June 12, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – Sophomore shortstop Justin Gonzalez’s three-run moonshot in the sixth inning broke open a game that was still within Texas A&M’s reach as the Florida State baseball team forced a decisive winner-takes-all game on Monday with a 23-9 victory over Texas A&M on Sunday evening in the NCAA Super Regionals at Dick Howser Stadium.
Monday’s contest will begin at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
Early on, FSU looked as if it would blow the game open after taking an 8-0 lead through 2 ½ innings. However, the Aggies (46-20) roared back with six runs in the bottom of the third, and although FSU responded with two more scores to take a 10-6 lead through four frames, it was looking for a big-time spark to create even more separation.
That’s when Gonzalez stepped to the plate with one out and two runners on base in the sixth inning. Facing Texas A&M reliever Joaquin Hinojosa, Gonzalez delivered his eighth blast of the season on a deep fly ball to left field to create a seven-run lead. Gonzalez also recorded a career-high six RBIs as FSU scored its most runs in a single game since defeating Ohio State, 37-6, on May 31, 2009, in the NCAA Regional final.
Stuart Tapley, who finished 3-for-4 with two home runs and a season-high five RBIs, added to the momentum when he helped deliver back-to-back round trippers on a solo home run to left field, making it 14-6. Tapley recorded his first two-homer game since May 11, 2008 against Savannah State, and now has six blasts this year.
It was FSU’s first back-to-back home-run performance since doing so against Wake Forest on March 27, when Mike McGee and James Ramsey hit consecutive shots. The 32 combined runs by both teams mark the highest of any 2011 NCAA postseason game so far.
Prior to today’s contest, FSU lost the coin flip to determine the home team for game three on Monday, and will be the visitors and bat first tomorrow.
Highlighting FSU’s proficient day at the plate was a season-high four home runs, with Jayce Boyd getting into the act in the seventh inning on a two-run shot to left field. Boyd finished 4-for-4 with three RBIs and five runs scored on the evening, including a double and a home run. Other multiple-hit efforts came from Devon Travis, Tapley, Ramsey, Gonzalez and Taiwan Easterling, as FSU produced 16 base hits as a unit.
The Seminole offense bolted to an early 5-0 lead after racking up four hits in the first inning. For the second consecutive game, Travis led off with a double, then advanced to third base on a wild pitch during McGee’s at-bat. McGee took a hitters’ count offering from Derrick Hadley and ripped an RBI single through the left side. After Ramsey was hit by a pitch, Boyd hit an RBI single to right center, and Gonzalez later recorded a sacrifice fly in foul territory to score a hustling Ramsey from third base.
Easterling finished the scoring with a two-RBI single up the middle.
In the second inning, the Seminoles (47-18) tacked on another run when hot-hitting Ramsey singled through the right side to score Travis, who led off the inning with yet another double. Travis’ two-bagger placed him in the Top 10 single-season ranks at FSU for doubles with 26, joining Tyler Holt (2010), Tony Richie (2003), Tony McQuaide (2002), Marshall McDougall (1999) and Nandy Serrano (1991).
Tapley unleashed a two-run shot to left center that plated him and Gonzalez to create an 8-0 advantage.
After being held hitless through the first two innings, the Aggies trimmed their once-large deficit to 8-6 after notching four hits in the fourth inning. McGee surrendered a bases-loaded walk to Krey Bratsen, and was relieved by pitcher Scott Sitz after two innings of work. Matt Juengel then recorded a sacrifice fly to right field, followed by an RBI single from Jacob House to cut the score to 8-3. Two batters later, Kevin Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield, and Brandon Wood followed with a key two-run double off the right field fence. Sitz ended the jam when he struck out Jackson on three pitches.
FSU bounced back with two runs in the fourth frame. Boyd’s double to left center with one out eventually led him home on a two-out RBI single by Tapley. Boyd rounded third base and scored after Wood’s throw from left field bounced off his helmet, allowing Gonzalez to also score on the errant throw after walking in the inning.
Texas A&M’s Hadley (0-1) took the loss after allowing six earned runs on five hits in one inning pitched. Sitz (4-2) delivered the win for FSU, while Mack Waugh earned a three-inning save (S, 2).
The Aggies are expected to send sophomore right-hander Michael Wacha (8-3, 2.10 ERA) to the hill for Monday’s game. FSU is expected to counter with junior right-hander Hunter Scantling (3-2, 3.84 ERA).