March 12, 2011 - by
Two Out Thunder

March 12, 2011

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By Bob Thomas,

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Through 15 games the fifth-ranked Florida State baseball team has established a stubborn streak at the plate, which continues to serve the Seminoles well.

The Seminoles scored 11 runs with two outs Saturday night, continuing a season-long trend, in their 15-6 victory over Boston College.

Sherman Johnson, Rafael Lopez and Taiwan Easterling each knocked out three hits as the Seminoles battered an overly-generous BC pitching staff for 15 hits on top of 13 walks. FSU’s first nine runs came across with two outs in the book, including all six in a second inning that shaped the longest game of the season.

Only several hundred die-hards from the crowd of the 5,010 hung around for finish of the 3 ½-hour affair as five BC pitchers combined to offer up 224 pitches – only 114 for strikes.

“We were in the third inning and felt like we’ve been out there for four hours,” said Johnson, who went 3-for-4 with three RBI. “It definitely felt like a marathon out there.”

The lengthy time in the dugout did nothing to help FSU starter Brian Busch, who was saddled with his third no decision in four starts. Busch surrendered 10 hits – all singles – and left after 4.1 innings with the Seminoles leading 11-6.

FSU’s bullpen delivered another sterling performance as Mack Waugh, Robert Benincasa and David Trexler combined for 4.2 innings of three-hit shutout work. Waugh (1-1) picked up the win with 2.2 innings of two-hit relief of Busch, striking out a pair.

“Mack pitched very well,” said FSU coach Mike Martin. “He pitched and that’s what we’ve got to do – get those guys opportunities.”

Benincasa surrendered a single in the eighth but struck out two, before turning things over to Trexler in the ninth. The lanky right-hander needed only 11 pitches to sit down three Eagle pinch-hitters in order on strikes, including three knee-buckling curves as out pitches.

“David has shown signs of having very good stuff,” Martin said. “What he’s got to do is get experience and be able to go out there and repeat it. … He’s waiting in the wings to get his chance.”

The Seminoles – who got the leadoff batter aboard in all eight innings – didn’t wait too long to get after BC starter Nate Bayuk. After leaving the bases loaded in the first, FSU used a walk, a hit batter and Easterling’s sacrifice bunt to set the table. Johnson’s two-run double to right got the `Noles on the board. Mike McGee and James Ramsey followed with RBI singles and doubles, respectively, before Jayce Boyd legged out an infield single. Lopez followed with an RBI double – which chased Bayuk – and Boyd closed out the scoring, coming home on a Eric Stevens wild pitch.

Boston College countered with a pair of runs in the third, which were neutralized by FSU’s three-run home half of the frame. Johnson rapped his second RBI double of the game – one of a season-high six doubles by the `Noles.

Johnson’s big night came after some extra work in the batting cage, where he picked up on – and corrected – a flaw in his swing.

Ramsey tacked on a two-out, two-run single to right for a 9-2 lead that was never seriously threatened. FSU added two runs in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings as they came within one run and one hit of matching their season-high production in both categories.

Martin was pleased to see Johnson, Lopez and Easterling – who batted second, sixth and ninth in the order – come through and provide some balance to the Seminoles’ attack.

“Sherman had some very good swings, at-bats,” Martin said. “Raffy has hit the ball pretty hard most of the year and hasn’t had an awful lot to show for it, but certainly tonight he had some big hits.”

So did Easterling, who is 7-for-15 (.467) at the plate as a starter.

“I’m glad to see him [Easterling] getting a chance,” Martin said. “He’s earning it. Seth Miller and he are working themselves into a nice little platoon situation in left field.”

“It’s real comfortable when I’m out there in the field,” said Easterling, who enjoyed the first three-hit game of his career. “Just being active in the game helps out a lot, because I come to the plate and already relaxed.

“It’s coming together but I’ve still got some work to do, but I’ve been feeling really good of late and just trying to help the team out any way I can.”

The Seminoles, who have won 21 consecutive Sunday games dating to the 2009 NCAA Regional playoff win over Ohio State, will send right-hander Scott Sitz (2-0, 1.65) to the mound in an attempt to close out the sweep. Boston College will counter with right-hander John Leonard (2-1, 2.75) in the game set for 1 p.m.

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