June 2, 2013
By: Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com Managing Editor
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Another dominating post-season performance; another trip to a Super Regional for the Florida State baseball team.
No. 7-seeded FSU clobbered Troy, 11-4, Sunday night to cap off an impressive Tallahassee Regional performance. In three games against Savannah State and Troy over the past three nights, the Seminoles (47-15) outscored their opponents 32-4.
In winning their 19th consecutive NCAA Regional game, the ‘Noles earned a Super Regional berth for the sixth consecutive season and the 13th time in the program’s storied history. Florida State will host Indiana next weekend with a trip to the College World Series on the line.
“This is huge especially to have it at home field,” FSU redshirt junior catcher Stephen McGee said. “I’m really looking forward to it. I know last season with Stanford it was awesome. The crowd was electric. It was amazing. These guys will find out that this crowd that we had, even though it was really good this whole regional, super regional it gets even louder.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience.”
Sophomore Brandon Leibrandt(10-4) got the win against the Trojans (42-20), who used a bottom-of-the-ninth rally earlier in the day to beat Alabama and set up the showdown, with five innings of four-run ball pitched.
But it was Brett Kniefthat broke the game open during a game-changing, come-from-behind seven-run fourth inning for the Seminoles. In his first season with FSU, Knief blasted a grand slam that extended his team’s 5-3 lead to 9-4 and the ‘Noles never looked back.
The four-run dinger that literally slammed off the left-field scoreboard in grand fashion was Knief’s first home run in a Seminole uniform.
“I actually faced [Troy pitcher Jeremy McGowan] yesterday so I knew he had a good slider, really good actually. I tried to sit on it, let anything straight go by,” Knief said. “I got lucky, put the bat head out, and I was able to help our team out.”
McGee added three RBIs for Florida State and Marcus Davis added two more. Jose Brizuela posted another RBI and Giovanny Alfonzo matched his career high with three hits. DJ Stewartalso added two hits for an FSU squad that recorded 11 hits on the day.
After the game, Stewart, Davis, Brizuela, Luke Weaver and Scott Sitzwere all named to the Tallahassee All-Regional Team. Weaver was named the regional’s most outstanding player following his incredible Saturday-night performance against the Trojans when he tossed a career-best 14 strikeouts.
Sunday, Josh Delphopened the game with a lead-off double before Stewart extended his hitting streak to 15 consecutive games with a shot to nearly the same spot. Delph was able to score on the play and give FSU an early 1-0 lead because of a fielding error on the Troy second baseman and Stewart advanced to third with no outs.
McGee then drew a walk and that ended the day for Troy starting pitcher Levi Tate. Tate was replaced by Jeremy McGowan, who despite loading the bases, went unharmed and held to the ‘Noles to just one opening-inning run.
The Trojans then registered a single and walk but Leibrandt was able to get out his own jam an inning later with a well-executed 6-4-3 double play by his defense. John Sansone’sone-out double in the bottom half of the second then put the ‘Noles back in scoring position but they couldn’t push any additional runs across.
Troy was able to strike next as Garrett Pitts led off the third with a double down the right-field line and was later driven home by Logan Pierce’s RBI single. Tied at 1-1, Leibrandt then allowed another double that scored Pierce and gave Troy the lead and FSU’s first deficit of the Tallahassee Regional.
But it was a deficit that was short lived as Brizuela tied the game at 2-2 with his monster home run to right field. Brizuela’s bomb was his first career post-season home run.
Troy got that run back and recaptured the lead in the fourth thanks to Clay Holcomb’s RBI single to left center that plated Brandon Brown to give the Trojans a 3-2 lead.
The ‘Noles had an answer, though — thanks in part to McGee’s head. With the bases loaded and just one out in the bottom of the third he was hit in the helmet by an errant pitch and the tying run walked home. McGee, who is known as FSU’s iron man, shook it off and then had the opportunity to run to third base thanks to Davis’ two-RBI double to left-center field that scored Delph and Sansone and put the Seminoles back on top, 5-3.
Nogowski then walked and McGowan was pulled in favor of Nate Hill. Unfortunately for Troy’s third pitcher of the day, Knief was ready to make a memory as his unforgettable grand slam extended Florida State’s lead to 9-3 heading into the fifth.
“I’m just excited to help our team in anyway,” Knief said. “I have a role on this team. That’s what anyone can ask for, just have a role and know what your role is. At this point of the season I know my role and I am just happy that I could fulfill that role.”
Trae Santos later added a solo home run for the Trojans and FSU also pushed two across on McGee’s eighth-inning single to left field.
Ticket information for FSU’s Super Regional games against the Hoosiers will be announced as soon as it is made available.
“We’re obviously elated to be in the position we are in, but we also know that there is a very good team coming in here,” FSU coach Mike Martin said. “It’s going to be a real challenge and it’s going to be fun. I’m just proud of this ball club and the way they got it done.”