March 22, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In a back and forth contest that featured two ties and five lead changes, the last lead on Sunday belonged to the Seminoles as Mike McGee launched a walk-off, three-run blast in the bottom of the ninth to give 17th-ranked Florida State (11-8, 3-4 ACC) a 7-4 victory over 16th-ranked Clemson (14-6, 5-4 ACC). The win secured the first ACC series victory for Florida State in 2009, while bringing the Seminoles within a game of Boston College for the Atlantic Division lead.
The home run capped off an incredible game for the Port St. Lucie, Fla., native as McGee finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with four RBI and two runs scored. The ninth inning home run was his second of the game marking his first career multi-home run game. The play also goes down as McGee’s first career walk-off hit.
“I don’t care if it is only close to the 20th game of the year, that was a big win for our baseball program,” head coach Mike Martin said. “Believe me that was huge.”
The sophomore right hander was also the Seminole starter in the series finale working six strong innings in earning a no decision. McGee allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits as he walked five and struck out four. The six innings tied a season-high while it was McGee’s second weekend start of the year.
As was the case in Saturday night’s game, the Seminoles once again had to rally from a late inning deficit. This time down a run in the ninth, Florida State got the leadoff hitter aboard as pinch hitter Tommy Oravetz found the hole between through the left side for a single off Tiger reliever Justin Sarratt (3-1). James Ramsey was called on to pinch run for Oravetz at first and would move up 90 as Tyler Holt drew a walk. After a successful sacrifice bunt by Stephen Cardullo moved the runners to second and third, Stuart Tapley loaded the bases earning a hard fought walk after getting behind in the count at 0-2.
The Seminoles tied the game at four one batter later as Ramsey scored on a sacrifice fly to foul territory in left off the bat of Jason Stidham. Holt and Tapley made a head’s up move on the base paths as each runner advanced a base as the throw from Jeff Schaus went to the plate. With the winning run standing just 90 feet away, McGee made certain the run would score as he roped a 1-2 offering from Sarratt out of the ball park to the opposite field in right for the game-winner.
“I knew off the bat it was going to hit the fence,” McGee explained. “It was a plus for it to get over the fence, but I knew as soon as I hit it, it was going to at least hit the fence.”
The walk-off victory is the second of the year for the Seminoles and the first in league play since Jack Rye’s walk-off single against Virginia in the 10th in Tallahassee a season ago.
John Gast got the win as he pitched a perfect ninth retiring all three batters that he faced. The sophomore southpaw now stands at 2-2 on the year.
Clemson was the first to strike on Sunday with a run in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Brad Miller led off the game with a walk and advanced to third on a hit and run single to right by Mike Freeman. Miller scored a batter later as Ben Paulsen grounded into a double play.
The Seminoles tied the game in the second on a two-out base hit off the bat of Ruairi O’Connor. Making his second start of the season, O’Connor ripped a base hit back up the middle to score D’Vontrey Richardson from second. Richardson got on base after drawing a four pitch walk from Clemson starter Casey Harman and then moved into scoring position after Harman was charged with a balk.
McGee helped his own cause in the fourth hammering a solo shot to left to give the Seminoles their first lead of the game. The Port St. Lucie, Fla., native crushed a 3-2 offering from Harman out of the park to left for his third home run of the season and ninth of his career.
The Tigers loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth but came away empty handed as McGee got Freeman swinging on strikes to maintain FSU’s one-run lead. The sophomore right hander began the inning getting Clemson designated hitter Will Lamb looking on strikes and then relied on the strikeout once again to get out of a jam.
The Seminoles returned the favor in the bottom half of the fifth loading the bases after Harman retired the first two batters that he faced. FSU was unable to add to its lead as the Tiger southpaw got Stidham swinging on strikes, but the out was recorded at the plate as the ball skipped in the dirt. Tiger catcher Phil Pohl got to the ball and tagged out Holt sliding into home for the final out of the inning.
Clemson grabbed the lead for the second time on Sunday with two runs in the top of the sixth to make the score 3-2. After Paulsen and Lamb reached on an infield single and a single to left, respectively, Jason Stolz brought home the tying run as he laced a base hit to left just off the outstretched glove of a leaping Cardullo at short. Lamb would score on the play as the throw from O’Connor in left went into the Clemson dugout.
“I struggled in the first inning because I was nervous,” McGee said. “I’ve never really thrown in a big ACC game before like that so I was a little nervous going into this one. I settled down and I am glad I got into a groove. I’m happy with today’s pitching.”
The Tigers looked to add to their lead in the seventh loading the bases on just one out against reliever Mark Peterson. The freshman southpaw got Jeff Schaus to ground into a fielder’s choice putout at the plate as Jack Posey threw on to Parker Brunelle for the second out of the inning. Peterson then proceeded to get out of the inning unscathed as he got pinch hitter Richard Mounce to fly out to Ohmed Danesh in right.
FSU rallied to tie the game once again with a run in the seventh. Brunelle led off the inning with a single through the right side off Tiger reliever Tomas Cruz. The sophomore catcher then advanced to third on a two base throwing error on a failed pickoff attempt by Cruz. One batter later, Holt tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right.
The lead went back to the Tigers in the eighth on a well executed squeeze play. With Stolz on third after leading off the inning with a walk, Clemson put the runner in motion on a 1-2 count as Addison Johnson laid down a bunt right in front of the pitcher’s mound. Stolz scored on the sacrifice bunt to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.
Peterson worked two innings in relief allowing a run on two hits, while issuing a career-high three walks.
The Seminoles once again came through with some clutch hitting as five of the seven runs scored on Sunday came on two outs. For the weekend, 13 of the 19 runs scored in the series against the Tigers came on two outs.
Florida State will return to the diamond for a two-game, mid-week series at home against Florida Gulf Coast beginning Tuesday, March 24. First pitch for both games is slated for 6:00 p.m. on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. Tuesday’s game will air live on FS Florida, while Wednesday’ game can be seen on ACC Select. Fans can listen to the action on 1270 the Team, while live stats will also be available via gametracker on www.seminoles.com.