June 5, 2010
NORWICH, Conn. – Tenth-ranked Florida State (44-17) turned in a stellar defensive effort and received some timely hitting Saturday evening inside Dodd Memorial Stadium to advance to the championship game of the NCAA Norwich Regional defeating Oregon (39-23) 6-4. The Seminoles will wait to face the winner of the Connecticut/Oregon game on Sunday, June 6 at 6:30 p.m.
Six of the nine hits registered by the Seminoles on Saturday went for extra bases including solo home runs off the bat of Sherman Johnson and Stephen Cardullo, while four of the six runs scored in the victory over the Ducks came on two outs.
Sean Gilmartin (8-7) turned in a beautiful performance on the mound and was the beneficiary of an outstanding effort turned in by the Seminole defense which turned three double plays and did not make an error.
“Sean did everything he could to win the game,” said Rafael Lopez. “He did everything right; located when he needed to and we stuck with that change up and it worked well. Sean did a great job tonight.”
After giving up a solo home run in the first inning to Oregon’s Jack Marder, Gilmartin did not allow a runner passed second base before departing with two runners on and no outs in the eighth. The sophomore southpaw gave up three runs on 10 hits as eight of those 10 hits were singles. Gilmartin walked just one and struck out eight Duck batters.
“Tonight, getting ahead was a pretty big part of the success I had tonight,” said Gilmartin. “Getting ahead early in the count, getting that first guy out to leadoff the inning definitely helped. I was really able to spot the fastball inside, outside tonight and was able to change speeds real well to keep guys off balanced.”
“The defensive did a great job behind me,” added Gilmartin. “That’s all you can ask for; I was able to get the opposing team to hit balls on the ground and the defense behind me did the rest of the work. They really stepped up tonight.”
Geoff Parker and McGee each pitched an inning in relief on Saturday. McGee worked the ninth to earn his 10th save of the season.
With the win, Florida State improved to 28-13 all-time when facing a team for the first time in postseason play, while moving to 18-10 on the road in the NCAA Regionals. The win was also the fourth straight by the Seminoles over a George Horton led squad.
Oregon went on top early on a solo home run off the bat of Marder in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead. The freshman first baseman turned on a 1-2 pitch from Gilmartin sending it out of the park to left for his fifth home run of the season.
Florida State answered right back to tie the game at one without registering a hit in the top of the second. Cardullo reached on a throwing error by Oregon’s KC Serna at shortstop and moved to second on a passed ball. After a walk to Stuart Tapley, Cardullo advanced to third as he stole his 19th base of the season. The senior shortstop would score a batter later on a sac-fly by Jayce Boyd. After getting down early in the count at 1-2 to Oregon starter Tyler Anderson (7-5), Boyd fouled off five consecutive pitches before taking a ball. On the very next pitch, the freshman first baseman sent a deep fly ball to the warning track in right scoring Cardullo from third to tie the game at one.
Gilmartin sandwiched a pair of strikeouts in between a two-out single by J.J. Altobelli to keep the game tied at one in the bottom of the inning.
The Seminoles grabbed their first lead of the game after stringing together back-to-back two-out doubles by Johnson and McGee. Johnson started the two-out rally lacing a double down the right field foul line followed by a double down the right field line by McGee giving FSU a 2-1 lead.
Serna reached on a one-out single off Gilmartin in the bottom of the third, but was quickly erased from the base paths as the sophomore southpaw got Danny Pulfer to ground into an inning ending double play on the very next pitch to close out the third.
The Seminoles extended their lead on another key two-out hit in the fourth. With Tapley and Travis aboard following a walk and a single, respectively, Lopez went opposite field on a 2-2 pitch from Anderson drilling a double over the head of Duck left fielder Marcus Piazzisi to give the Garnet and Gold a 4-1 lead.
“It was a slider, curve ball away which he had thrown twice before,” said Lopez. “I was looking for that pitch and if he threw fastball I was just going to react. I saw it and just happened to hit it well and got two runs for our team.”
After Gilmartin recording consecutive strikeouts to start the inning, the Ducks put together back-to-back base hits by Shawn Peterson and Steven Packard. But the Moorpark, Calif., native got out of the inning unscathed thanks in large part to a great defensive play by Travis at second. Altobelli hit a sharp grounder to second that Travis got in front of to knock the ball down. The ball squirted away from Travis but not too far for the freshman to pick up the ball and dive to tag the bag at second with the ball in his hand for the final out of the inning.
Oregon threatened putting a pair of runners on in the bottom of the fifth after an opposite field single by Andrew Mendenhall and a one out walk to Serna. But Gilmartin got Pulfer to ground into an inning ending double play for the second straight at-bat to close out the inning. On a 1-0 pitch from Gilmartin, Pulfer hit a one bouncer back to the mound that the lefty calmly fielded, threw on to Travis at second, who relayed over to Boyd at first to complete the double play.
Cardullo gave the Noles a four-run advantage with one swing of the bat in the sixth. The Coral Springs, Fla., native led off the inning taking a 1-0 pitch from Anderson over the wall in left for his ninth home run of the season and a 5-1 Florida State lead.
Johnson added to the Florida State lead with a solo home run in the seventh to give the Seminoles a 6-1 advantage. The sophomore second baseman deposited a two-out, 3-1 pitch from Anderson out of the park to right center for his seventh round tripper of the season.
A leadoff single by Oregon’s Packard went to no avail in the bottom of the seventh as the Seminoles forced the Ducks to ground into their third double play of the game. On a 3-2 pitch and with the runner going, Altobelli hit a groundball to short that Cardullo flipped on to Travis, who threw over to Boyd for two quick outs. On the very next pitch, Mendenhall hit a double to right center. The freshman left fielder would be stranded at second as Gilmartin got pinch hitter Paul Eshleman swinging on strikes for the final out of the inning.
The Ducks would not go away quietly as the first two batters to the plate in the bottom of the eighth reached on singles by Serna and Pulfer. Martin went to the bullpen with no body out bringing on Geoff Parker.
Parker got the first batter out on an infield fly out to short. Oregon then followed with three consecutive RBI singles by Eddie Rodriguez, pinch hitter Mitch Karraker and Packard to cut the FSU lead to 6-4. Parker retired the next two batters to keep the Seminole lead in tact as he got a great defensive play by Johnson at third to force Altobelli into a groundout and then followed that play by striking out Mendenhall for the final out of the inning.
“My first reaction when I saw the ball was to go get it,” said Johnson. “I didn’t know how far I was (ranging to my left) but I knew it was slow and I knew the grass would slow it down. I didn’t know where Cardullo was playing; I just went after the ball and was fortunate enough to get the out.”
The Seminoles missed a golden opportunity to add their lead in the ninth as Travis led off the inning ripping a triple to the gap in left center off Oregon relief pitcher Drew Gagnier. After a walk to Lopez, Tyler Holt hit into a fielder’s choice resulting in a putout of Travis on the play. Both runners advanced to second and third as result of the putout. Gagnier took care of the final two outs recording back-to-back strikeouts to get the Oregon deficit at two.
Oregon would not go quietly in the ninth. After McGee struck out Curtis Raulinaitis to start the inning, the next two Duck batters reached as Serna registered a base hit up the middle followed by a walk to Pulfer. McGee would settled down to get the final two outs forcing Marder to pop into an infield fly at short and then Rodriguez into a fielder’s choice groundout to third for the final out of the game. The save for McGee was his 10th in 11 chances this year.
Florida State will return to the diamond on Sunday, June 6 at 6:30 p.m., as the Seminoles will take on the winner of Connecticut and Oregon in the championship game of the NCAA Norwich Regional. The game will be broadcast live on FS Florida, while fans can listen in locally on 100.7 FM and Seminoles.com. Live stats will be available via gametracker.