June 6, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It took Florida State just 49 minutes to put a ribbon on its 27th NCAA Regional baseball championship Monday, dispatching Alabama 11-1 in the completion of the suspended game.
The Seminoles (45-17), the No. 5 national seed, are expected to host the winner of Monday night’s winner between Texas A&M and Arizona, in a best-of-three Super Regional later this week. The pairings, sites and schedules will be released late tonight by the NCAA.
It was just the quick fix the `Noles needed to settle the overnight anxiety that came following the suspension of play due to inclement weather.
“I don’t know when I’ve spent a night in 32 years in which I was as anxious because of the fear of losing an 8-1 lead,” said FSU coach Mike Martin. “Thankfully, the players didn’t know anything about it. They went out there – of course, Scotty (Sitz) just controlled the ballgame.”
Sitz had the dubious task of making a pseudo-start, after McGee limited the Crimson Tide to a run on three hits through five complete innings. He learned that he would get the ball from pitching coach Jamey Shouppe with a late-Sunday phone call.
“Coach Shouppe told me we’ve got a seven-run; just pound the strike zone,” Sitz said, adding that he kept waking up during the night because he was anxious to get back to Dick Howser Stadium.
Alabama (35-28) had scored its lone run on Taylor Dugas’ solo homer to open the sixth when play was suspended. Sitz got Brock Bennett to ground sharply to third baseman Sherman Johnson on his first pitch.
“The first play of the sixth inning for us, that Sherman and JB (Jayce Boyd) made, just really relaxed all of us,” said Martin. “Sherman made an excellent play on the back-hand stop and JB made a great (scoop) play at first base. That just set the tone. … It was one of the fastest four innings we have played.”
Sitz worked four innings of two-hit, shutout baseball as the sophomore right-hander needed just 43 pitches to earn his first career save.
The Seminoles weren’t satisfied with maintaining their seven-run cushion. FSU continued its season-high, 19-hit assault against the Crimson Tide’s fatigued pitching staff, rapping out nine more hits over the final three innings.
Tournament MVP James Ramsey picked up his third hit of the game – he batted .615 (8-of-18) – with an infield single off the first base bag, then trotted home when Jayce Boyd uncorked his sixth homer of the season. The two-run shot was the Seminoles’ first of the tournament, though the team still managed to bat .398 and score 26 runs over three games.
“We were getting production from top-to-bottom all the way through (the batting order),” said McGee, who was 3-for-5 with a career-high three doubles and knocked in three runs.
Taiwan Easterling paved the way with a career-best 4-for-4 performance from the No. 9 spot in the order.
A single by Johnson and Justin Gonzalez’s second RBI double of the game – the Seminoles’ season-high seventh of the game – finished off the scoring.
“I just love playing with these guys,” said Ramsey, after the Seminoles finished off their 13th consecutive regional victory with a brief celebration. “You are never guaranteed tomorrow, so when you get out here in a fun situation like this – postseason baseball – you are just trying to make the most of it.
“We had a lot of smiling faces in the dugout all weekend and that just keeps the pressure off.”
The veteran Seminoles can now turn their attention toward getting to the College World Series for the 21st time
Game & Regional Notes
Florida State put an exclamation point on its 27th NCAA Regional championship… FSU outscored its Tallahassee Regional opponents (Bethune-Cookman and Alabama, twice) 26-11 and out-hit them 45-27… The Seminoles established new single-game season highs with 19 hits and 7 doubles…FSU’s 19 hits were the most allowed by Alabama this season…For the second time in three games – and the 8th time this season – FSU’s pitching staff did not issue a walk in the regional. McGee and Sitz combined to limit the Tide to five hits and one run, with six strikeouts. The `Noles are 8-0 in games when they do not issue a free pass…Tallahassee NCAA Regional Tournament MVP OF James Ramsey (8-for-13, .615) led five Seminoles selected to the All-Tournament team. He was joined by C Rafael Lopez (.500), 2B Devon Travis (.286), 3B Sherman Johnson (.455) and OF Mike McGee (.308).
Super Regional tickets
If Florida State is selected to host the 2011 NCAA Baseball Super Regional against the College Station, Texas Regional winner, tickets will go on sale Tuesday at the start of business after the dates and times for the best-of-three series has been announced.
Only all-tournament passes will be sold in advance, through Seminoles.com or the Florida State ticket office. Reserved grandstand all-tournament passes are $40 and general admission passes are $30.