April 22, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Sherman Johnson’s walk-off base hit in the 10th inning scored Giovanny Alfonzo from second base to give top-ranked Florida State (33-7, 19-2 ACC) an 8-7 come-from-behind victory over No. 18 Miami (26-14, 12-9 ACC) Sunday afternoon on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
The Seminoles trailed by as many as three runs on Sunday but slowly chipped away at the Hurricane lead scoring two in the sixth and one more in the seventh to force extra innings.
“That’s the typical Florida State, Miami baseball game,” said head coach Mike Martin. “Miami did such a good job of coming back from a four-run deficit to go up by three. I was just very, very proud of our young men for keeping their poise and getting back in the ball game with a couple key hits.”
Alfonzo led off the 10th with a single to right of Miami closer E.J. Encinosa (2-3) for his first collegiate hit. The freshman from Port St. Lucie, Fla., would move into scoring position after successfully swiping second base for his first career steal. Seth Miller then reached after getting hit on the knee bringing up Johnson. The senior third baseman took a 2-1 sinker from Encinosa through the right side of the infield for a base hit scoring Alfonzo for the game-winning run.
“We knew he was going to go sinker,” said Johnson on his at-bat against Encinosa in the 10th. “First pitch was a sinker for a strike and then he threw another sinker off the plate for a ball and then another sinker down for a ball. I figured I would see a sinker the next pitch and it was, so I put a good swing on it and found the hole. I was turning back looking to see if he (Alfonzo) was going to score and when I realized he did it was all happiness from there.”
“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Alfonzo on getting his first career hit. “Against Miami, definitely, I’m from South Florida so it felt good. It was a fastball. It didn’t tail like his fastballs normally do, I was able to keep my hands inside and hit it to right field.”
The win completed a perfect weekend for Florida State as the Seminoles swept the regular-season series from the Hurricanes for the first time since 2002 and for the first time in Tallahassee since 2000.
“I am very proud of this team for what they accomplished this weekend,” added Martin. “It’s something that hasn’t happened in a while and I am just very proud to be a part of it. Our ball club played very well.”
With the win, FSU remained perfect at home in the ACC this year improving to 9-0. At 19-2 in the league, the Seminoles tied the school record (19-2 in 1999) for their best league record through 22 games, while maintaining their six-game lead over NC State atop the Atlantic Division. The Seminoles also finished the regular season with a perfect 15-0 record against schools from the Coastal Division.
Florida State improved to 10-0 in one-run games this year and 3-0 when playing in extra innings. The loss was the first in three games for the Hurricanes in extra innings in 2012.
“It’s awesome,” said Johnson. “Anytime you can sweep Miami, which hasn’t been done in a while, is awesome. Gage Smith threw well today just to keep us in the ball game and then Gio got his first base hit which was a good time to get one. I am just proud of everyone.”
The Seminoles ran out to the early lead on Sunday scoring four runs in the bottom of the first off Miami starter Steven Ewing. The Seminoles opened the game with consecutive base hits by Johnson and Devon Travis followed by a James Ramsey walk to load the bases. Stephen McGee brought home the first run of the game when he was hit on the foot. Justin Gonzalez made it 2-0 with a two-out RBI bunt single down the third base line. John Holland rounded out the scoring with a two-run double down the line in left to give FSU a 4-0 lead.
Gonzalez would leave the game after reaching third on Holland’s double as he suffered a hamstring strain to his right leg after legging out his bunt base hit. Alfonzo would enter the game to play short to start the top of the second.
“Alfonzo came in and played shortstop extremely well for us,” said Martin.
The four-run lead for the Seminoles quickly evaporated in the fourth when the Hurricanes sent 12 batters to the plate scoring seven times to take a 7-4 lead. The first four batters to the plate in the fourth reached on three singles and a walk off FSU starter Scott Sitz. Rony Rodriguez and Dale Carey both recorded RBI singles ending the afternoon for Sitz after just 3.0 plus innings of work.
Hunter Scantling came on and issued a walk to Brad Fieger before Michael Broad gave the Hurricanes their first lead of the series connecting on a grand slam to left. The junior second baseman took a 2-1 offering from Scantling off the scoreboard for his second home run of the season and fourth career grand slam.
Kyle Bird became the third pitcher of the inning and recorded the first two outs but gave up an RBI double to Tyler Palmer scoring Julian Santos to make the score 7-4.
Gage Smith came on and got the Seminoles out of the inning getting Rony Rodriguez looking at a called third strike.
Smith would shut down the Hurricanes for the next four innings giving the offense a chance to claw its way back into the ballgame. Smith allowed just two hits, both coming with two outs in the seventh, and one walk while striking out four. The Tallahassee, Fla., native recorded career-highs in innings pitched (4.1) and strikeouts on Sunday.
“He was the key to the ball game,” said Martin on Smith delivering 4.1 shutout innings on Sunday. “Gage Smith came in and settled everything down for us to give us a chance to get back in it.”
“Honestly, I was just trying to go in and throw strikes,” said Smith. “I have the best defense in the country behind me so I just try and get groundballs and get outs.”
Florida State drew within one of the lead at 7-6 scoring twice in the sixth. McGee led off the inning with a single to center off Ewing and moved to third after a pair of groundouts. He would later score on a two-out double down the right field foul line off the bat of Holland. Pinch hitter John Nogowski followed with a base hit back up the middle to score Holland.
The Seminoles scored the equalizer in the seventh on a double off the wall in right center off the bat of Jayce Boyd. Travis led off the inning drawing a walk off Ewing and scored all the way from first on the RBI double from Boyd.
Ewing went 6.1 innings on Sunday allowing seven runs on nine hits as he walked two and struck out seven in earning the no decision.
“We went and got Benny a little bit before we would normally get him and he really pitched beautifully,” said Martin.
Robert Benincasa worked the ninth and 10th innings to pick-up the victory and move to 4-0 on the year. The junior right hander gave up a two-out single to Mack in the ninth, but struck out Rodriguez to retire the side.
Miami made some noise in the 10th putting together consecutive two-out singles by Broad and Santos, but Benincasa closed the door on the rally getting Garrett Kennedy swinging on strikes.
Benincasa worked two scoreless innings in the series finale finishing with three strikeouts.
Johnson, Boyd, McGee and Holland each recorded two hits apiece, while Holland tallied a career-high three RBI in the win. McGee finished the afternoon reaching base on all five plate appearances as the redshirt sophomore catcher went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, two walks and reached on his first at-bat courtesy of a hit-by-pitch.
Florida State will take the mid-week off for exams before returning to the diamond on Friday, April 27 at 6:00 p.m. for the first of three games against the University of Rhode Island.