TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Second-ranked Florida State (31-7, 17-2 ACC) cruised to an 11-2 victory against No. 11 Miami (26-12, 12-7 ACC) in the opener of a three-game conference series on Friday night on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
The Seminoles held a two-run lead after the fourth inning but broke the game open with three runs in the fifth and five more in the seventh to register the most run in the series since FSU posted a 14-4 victory in Miami back on April 3, 2009. It was the most runs put up against the Hurricanes in Tallahassee since a 16-1 victory in 2006.
“I was very proud of the way we played the game,” FSU head coach Mike Martin said. “It was a surprise that the game ended this way, but I assure you [Saturday] will be different. That is the nature of this game, you can’t get up, you can’t get down.
The top three hitters in the Florida State line-up went 7-for-13 with four runs scored, two RBIs and two walks. Sherman Johnson led all players on Friday night with his first three-hit game of the season. The senior third baseman finished 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs, as all three hits were doubles. Johnson is the first Seminole to hit three doubles in a game since Mike McGee recorded three against Alabama in the NCAA Tallahassee Regional in June of 2011.
“I don’t know what he ate for lunch, but we all need to eat it,” Martin said of Sherman’s performance Friday night. “He smoked those balls. I was just very pleased with the way the entire game was played by everyone.”
Devon Travis and James Ramsey both registered two hits apiece in the win.
Four Seminoles finished with multiple RBIs including Justin Gonzalez who went 2-for-4 with three runs driven in. The junior shortstop left the yard twice on Friday night including a monster two-run home run that landed in the second row of the parking lot in left field. It marked the first multi-home run game for a Seminole this year and the first since Stuart Tapley hit two against Texas A&M in game two of the 2011 Super Regional in Tallahassee.
“I am very, very proud of him,” Martin said of Gonzalez. “He’s a guy that has never carried his bat out to his position. He’s always in the game. He’s just such a big part of this ball club.”
“It was pretty special,” said Gonzalez on his offensive explosion against the hometown team. “I love playing against these guys. When Miami comes to town it is always an exciting game. To be able to come out like that and put in some good swings felt pretty good.”
Stephen McGee and Jose Brizuela added two RBIs each for the Seminoles.
Brandon Leibrandt got all the run support he would need after the third when the Seminoles took the lead for good at 2-1. The freshman southpaw allowed just one run on two hits as he walked two and struck out three in 5.0 innings of work to improve to 4-1 on the year.
“He battled out there,” Martin added. “He showed a lot of composure as he didn’t have his best stuff. He struggled with the change-up but was able to get by as he was able to spot his fastball. Leibrandt showed what he was all about to get the job done.”
After recording two quick outs in the first, Leibrandt found himself in a jam as the next three Hurricane batters reached on a pair of walks and catcher’s interference. But he kept the Hurricanes off the scoreboard getting Rony Rodriguez to fly out to right for the third out of the inning.
The only run for the Hurricanes off Leibrandt came in the third when Tyler Palmer led off the inning with a double down the line in left and scored two batters later on a sac-fly to right off the bat of Chantz Mack.
Leibrandt allowed just one runner to reach base over the final 10 batters that he faced before giving way to Hunter Scantling in the top of the sixth.
“I didn’t feel like I had my best stuff,” Leibrandt said. “I usually come out there and have my change-up, but luckily I still had my fastball command tonight and was able to make enough pitches to get me through five innings.”
Scantling and Bryant Holtmann both registered two innings in relief in game one. Scantling faced the minimum as he walked two but induced a pair of groundball double plays in the sixth and seventh innings.
Holtmann allowed an unearned run in the ninth on three hits as he struck out three and did not walk a batter.
The Seminoles wasted very little time getting on the scoreboard against Miami starter Eric Erickson on Friday night plating a run on three hits in the first. Johnson, Travis and Ramsey all picked up hits to start the inning on a double, single and single, respectively. After Erickson got Jayce Boyd to pop up to the catcher in foul territory, McGee brought home Johnson for the first run of the game on a fielder’s choice groundout to short.
Ramsey went in with a hard slide at second base to break up would could have been an inning ending double play as the throw from second baseman Jarred Mederos carried Esteban Tresgallo off the bag at first.
After the Hurricanes tied the game at one in the third, the Seminoles responded with a run of their own compliments of a fielding error by the Hurricanes. Johnson opened the inning with a double to the gap in left center and scored when Travis single to left and leftfielder Chantz Mack could not field the ball cleanly.
Gonzalez pushed FSU’s lead to 3-1 in the fourth when he connected on a 0-1 pitch from Erickson for his first home run of the night.
Florida State broke the game open with a three spot in the fifth. Ramsey drew a one-out walk and scored on an RBI double to straight away center by Boyd. After Boyd stole third, McGee brought him home on a well-executed bunt single to the pitcher. McGee would score the third run of the inning on an RBI single back up the middle by Brizuela.
The Seminoles put the game out of reach in the seventh with five more runs to take a commanding 11-1 lead. Ramsey and Boyd drew back-to-back walks to open the inning of relievers Christian Diaz and Alex San Juan. Brizuela drove in his second run of the game plating Ramsey on a sac-fly to center.
Two pitches later, Gonzalez would clear the bases for the second time Friday night as he hammered a two-run shot out of the stadium to left.
Johnson would add his third double of the game later that inning to drive home John Holland and Seth Miller as the Seminoles took a 10-run advantage after the seventh. Holland recorded a pinch hit double to left, while Miller was hit by a pitch.
Erickson (6-4) suffered the loss Friday night as the senior left hander allowed six runs on nine hits in 5.0 innings of work. It marked the first loss for Erickson against the Seminoles in seven career starts.
“Eric Erickson is one of the top pitchers in our game,” Martin said. “For us to hit him early was a surprise. He is poised; he has three pitches that he can all throw for strikes and he works both sides of the plate. He is the real deal. It just happened to be our night.”