 3-0. Wade Wass reached on the fielding error at third which scored White from second. Wass would score a batter later on Austen Smith’s double to the gap in right center.
Alabama pushed across three more runs in the seventh to take a 6-0 lead. Ben Moore drove in White with an RBI single to left center. Wass then followed with a two-run home run off the scoreboard in left, good for his fifth round tripper of the season.
Gage Smith, who was making his second appearance of the NCAA Tournament and 114th of his career, went 1.1 innings allowing three runs on four hits. Jameis Winston worked the final 2.2 innings as he did not allow a run or hit while walking one and striking out two.
“There’s not a lot I can say about it,” said Gonzalez on the season coming to an end. “I’ve been part of this program for five years, and made a lot of good friends that are like family to me. I wanted to leave behind a legacy for my teammates, for the program, for the fans, and, unfortunately, we weren’t able to do what we set out to do at the beginning of the season.”
Florida State ended the season with 40 wins for the 37th year in a row, while clinching the ACC Atlantic Division title for the eighth consecutive year.