June 11, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Twelfth-ranked Florida State (46-17) opened the Tallahassee Super Regional in walk-off fashion Friday afternoon thanks in large part to Mike McGee’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Seminoles a 9-8 victory over No. 17 Vanderbilt (45-19) in game one of a best-of-three games series.
With two outs and the game tied at eight in the bottom of the ninth, McGee stepped in and took a 0-1 pitch from Vanderbilt’s Chase Reid (4-2) over the fence in right center for his third game-winning hit of the season and second walk-off home run. It marked his third career walk-off home run, while the Port St. Lucie, Fla., has had the deciding hit in three of FSU’s four walk-off victories this year.
“I was just trying to get on base any way I could,” said McGee. “He threw the first pitch right there and I took it. Then I happened to get another pitch that was good enough to hit and I really just tried to drive it and luckily I just got it up in the air and the ball was carrying pretty well today and I was able to get it out. He (Reid) had a really good curve ball and he was throwing it to everyone today; I really didn’t think I was going to get much to hit. I figured it was going to be a rough at-bat. I just got lucky and got a pitch to hit.”
The win was just the third for the Seminoles in the opening round game of the Super Regionals and first since defeating Miami 9-2 back in 2000.
Five Seminoles finished with at least two hits in game one as Jayce Boyd led the FSU offensive attack going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. After singling in his first two at-bats in the second and third innings, Boyd gave the Noles life in the eighth as he belted a solo home run to left off Reid to tie the game at eight paving the way for McGee’s heroics in the ninth.
Making his third appearance in the last four games, Daniel Bennett came out of the bullpen and once again factored in the decision as he worked 2.0 scoreless innings to move to 5-1 on the year. Bennett allowed just one hit and did not issue a walk as he struck out three.
“Not really,” said Bennett on being nervous to start the ninth inning. “We knew we had a big lefty coming up first and I had to be careful with him — don’t really give him anything to put a good swing on. After I got that out I got a lot of confidence. I just tried to let them put the ball in play and have our defense make plays. I was trying to be myself, that’s basically what my game plan was.”
Florida State jumped out to an early 6-0 lead after just two innings to only see it slowly vanish by a Vanderbilt team that scored runs in five straight innings between the fourth and eighth innings. The Commodores took the lead for the first time on Friday on a solo home run by Jason Esposito in the seventh.
“I think Vanderbilt showed what they are all about today when we go up 6-0 and certainly we knew there was a lot of baseball left,” said head coach Mike Martin. “They really showed what they’re about by coming back and not only tying the game but going ahead. It was a clear display of fight on their part and certainly I was pleased with the fight in our guys when we fell behind to not feel sorry for ourselves and turned around and got some key hits. It was a heck of a ball game. No errors. If you like high scoring games I guess you liked that one.
After the Noles tied it up in the bottom half of the inning on a sac-fly by Ramsey, Vanderbilt went on top for the second time on Friday on a solo home run off the bat of Mike Yastrzemski in the eighth. The son of former Seminole outfielder Mike Yastrzemski (1980-83), the Commodore left fielder took a 0-1 pitch from Geoff Parker over the fence in right for his third round tripper of the season.
Both starting pitchers did not factor in the decision on Friday afternoon. FSU’s Sean Gilmartin went 4.2 innings allowing four runs on 10 hits as he walked one and struck out four. After not allowing a run through the first three innings, the Commodores broke through with four runs over the next 1.2 innings off the sophomore southpaw.
Vandy’s Taylor Hill was roughed up for six runs in the first two innings before settling down and not allowing a runner passed first base over the next three innings. After giving up a two-run home run to Johnson in the second, Hill retired 11 of the next 12 batters that he faced including seven straight before issuing a walk to Stuart Tapley to start the bottom of the sixth.
Florida State ran out to the early lead on Friday afternoon scoring two runs in the bottom of the first. Holt led things off with an infield single to short and moved to second as McGee drew a one-out walk. Ramsey drove in the game’s first run plating Holt from second on a base hit through the right side. With runners at the corners, Stephen Cardullo registered the second run of the inning scoring McGee on a sac-fly to center.
The Commodores registered their first hit of the game in the top of the second as Curt Casali lined a base hit to right center just beyond the outstretched glove of Travis. But he was erased from the base paths just three pitches later as Gilmartin got Andrew Giobbi to ground into an inning ending double play.
The Seminoles added to their lead with four more runs in the second to take a 6-0 advantage. Boyd and Travis opened the inning with back-to-back singles and moved 90 feet on a sac-bunt by Rafael Lopez. All four runs came on the next two pitches as Holt lined a double off the fence in right center scoring Boyd and Travis. Johnson followed taking the first pitch from Hill over the fence in right for his ninth home-run of the season and a 6-0 Florida State lead. It was the third straight game in which Johnson has homered.
Gilmartin recorded consecutive strikeouts to start the top of the third but found himself in trouble as Vanderbilt loaded the bases on a double off the fence in right center by Connor Harrell, an infield single by Brian Harris and a walk to Anthony Gomez. After a visit to the mound by Martin, Gilmartin got Aaron Westlake to pop up to Cardullo at short for the final out of the inning.
Vanderbilt got on the board in the fourth on a solo shot by Casali. The Commodore designated hitter took the first pitch from Gilmartin over the fence in right for his eighth home run of the season and second hit of the afternoon. Vandy kept the pressure on putting runners at the corners with one out as Giobbi doubled to center and Loftus singled to right. But Gilmartin once again got an inning ending double play to keep the Seminole lead at 6-1 as Yastrzemski hit a groundball to Boyd at first, who turned the 3-6-3 double play.
The Commodores strung together four consecutive two-out hits in the fifth to cut the Seminole lead to 6-4. After singles by Gomez and Westlake, Esposito hammered a 3-2 pitch from Gilmartin with the runners moving to center for a two-run double. Casali followed with his third hit in as many at-bats lacing an RBI double down the left field line to bring Vanderbilt within two. The hit ended the afternoon for Gilmartin after 4.2 innings of work.
Geoff Parker came in out of the bullpen and got Giobbi to hit a soft grounder back toward the mound for the final out of the inning.
The Commodores continued to chip away at the lead adding two more runs in the sixth off Parker to even the game at six runs apiece. Joe Loftus led off the inning with a solo shot to right. The sophomore right fielder took a 0-2 offering from Parker over the fence in right for his eighth home run of the season. Yastrzemski followed with a double to straight away center as Holt misjudged the ball taking his first step in before retreating back to the wall. Parker than recorded a strikeout of Harrell and got Harris to fly out to Travis in foul ground. But Gomez would tie the game dropping a bloop single to right to erase FSU’s six-run lead.
Tapley drew a walk from Hill to leadoff the bottom of the sixth prompting a Vanderbilt pitching change. Richie Goodenow entered out of the pen and on the first offering from the junior southpaw, Boyd connected on a hard hit ball to the left of third base that Esposito came through with a fantastic diving catch. He immediately got to his feet and threw over to first to double up Tapley.
Vanderbilt grabbed its first lead of the game in the seventh as Esposito lead off the inning with a solo shot to left center. The home run was his 11th of the season to give the Commodores a 7-6 lead.
The Seminoles answered right back with a run in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 7-7. Johnson and McGee put together back-to-back singles and moved up a base on a wild pitch by Goodenow with Ramsey at the plate. On the very next pitch, the Seminole right fielder tied the game sending a sac-fly to center to score Johnson from third.
The tie was short lived as Vanderbilt regained the lead on its fourth home run of the afternoon. On a 0-1 pitch from Parker, Yastrzemski smacked his third home run of the season over the right field fence to give the Commodores an 8-7 lead.
Parker would leave after 2.1 innings giving way to Bennett. Parker was charged with four runs on five hits as he did not walk a batter and struck out three. The junior right hander also gave up three home runs.
Florida State and Vanderbilt will square-off in game two of the Tallahassee Super Regional on Saturday, June 12 with first pitch set for 1:00 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN, while fans can listen in locally at 100.7 FM and Seminoles.com. Live stats will be available via gametracker.