GREENSBORO, N.C. - Clemson's Jon McGibbon hit a walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to give fifth-seeded Clemson (33-25) a 9-7 victory over top-seeded Florida State (43-14) Friday afternoon inside NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, N.C. With the loss, the Seminoles fell to 0-2 in pool `A' play of the 2012 ACC Tournament, while Clemson moved to 1-1.
The Tigers scored five runs over the last two innings after trailing by as many as three at 7-4 after the top of the eighth. Spencer Kieboom brought Clemson within one of the lead with a two-run single in the bottom of the eighth. Robert Benincasa (4-1) retired the next two batters in the inning to keep FSU's one-run lead intact.
Benincasa returned to the mound to pitch the bottom of the ninth and got off to a good start striking out Richie Shaffer for the first out of the inning. The Tigers then strung together three consecutive hits including McGibbon's three-run home run that just cleared the wall in right center to end the game.
Florida State suffered its first loss when leading after eight (38-1), while it marked the first loss for Benincasa on the year.
Before the start of Friday's game, Florida State had already been eliminated from advancing to play in the conference championship game as Georgia Tech defeated Virginia 17-5 in seven innings earlier in the day. After falling to the Yellow Jackets on Wednesday, the Seminoles needed to win out and have Virginia beat Georgia Tech to reach the finals.
Jayce Boyd paced the Seminole offense on Friday going 3-for-5 with three singles. James Ramsey, Justin Gonzalez and Jose Brizuela all recorded two hits apiece. Gonzalez connected on his eighth home run of the season in the fifth, while Devon Travis had the other extra base hit on an RBI double in the third.
Ramsey and Gonzalez both drove in two runs each, while Travis scored twice.
Brandon Leibrandt did not factor into the decision as he worked 6.2 innings allowing four runs, two earned, on five hits. It marked his third longest outing of the season as the freshman left hander walked two and struck out three.
Clemson did not record a hit of Leibrandt until the fourth as four of the five hits allowed during his 6.2 innings went for doubles.
The Seminole squandered a golden opportunity to score first on Friday leaving two stranded in the second. Boyd led off the inning with a single up the middle and moved to second on a sac-bunt by Stephen McGee. After Gonzalez drew a one-out walk, Clemson starter Dominic Leone retired the next two Florida State batters on a fly out and a strikeout.
Clemson took advantage of a Seminole error in the bottom of the second to grab an early 1-0 lead. Jason Stolz drew a two-out walk from Leibrandt, stole second and scored the first run of the game on errant throw by Travis on a groundball off the bat of Brad Felder.
The Tiger lead was short lived as Florida State responded with four runs in the top of the third as the Seminoles sent nine batters to the plate and knocked out Leone from the game. Brizuela opened the inning with a single to left center and advanced to second on a groundout by Sherman Johnson. FSU then strung together three consecutive hits including an RBI double by Travis and a run scoring single by Ramsey. Boyd and McGee followed with a single and walk, respectively, to load the bases for Gonzalez. The junior shortstop would come through with an RBI single on the very first pitch from Leone to score Ramsey and give the Seminoles a 3-1 advantage. Boyd scored the fourth run of the inning when Tiger relief pitcher Kevin Brady was charged with a balk on his first offering of the game.
Leone would last just 2.1 innings on Friday as the junior right hander was charged with four runs on six hits as he walked two and struck out two.
The Seminoles threatened to add more in the fourth but left the bases loaded to keep the score at 4-1. Brizuela led off the inning with a bunt single to third, while Johnson and Ramsey both drew walks. Brady and Boyd would battle in a long at-bat before the Clemson pitcher got the Seminole first baseman to fly out in foul territory at third on the ninth pitch of the at-bat for the second out. Brady would get out of the inning on the very next pitch as McGee grounded out to second to retire the side.
Florida State finished the game leaving 10 runners on base including seven in the first four innings.
Clemson cut into the Florida State lead with a run in the fourth to make the score 4-2. The Tigers registered their first two hits off Leibrandt in the game on a pair of doubles. Phil Pohl led off the inning stinging a double to straight away center and scored two batters later on an RBI double down the line in right by McGibbon.
The Seminoles got the run back in the top of the fifth on a solo home run by Gonzalez to extend their lead back to three at 5-2. The junior shortstop hammered a 3-2 offering from David Haselden out of the park and into the streets beyond the right field wall for his eighth home run of the season.
Clemson came right back with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to draw within one at 5-4. Leibrandt looked as if he was on his way to a quick inning recording the first two outs on just two pitches. But Thomas Brittle kept the inning going with a double to right. He scored a batter later as Richie Shaffer dropped a bloop double to short right away from the shift to score the first Tiger run of the inning. Clemson added one more when Gonzalez could not handle a groundball off the bat of Phil Pohl allowing Shaffer to score from second.
The Tigers had the tying run at second with two outs in the seventh, but Gage Smith got the Seminoles out of the jam getting Pohl swinging on strikes to end the inning.
The Seminoles added to their lead in the eighth pushing across two more runs to extend their lead to 7-4. Both runs came on two outs as the rally began when Johnson and Travis drew back-to-back walks off Haselden. Ramsey hit a ringing single off the wall in right to plate Johnson and advance Travis to third. Boyd followed with an RBI single to give the Seminoles a three-run cushion.
Clemson's Patrick Andrews (2-3) picked up the win as he worked 1.1 scoreless innings retiring all four batters that he faced.
Florida State will return to the diamond to face fourth-seeded Virginia on Saturday, May 26 at 3:00 p.m. The game will broadcast live on the Regional Sports Network and in Florida on Sun Sports. Fan can listen to the game locally on 100.7 FM and over the internet on Seminoles.com. Live stats will be available via gametracker, while fans can always receive in-game updates on Twitter @FSU_Baseball.
Every game of the ACC Tournament will also be live-streamed via the Internet by ESPN3. In addition, Sirius 94 will broadcast Saturday's game live via satellite radio, and every game with exception of the Wednesday and Friday 7:00 p.m. games will also be broadcast live via satellite radio on XM 190.
For further information, visit: www.seminoles.com