April 22, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Economy and performance.
Everyone wants that in a new car, but Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin is glad to have it in junior left-hander Sean Gilmartin.
Gilmartin continued his season-long brilliance Friday night at Dick Howser Stadium at the expense of visiting Duke. With complete command of his slider and change-up, the California native left the Blue Devils flailing in the twilight, registering a career-high 13 strikeouts over eight innings in a 2-1 victory.
“That was a pro game. Your starter goes eight; has a tremendous outing,” Martin said. “Your reliever comes in -1-2-3; just a well-played baseball game.”
One week after coming up on the wrong end of a 2-1 decision at Virginia Tech, despite a complete game, four-hitter, Gilmartin (7-1, 1.38) never gave the Blue Devils a chance. He registered at least one strikeout against all nine Duke starters, as 70 of his 97 pitches were strikes.
It was Gilmartin’s 28th career victory, which is tied for fifth among active Division I pitchers and ranks 11th in Florida State history. And while he would have liked to have taken the mound in the ninth to finish the job, he was more than happy with the performance.
“That’s weird, 97 pitches and 13 strikeouts,” Gilmartin said. “I felt a lot stronger as the game got on.”
Gilmartin struck out the side in the seventh and eighth innings, sailing past his previous career-high of 11 strikeouts, which he posted twice earlier this season.
Florida State jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second when Justin Gonzalez launched a line drive which sailed over the wall in left for his fifth homer of the season. They tacked on the would-be winning run in the fourth when Stuart Tapley (2-for-4) singled with two outs and scored on Sherman Johnson’s RBI single to right.
“I’ve never seen [Gilmartin] like that,” said Johnson. “It seems every time he goes out there he’s going to go eight innings of one-hit, two-hit, three-hit baseball.”
Johnson (3-for-4) led FSU’s seven-hit attack and, in the process, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. James Ramsey also extended his ACC-leading hitting streak to 16 games with a bunt single in the first for the `Noles.
Johnson and Ramsey have reached base safely in 38 of 39 games this season.
Duke’s lone run came in the fifth when Aaron Cohn doubled to right-center with two outs, scoring Angelo LaBruna, who opened the inning with a single.
It seemed to provide the easy-going Gilmartin with added motivation. He retired the next seven batters in order and struck out the side in the seventh and eighth – his final two innings of work.
“At that point I was really starting to get a boost in the game,” said Gilmartin.
Though he would have liked to the opportunity to finish what he started, Gilmartin turned the ball over to closer Daniel Bennett in the ninth. Facing three right-handers, the right-handed, sidearm slinger sat the Blue Devils down in order for his fifth save of the season and fourth in consecutive appearances.
“I would have liked to go back in there for the ninth, but I have a lot of confidence in my bullpen,” Gilmartin said.
Leaving his staff ace in also crossed Martin’s mind, if only momentarily.
“If friendship or respect enters into your decision, you’re not doing your job,” Martin said. “It did enter my mind, because I wanted Gilly to pitch. But we’ve got a guy in the bullpen that’s fresh and ready to go.”
“He was throwing [the change-up] low and away to right-handers,” Brunelle said. “To lefties, his slider was working phenomenal tonight and some of those guys couldn’t handle that for their lives. …
“It was a fun night to be back there. … It was fun to be a part of. Gilly and I are good friends and I wanted that for him. Anything I can do, I want to help out. I’m happy for him.”
The two teams square off again Saturday (6 p.m.) with the Seminoles sending right-hander Hunter Scantling to the mound to face Duke right-hander Marcus Stroman.