April 23, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Solid pitching and timely hitting enabled Mike Martin’s 10th-ranked Florida State baseball team to continue its mastery of Duke at home Saturday night.
The Seminoles (30-10, 13-7 ACC) provided starter Hunter Scantling with a pair of runs in the first, then broke the game open with a four-run fifth and rolled to a 10-3 win.
It was the Florida State’s sixth consecutive victory – tying its longest winning streak of the season – and 20th consecutive at home against the Blue Devils.
“I tip my hat to the guys inside (the clubhouse) because they beat a very good pitcher in Marcus Stroman,” Martin said. “That young man is as impressive as any young man we’ve competed against this season. … That’s a big-time pro prospect.”
Stroman, who pitches in the mid-90s with a slider and a curve, got off to a rocky start. Devon Travis and Sherman Johnson greeted him with first-inning doubles, setting up Mike McGee’s two-run single. The Seminoles never surrendered the lead.
“When I got up to the plate I was going to bunt him [Travis] over,” said Johnson. “The count got to 3-1 and I was just looking for a pitch to pull and got it on the barrel.”
It was the first of two doubles on the night for Johnson, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Five of FSU’s nine hits were doubles.
Stroman settled down, facing one batter more than the minimum over the next three frames, but Duke was unable to cut into the 2-0 deficit against FSU starter Hunter Scantling (3-0). Scantling retired the first nine Blue Devils and did not allow a hit until the fourth. Jeff Kremer stroked a leadoff double and Jordan Betts’ RBI single halved the FSU lead before the big right-hander coaxed an inning-ending double play grounder.
“I was hoping last week would go a little better,” said Scantling, who was chased early at Virginia Tech. “Just to come back and get some quality innings and help the team get the win was big.”
He called the coaching staff’s decision to keep him in the rotation a “big boost.”
“It shows the coaches are starting to trust in me and I just want to be more consistent to show that they can trust on me later in the season,” Scantling said.
Scantling scattered three hits, struck out five, walked one and yielded two runs in six innings, only one of which was earned.
“He [Scantling] threw the ball extremely well today and he kept the ball down,” said Johnson. “When he keeps the ball down he’s really tough to hit and it showed tonight. He let the defense work.”
FSU put the game away with a four-run fifth as Stroman (1-3) tired, issuing a pair of walks and uncorking three wild pitches. James Ramsey followed a McGee double with a two-run single to left, which bounced over the head of drawn infield. That extended his ACC-leading hitting streak to 18 games and gave the Seminoles a 6-1 lead.
“We had some good at-bats,” said Martin. “The inning that we got to Stroman, there were a couple of situations where we took advantage of mistakes.”
The Seminoles tacked on two runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Seth Miller’s RBI single and Johnson’s run-scoring double pushed FSU’s lead to 8-2. Jayce Boyd belted his fourth homer of the season to lead off the seventh.
“I’ve hit a couple balls like that, mostly in high school,” Boyd said of his wind-aided blast. “When it came off the bat, `That’s a feeling a felt before.’ It ended up getting out; it carried pretty well.”
Redshirt freshman David Trexler (2-0) will make his first weekend start in Sunday’s series finale against the Blue Devils. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.