March 8, 2010
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Second-ranked Florida State (11-0) kept its undefeated record intact Monday evening in Jacksonville (6-5) as three Seminole pitchers combined for a one-hit shutout en route to a 2-0 victory over the Dolphins.
The 3,112 fans in attendance inside John Sessions Stadium on Monday night were three outs away from witnessing the ninth no-hitter in Florida State history and the first since February 18, 1998 when Chris Chavez no-hit Charleston Southern in a 13-0 Seminole victory. But JU first baseman Alex Martinez singled back up the middle on a 3-2 pitch off Tyler Everett to lead off the bottom of the ninth for the first Dolphin hit of the game.
Everett bounced back and got a fly out and groundout back to the mound before handing the ball over to Daniel Bennett for the final out of the game. After Everett fell behind 3-0 to Esterlin Perozo, head coach Mike Martin went to the bullpen and brought on Bennett, who got the Dolphin right fielder to groundout to short for the final out of the game.
The one-hit shutout put together by Mike McGee, Everett and Bennett was the first since opening day on January 28, 2005. On that day, Mark Sauls, Kevin Lynch and Tyler Chambliss combined to one-hit Charleston Southern in a 2-1 Florida State victory.
“I just can’t say enough about the job that Mike McGee, Tyler Everett and Daniel Bennett did,” said head coach Mike Martin. “Bennett comes in, inherits a 3-0 count and goes strike one and then gets the groundball to end the game. Tyler Everett comes in with a no, no on the line and pitches beautiful baseball. It was a big win for us. I just can’t say enough about the composure that we showed to get it done.”
In his first start of the season, Mike McGee was nearly flawless blanking the Dolphins over six innings and leaving after throwing 99 pitches. He finished the game with eight strikeouts while issuing four walks. It marked just the second time in 23 career starts that McGee did not allow run in which he worked six or more innings.
“I felt good,” said McGee. “My arm has had plenty of rest, I haven’t thrown all season. But I felt real good. It took a little awhile to get used to the mound tonight which probably attributed to my wildness in the beginning, but other than that I felt really good. I was throwing my change-up for strikes which I hardly ever do. I think I struck out two or three on change-ups tonight. It was a tough game and I am just glad we got the win.”
Everett worked 2.2 scoreless innings recording two strikeouts, while Bennett threw just two pitches to earn his second save in as many chances on the year.
Making his first collegiate start in the field, Sean Gilmartin recorded his first multi-hit game of his career going 2-for-4 while driving in what ended up being the game-winner with an RBI single in the fifth.
“I was excited to get the start tonight,” said Gilmartin. “I really have to credit Loosen for putting up as many zeros as he did tonight. He didn’t really miss any of his spots all night long. He was around the strike zone which is good for both the hitters and the pitcher because you know he is not going to throw many balls so you’re up there ready to swing the bat.”
Zeros blanketed the scoreboard through the first four innings as FSU’s McGee and JU’s Matt Loosen found themselves in an old fashion pitcher’s duel.
The Dolphins first scoring threat came in the third when Jimmy Horwick drew a walk to start the inning. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Derek Abis and moved to third as Chuck Opachich grounded out to first on a tag out by McGee. Horwick would be stranded at third as the Seminole right hander got Chris Connelly swinging on strikes to keep the game deadlocked at zero.
Loosen retired the first 13 batters that he faced until Sherman Johnson came through with the game’s first hit drilling a single back up the middle on a full count in the top of the fifth. The hit extended Johnson’s hit streak to a career-best 10 games. After hitting Justin Gonzalez on a 3-1 pitch, Gilmartin stepped in and came through with an RBI single knocking a base hit through the right side of the infield scoring Johnson for a 1-0 Seminole lead.
“The first pitch of the at-bat was a slider, like a little splitter slider,” said Gilmartin. “I kind of figured I would see the pitch again some time in the at-bat, but it ended up being the next pitch. I was fortunate enough to put a good swing on it and drive it through the whole.”
Gilmartin, who got the start at first base on Monday, found the whole in between the right side of the infield for his first hit of the game. The JU right hander would leave the Seminole runners stranded at the corners registering back-to-back strikeouts from Parker Brunelle and Ohmed Danesh to end the inning.
McGee answered the call striking out the side in the bottom half of the inning on 13 pitches. In fact, the Port St. Lucie, Fla., native retired six in a row before giving up a walk to Dan Gulbransen in the bottom of the sixth. But the walk would go to no avail as Martinez grounded into a fielder’s choice put out at second to keep the Dolphins off the scoreboard.
Loosen (0-1) suffered the loss but not after baffling the Seminole hitters all night long. The junior right hander allowed just one run on four hits as he walked one and struck out a career-high 11 batters on the evening.
“Well, it’s just what happens in this game,” added Martin. “You are `so called’ cruising along, scoring double-digit runs a lot and then you run into Loosen who pitched beautifully; that was just superb, one of the best games we have had pitched against us in a long time, no two ways about it. But our young men stayed tough, we got great pitching and it was a great win for our baseball team.”
FSU added to its lead in the ninth on an RBI single off the bat of Brunelle. With Johnson and Gonzalez aboard following a walk and a base hit, respectively, the Seminole catcher hit a come backer up the middle that ricocheted off the foot of JU pitcher Chris Kaminski and into shallow right field scoring Johnson for a 2-0 edge.
The shutout was the second of the season for the Seminoles after not recording one all of last year. Monday night in Jacksonville also marked the first time all year that FSU did not reach double-digits hits in a game. It also closed the book on FSU’s current streak of 15-consecutive double-digit hit games which dated back to last year.
The Seminoles return home to face North Florida on Wednesday, March 10 at 4:00 p.m. in a game rescheduled due to a rain out on February 24. Fans holding tickets for the regular scheduled game on the 24th will be honored on Wednesday. Fans can listen in locally on 1270 the Team and 94.3 FM locally and on the web at Seminoles.com. Right hander Robert Benincasa will take the mound for the Seminoles.