May 20, 2011 - by
Comeback Denied

May 20, 2011

Box Score

By Bob Thomas,

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Battling back from a seven-run deficit, Mike Martin’s fourth-ranked Florida State baseball team got the tying run to the plate in the ninth against Clemson.

Despite the Seminoles’ show of fortitude and resiliency, Clemson made off with a 7-4 victory that will set up Saturday’s regular season finale at Dick Howser Stadium with a series and perhaps a top-eight NCAA national seed on the line.

“With the pitching they’ve got, you’ve certainly dug yourselves a deep grave,” said Martin, whose team trailed 7-0 heading into the home fifth. “You’re disappointed, but at the same time you’re pleased the way the guys fought back. We had a chance to tie it up in the ninth.”

Florida State (40-14, 19-10 ACC) pecked away with a pair of runs in the sixth and eight innings, but came up short when senior Mike McGee flied out to center with two runners on to end the game.

“We showed some fight and we stayed in the game,” said McGee, whose solo homer in the eighth – his 10th of the season – helped chip away at the deficit. “That’s good to know that we have that in the postseason.

“We get the tying run to the plate and that’s all you can ask for.”

Clemson (38-17, 16-13) got off to a fast start one night after the Seminoles secured the ACC Atlantic Division title with an 8-6 victory. The Tigers got a solo homer from Chris Epps in the second off FSU starter Robert Benincasa, then stacked on four runs in the third.

The Tigers rapped out five hits in the third, including an RBI tripled that caromed off a fence pole in right center, a single to left that which was misplayed into a run-scoring play and an infield single off Benincasa’s glove.

FSU couldn’t buy a break early. The `Noles squandered a pair of one-out hits in the second when Clemson center fielder ran down a Stuart Tapley drive at the wall in dead-center. An inning later, Seth Miller, Rafael Lopez and Sherman Johnson all lined out on well-hit balls into the outfield.

“It was one of those days,” McGee said. “That was frustrating, though.”

The Tigers tacked on two more in the fifth off Hunter Scantling, who yielded a two-run homer to Will Lamb.

By the time the `Noles solved Clemson starter Justin Sarratt (7-1) in the home sixth, they were chasing a big lead. They scratched across two runs when Lopez was hit by a pitch, Johnson singled to right and McGee walked. Ramsey went down swinging with the bases loaded before Jayce Boyd’s RBI single to left put the `Noles on the board and ended Sarratt’s night.

Clemson reliever Kevin Brady balked home a run, but struck out Justin Gonzalez and Parker Brunelle to deny the `Noles a potentially big inning.

FSU relievers Tyler Everett, Robby Scott, Tye Buckley, Adam Simmons and Scott Sitz combined for 4.2 innings of three-hit shutout relief to keep the home team in the game.

McGee’s homer in the eighth and Boyd’s RBI cut Clemson’s lead to 7-4.

“That’s something we take pride in … getting it done, even when we’re down, because a good team battles,” said Boyd, who was 3-for-5 with two RBI. “That’s what we did. We had a chance to come back in this game and it just didn’t happen for us.”

The Seminoles will close out the regular season at home Saturday at 1 p.m., recognizing the 10 seniors in a pregame ceremony. McGee (2-2) will take the mound for the `Noles, who have won their last five weekend series.

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