May 1, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Hunter Scantling was sailing along with one out in the fifth against Miami when Florida State coach Mike Martin strode to the mound to lift the junior right-hander.
Martin asked Scantling for the ball and handed it to left-hander Brian Busch; never mind that the junior right-hander was working on a two-hit shutout.
“Did he deserve to be taken out of the ballgame? Probably not,” Martin said. “It was just something that I felt, and I could have very well been wrong.”
The decision paid big dividends and led the eighth-ranked Seminoles to 2-0 shutout victory over the Hurricanes in front of an Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field record crowd of 4,634.
Scantling, Busch and closer Daniel Bennett combined on a five-hitter as the Seminoles (33-10, 16-7 ACC) used their ninth consecutive win to secure the regular season series with their rivals. It was FSU’s first shutout of the Hurricanes on their home turf since 2003.
With their sixth ACC series of the season in hand, Martin’s club holds a four-game lead in the Atlantic Division over Clemson with six games remaining.
Suffering back-to-back league losses for the first time since late March – when they were swept at home by Georgia Tech – the No. 14 Hurricanes (28-15, 15-7) slipped further back in the once-tight Coastal Division race.
One night after Miami committed a season-high seven errors, right fielder Dale Carey’s misplay of a Devon Travis single in the fifth provided the Seminoles with all the runs they would need. Justin Gonzalez led off the fifth by singling off starter Eric Whaley before Travis lined hit two-out single to right, which escaped Carey. Gonzalez came all the way around from first to score and provide the `Noles with a 1-0 lead.
“To do something like that down here in Miami, no matter what happens, that was a good feeling,” said Brunelle. “We had the lead at the time, but to get a hit like that to put us up by two late in the game … that was fun. That was a good spot.”
Beyond the rock-solid pitching effort of the Seminole trio, Florida State’s defense was flawless; no small factor in the outcome considering the Hurricanes stranded 11 baserunners.
Martin’s decision to replace Scantling with Busch (3-1) was based largely on match-ups and worked even better than expected. The left-hander got the game into the eighth before he turned the ball over to Bennett, who recorded the final four outs for his seventh save of the season.
Scantling scattered two hits over 4.1 innings, but did his best work in the third when he picked off Miami’s Zeke DeVoss and Stephen Perez at second base for the second and third outs of the inning.
“It’s a timing move that we’ve worked on since day one when I got here,” Scantling said of the pickoff play. “It was just the right time to use it. They were finding something to go off of when I turned my head. And right when I turned my head, the second baseman breaks, and we got ’em.”
The right-hander, who has helped FSU rattle off three consecutive Saturday wins and four straight Saturday losses, struck out two and walked four. And he’ll get the ball again next Saturday against UCF.
Busch also yielded a pair of walks but got the Hurricanes to fly out seven times into a stiff wind which kept several balls in the park. Bennett took over from there.
“He’s a fierce competitor,” Busch said of Bennett. “And when you hand the ball over, you know he’s gonna get you out of it.”
The Seminoles will send senior Mike McGee to the mound for Sunday’s series finale as FSU takes aim at its first three-game sweep of the Hurricanes on their home field since 2002.