April 25, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the second day in a row, sixth-ranked Florida State (31-10, 14-7 ACC) used a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth to defeat No. 14 Miami (29-11, 15-6 ACC) 7-6 Sunday afternoon on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. With the win, the Seminoles captured their first series victory over the Hurricanes in Tallahassee since 2003, while Florida State remained perfect on Sunday’s this year moving to 10-0.
The 4,611 fans inside Howser Stadium could not have asked for a better ending than what they witnessed on Sunday afternoon. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the Noles trailing by one, Mike McGee took a 3-2 pitch from Miami reliever Taylor Wulf (0-1) and sent it over the fence in right center for a walk-off, two-run home run.
“That was a true indication of what baseball is all about,” said head coach Mike Martin. “It’s never over until the final out. I mean, we’re down to our last strike. Mike McGee – when he hit it, I did not think it was out. And normally, I’ve got an idea. I thought it had a chance to hit the screen. When it went out, I have to admit, I can’t tell you how excited I was because of the way the young men fought.”
“I thought he would be working away to me the whole time since that is how he has pitched to me every time I have faced him,” said McGee. “That inning he was working every body away, I was looking to stay closed and hit one to right field. He pitched really well that whole at-bat except for that one pitch which I was able to get a good swing on and hit it out of the park. He was hitting the corners and making it really hard for me.”
Parker Brunelle led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk from reliever Sam Robinson. Sean Gilmartin was called on to pinch run for Brunelle, while Miami went to the bullpen and brought on Wulf. The senior right hander entered and got Tyler Holt and Stephen Cardullo swinging on strikes and was one strike away from giving the Hurricanes the series victory, but McGee had other thoughts. On a 3-2 pitch, McGee unloaded on his third home run of the series and eighth career round tripper against the Hurricanes to lead the FSU to yet another come-from-behind victory over their in-state rival.
“When he went 3-2, I was pretty sure he did not want to walk me, you don’t want to put the tying run at second with Stu coming up,” said McGee. “I was figuring fastball and was looking away, so I was looking out there and that pitch just caught enough of the plate where I was able to get the barrel to it.”
“There was no doubting,” added Martin. “And we had a chance there early in the inning and Wulf made some good pitches, got a couple outs. It was McGee who went up there poised and I have to admit, guys, I didn’t see him run around the bases. I’ll have to look at that on tape.”
Even more impressive was the fact that McGee (3-0) also got the win as he blanked the Canes over 1.2 innings in relief. The junior right hander entered the game in a tough situation in the eighth with the bases loaded and only one out. McGee got the Seminoles out of the jam as he got Harold Martinez swinging on strikes and then Chris Pelaez to fly out to Jayce Boyd in foul territory for the third out.
“That was fun,” added McGee. “It felt pretty good and I was confident with what I was throwing. I didn’t get to go down to the bullpen today and I think that might have actually helped me. I just threw to Tyler out there; Tyler is a pretty good catcher, he made me look good out there.”
The hold by McGee was huge as the Noles were able to cut the deficit to 6-5 with a two-out run in the eighth. With Robinson on in relief of Travis Miller, the Hurricane southpaw got Sherman Johnson to fly out to right for the second out, but an errant throw on a pickoff attempt at first brought James Ramsey home all the way from second as the sophomore right fielder slid just ahead of the tag by Yasmani Grandal at the plate. With Boyd on at third following the error, Robinson got pinch hitter Justin Gonzalez to groundout to third for the final out of the inning.
McGee went back out on the hill in the ninth and retired the Hurricanes in order paving the way for the dramatic ninth inning.
Despite being out hit 12-6 in the rubber game of the series, it was the long ball that led the Noles to victory as four of the six hits left the yard on Sunday, while six of the seven runs were scored on balls leaving the ball park. Boyd, Johnson and Devon Travis joined McGee in the home run parade on Sunday. A total of eight home runs were hit in the series finale.
McGee and Boyd finished the game with two hits a piece, while McGee and Johnson each drove in a pair of runs.
Sunday’s game was a mirror image from Saturday’s come-from-behind victory as the Garnet and Gold erased a three-run deficit scoring one in the sixth, one in the eighth and then two more in the ninth. All three games this weekend were decided by one run.
“Last night was up there but now this takes the place of it,” said Boyd on where this victory matches up in his young career at Florida State. “To have this happen in back-to-back days is just awesome.”
With the win, the Seminoles assured themselves of at least a two-game lead in the Atlantic Division over second place Clemson and Boston College.
Miami went on top early for the third time in the series with three solo home runs in the top of the first off FSU starter Scott Sitz including back-to-back shots by Stephen Perez and Frankie Ratcliff to start the game. Grandal followed two batters later with a solo shot to left center to give the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead.
Sitz faced the minimum in the second despite giving up a single and a walk. The freshman right hander registered a key double play as he struck out Ryan Perry, while Brunelle threw out Nick Melendres trying to steal second. After issuing a walk to Zeke DeVoss, the Hurricane centerfielder was eliminated from the base paths as he was picked off at first by Sitz.
The Seminoles went yard twice in the bottom of the second to tie the game at three. Following a leadoff walk to Boyd, Johnson took UM starter Jason Santana out of the park to right on a 2-2 pitch for his fourth home run of the season and first since March 21. On the very next pitch from Santana, Travis crushed a home run to deep center, his second of the season, to bring the game even at 3-3.
The Hurricanes were eager to respond loading the bases with just one out off Seminole reliever John Gast. Gast struck out the first batter that he faced before giving up a single to Ratcliff and back-to-back walks to Scott Lawson and Grandal. But the junior southpaw was able to keep the tie intact as he got Martinez to ground into an ending inning double play.
Miami looked to threaten again in the fourth but were denied as Geoff Parker came out of the bullpen and sandwiched a walk between a pair of strikeouts. Gast once again struck out the first batter that he faced to leadoff the fourth, but then issued a walk to Melendres. An errant throw on a pickoff attempt moved Melendres all the way around to third. But he was left stranded at third thanks to two strikeouts by Parker.
Boyd led off the bottom of the fourth with a double off the fence in right center but was left stranded on the base paths as Santana retired the next three batters that he faced.
Miami went back on top for the second time on Sunday following consecutive two out doubles by Grandal and Martinez. Grandal short hopped the fence in left center, while Martinez brought him home on a double to the gap in right center. The Hurricanes looked to add to their lead on a base hit through the left side by Pelaez but Ramsey threw a one hopper to Brunelle at the plate to get Martinez trying to score from second for the final out of the inning.
Florida State left a pair of runners on in the fifth after Santana issued consecutive walks to Stephen Cardullo and McGee. The Hurricane right hander got Stuart Tapley to fly out to center, deep enough to advance both runners 90 feet, and then got Ramsey swinging on strikes to end the threat.
The Hurricanes pushed their lead to 6-3 on a two-run homer by DeVoss in the top of the sixth. DeVoss unloaded on a 1-0 pitch from Daniel Bennett taking it out of the park to right for his fifth home run of the season.
Miami looked to add to its lead loading the bases with two outs on a single by Ratcliff and a double by Scott Lawson, while Grandal was intentionally walked. Martin went to the bullpen and brought on Tyler Everett. Everett got Martinez to fly out to right in foul territory, but not before Ramsey made a great diving catch on the play for the final out of the inning.
The Noles answered with a run in the sixth on a solo home run by Boyd to cut the deficit to 6-4. The freshman first baseman took the second pitch from Santana out of the park to right center for his fourth home run of the season.
“It was two good baseball teams,” said Martin. “Rivalry, fan participation, and it’s a team that stays poised. I thought we showed great poise today. They are a battling bunch, I will tell you that.”
The Seminoles will have the mid-week off before returning to the diamond on Friday, May 1 as Florida State welcomes Le Moyne to Tallahassee for a three-game series.