Feb. 26, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Mike McGee has spent the past few weeks tuning up his bat in the cage with assistant coach Mike Martin, Jr. The senior All-American’s performance in Saturday’s 16-3 rout of Hoftrsa left little doubt that he’s hitting on all cylinders.
McGee matched a career-high with six RBI on a 3-for-4 performance, highlighted by his fourth inning grand slam; his first home run of the season.
“It feels great to feel good again,” said McGee, who is in the midst of an impressive turnaround week.
The eighth-ranked Seminoles (6-0) started slowly against the Pride, who jumped on FSU left-hander Brian Busch for three runs on four first inning hits.
It didn’t take long for the Seminoles’ experience to show up. The `Noles scored two in the first behind a McGee RBI single and an RBI double by Jayce Boyd, then took the lead for good in the second.
Seminole catcher Rafael Lopez led off the second with a game-tying homer to right off Hofstra starter Rob Kumbatovic, who yielded a one-out walk to Seth Miller and a single to Justin Gonzalez. Devon Travis brought home Miller with the go-ahead run, bouncing into a fielder’s choice.
It took a while for Busch to settle into a rhythm, but the Pride (0-5) never could regain their first-inning form. Danny Poma’s two-out single in the second was Hofstra’s final hit of the game.
“I came out a little nervous because the last outing was a poor outing and I wanted to throw better,” said Busch. “I was leaving the balls over the middle of the plate and I couldn’t locate in or out.”
Busch received some defensive help to escape a problem in the third, issuing a pair of one-out walks. They nearly proved costly when Lopez was charged with a passed ball, then sailed his throw down to second into center field. Fortunately, McGee was more than willing to contribute with his arm, as well as his bat, cutting down Hofstra’s T.J. Thomas at third with a perfect strike.
“It definitely felt like a weight lifted off your shoulders, especially when the guys get four runs in the first few (innings) for me and I get in a little trouble in the third and Mike throws out the guy at third base,” Busch said. “That definitely takes a lot of pressure off me.”
Busch (1-0) settled down from there, retiring the final seven batters he faced; good enough to earn the victory.
The Seminoles found the pressure release valve again in the fourth, scoring five times to seize control of the game. Gonzalez doubled for his second of a career-high three hits. FSU used two walks and a hit batter to make it 5-3 before McGee unloaded on a bomb which cleared the bases.
“I squared it up,” McGee said. “I thought it might have gone off the screen because it was a line drive. I was kind of shocked when it went over. I was happy with it.”
In addition to it being the first homer of the year for McGee, who has led the team in that category for consecutive seasons, it was the Seminoles first grand slam since McGee belted on against LeMoyne on May 2 last season.
FSU finally ended Kumbatovic’s day in the fifth, adding four more run on three walks and three hits, including a two-run double by Sherman Johnson and an RBI single by McGee. It also wrapped up the day for McGee, who enjoyed his third, six-RBI performance and first since 2009 against Wake Forest.
The Seminoles closed out their scoring with two in the eighth on Robby Stahl’s RBI double and an RBI single by Peter Miller, pushing the final count to a season-high 16 runs. FSU also used a 14-hit attack to extend its streak of double-digit hit games to six this season.
Florida State head coach Mike Martin was pleased to see Busch turn things around before leaving after five innings.
“I honestly think he [Busch] just kicked himself because he was not locating the fastball, the curveball, the change – he was all over everywhere,” Martin said. “He seemed to gather his emotions and his composure and went out and did the job.”
Busch struck out five and allowed three earned runs before giving way to the bullpen, which continued its impressive start. Robert Benincasa worked two innings and was followed by Brandon Johnson and Mack Waugh, as they combined for four innings of hitless relief.
“The stat that blows my mind is the seven and one-third innings worth of no hits after the second inning,” Martin said.
In addition to the three-hit performances at the plate by McGee and Gonzalez, the `Noles received a 2-for-4 effort from Boyd. Sherman Johnson added three RBI to the cause for the `Noles, who improved to 12-0 all-time against Hofstra.
FSU will send Gary Merians to the mound for Sunday’s series finale against the Pride. In addition to seeking a series sweep, the Seminoles are gunning for their 20th consecutive Sunday victory, dating to the 2009 NCAA Regional win over Ohio State.