College Park, MD - No. 5 Florida State (17-1, 4-1 ACC) overcame three errors and an early three-run deficit to even the series against Maryland (12-6, 2-3 ACC) with a 7-6 victory Saturday afternoon inside Turtle Smith Stadium.
Trailing 4-1 after the first three innings in game two, the Seminoles rallied for two runs in the fourth and four more in the sixth to take a 7-4. But an error by Florida State in the seventh and ninth innings led to a run in each inning opening the door for an exciting finish.
With Florida State ahead 7-5 entering the bottom of the ninth and Robby Coles on the mound looking for the save, Maryland quickly made noise putting the first two batters on following a single by Kyle Convissar and a walk to Kevin Martir. The Seminoles recorded their first out of the inning on a tough play by Giovanny Alfonzo, who made a nice play in the hole at short to field a groundball and throw out the runner at second. Coles then got Michael Montville to line out softly to Alfonzo for the second out. With runners still at the corners, pinch hitter Greg Olenski sent a sharp groundball to short that Alfonzo could not field cleanly allowing Convissar to score to keep the inning alive as the FSU lead dwindled to 7-6. But Coles responded and got the final out of the game to earn his third save of the season as Anthony Papio grounded out to John Sansone at second to end the game.
“It was a good win for us,” said head coach Mike Martin. “I was very pleased with the composure that we showed there at the end. It was a fun game; that’s what baseball is about, these are the types of games that are played every night in the Major Leagues, one-run ball games. Robby Coles did a great job of keeping the ball down to get the groundballs. We gave them a couple of extra chances, but he kept his poise and kept battling. He is a very impressive guy.”
The win for FSU snapped Maryland’s two-game win streak in the series while it marked the Terrapins first loss at home this year in 11 games (10-1).
“It showed great character on our part,” said Sansone. “It’s not easy to come to an away place, lose a game and then bounce back for a win especially after trailing early in the game.”
Maryland out hit Florida State for the second straight game as the Terps finished with an 11-10 edge on Saturday. All three Seminole errors proved costly in game two as five of the six runs that were scored by the Terrapins were unearned.
Scott Sitz (4-0) remained perfect on the year as the senior right hander allowed five runs, one earned, on a career-high 10 hits as he walked two and struck out three. The only earned run allowed by Sitz came in the third inning when Blake Schmit reached on a two-out infield single and scored on an RBI triple by Montville.
“We came out and got a run in the first inning which is always nice to get on the board first,” said Sitz. “But as a team, overall, we fought and just kept battling out there.”
Sitz, who threw 100 pitches on Saturday, had problems all afternoon closing out an inning as the Jacksonville Beach, Fla., native did not retire the side in order through his 6.2 innings recording the first two outs in an inning four times.
“I am thankful for the hitter’s today for having my back,” added Sitz. “I didn’t have my best stuff today. I was telling Steven (McGee) in the dugout, ‘I am going to have an inning where I don’t let a guy on.’ And somehow I kept letting a guy on. That’s mostly because I didn’t have any of my off speed stuff working today. I probably threw 90 percent fastballs. I just couldn’t figure my off speed stuff. Luckily I was able to get out of some jams when I needed to.”
Stephen McGee continued to swing a hot bat as the junior catcher finished with two hits including a solo home run which sparked the four-run sixth inning. John Nogowski went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Jose Brizuela and Sansone both drove in two runs to pace the Seminole offense in the win. Brizuela connected on a two-out, two-run double in the fourth to cut Maryland’s lead to 4-3. Then in the sixth, Sansone came through with what turned out to be the game-winning hit as the freshman second baseman laced a two-run single to left center to give FSU a 7-4 lead.
“First pitch he threw a high fastball and then a low slider,” said Sansone. “On the next pitch, he threw one right down the middle and I was able to put a good swing on it. It felt great to finally get a hit and help my team out.”
For the second time in as many games, the Seminoles ran out to the early lead plating a run in the top of the first to grab a 1-0 lead. Seth Miller registered his first triple of the season hitting a ball off the wall in right and scored a batter later on a sac-fly to left off the bat of DJ Stewart.
Maryland looked to answer right back in the bottom of the inning as the Terps put the first two runners on base off Sitz on a hit-by-pitch and a walk. But the Seminole right hander got K.J. Hockaday to ground into a double play at short and then Convissar to hit a grounder to Alfonzo at short to retire the side.
The Terps took advantage of a crucial throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt in the bottom of second to score three unearned runs to take a 3-1 lead. Papio tied the game at one with an RBI bunt single to first with the bases loaded. Maryland grabbed the lead with a sac-fly to right and LaMonte Wade followed with a two-out RBI single to left.
Maryland added to its lead in the third on a two-out RBI triple by Montville. With Schmit on first after an infield single to short, Montville stepped in and on the second offering from Sitz sent a long fly ball to the gap in right center that fell just beyond the out stretched arms of Josh Delph in right. Schmit scored to give Maryland a 4-1 lead.
The Noles cut the deficit to 4-3 on a key two-out double by Brizuela to plate a pair in the top of the fourth. Marcus Davis began the two-out rally drawing a four-pitch walk and moved to second on a single up the middle by Nogowski. After a meeting at the mound by the Terrapins, Brizuela stepped in and took the first pitch he saw from Kirkpatrick to the opposite field just inside the left field foul line for a two-run double.
Maryland looked to add to its lead in the fifth putting runners at the corners with one out. Montville tried a safety squeeze but his bunt attempt went right back to the mound where Sitz fielded the ball cleanly and threw on to McGee at the plate to get Convissar for the second out of the inning. Sitz kept the Maryland lead at 4-3 as he got Jose Cuas to groundout to first to end the inning.
Florida State erupted for four runs in the top of the sixth to retake the lead for good at 7-4. McGee led off the inning with a solo shot to left depositing a 3-2 offering from Kirkpatrick out of the park to left for his third home run of the season. Davis and Nogowski followed with back-to-back doubles with both going down the line in right as Nogowski’s drove in Davis to give FSU a one-run lead. That would be the final pitch for Kirkpatrick as Maryland went to the bullpen and brought on Robert Galligan, who issued a four pitch walk to Brizuela.
For the second time in the inning, Maryland went to the pen and brought on Brandon Casas. After getting Alfonzo to fly out to right, a wild pitch by Casas moved both runners 90 feet. With the Maryland infield drawn in, Sansone laced a base hit to left center to plate a pair and give FSU a 7-4 lead.
“To get down by three and to stay tough, I was very pleased with the effort of our guys today,” added Martin.
Maryland cut into the Florida State lead in the seventh taking advantage of the Seminoles second error of the game. Sitz recorded the first two outs of the inning before the Terps strung together an infield single by Schmit and a double down the line in left by Montville.
At 100 pitches that would be the final batter for Sitz as Martin brought in Gage Smith. On the very first offering to Cuas, the Maryland second baseman hit a groundball to Alfonzo at short who threw high over to first allowing Schmit to score and make the score 7-5 in favor of FSU. That would be the only run for Maryland in the inning as Papio sent a deep fly ball to left but Davis was there for the catch to make the third out of the inning.
Kyle Bird worked a perfect eighth inning as the sophomore southpaw turned in the only 1-2-3 inning by a Seminole pitcher on Saturday. Bird registered a groundout, fly out and strikeout on 11 pitches.
Maryland’s Kirkpatrick (2-3) suffered the loss on Saturday as he allowed six runs on seven hits in 5.0 innings of work.
Florida State and Maryland will wrap-up the three game series on Sunday, March 17 at 1:00 p.m. Fans can listen to the game live on the All-Access player. Locally, fans can listen to the game on 100.7 FM. As always, Seminole fans can follow the Noles on twitter @FSU_Baseball and remember to like the Seminoles on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FSUBaseball). Live stats for all three games will be available via gametracker.