Tallahassee, FL - No. 5 Florida State (22-2, 7-2 ACC) erased a four-run deficit scoring two runs in each of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to post an 8-6 victory over No. 11 Georgia Tech (18-5, 6-3 ACC) Sunday afternoon in the rubber game of the series on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
“It was just an outstanding win for this ball club,” said head coach Mike Martin. “You just can’t say enough about what a great job the bullpen did. Every single pitcher that went out there held the other club in check. They did a great job of keeping them right there for the next six innings; that’s exciting for us. It just goes to show you what a great job Mike Bell is doing with our pitchers.”
DJ Stewart helped complete the come-from-behind win as his two-run single in the bottom of the eighth broke a 6-6 tie to give the Seminoles their first lead of the afternoon. The freshman designated hitter finished the game 2-for-4 with a pair of singles, two RBI, a walk and a stolen base.
“DJ is beginning to understand each day what it takes to be successful,” said Martin. “He had some great at-bats all day long today.”
The win marked the second straight series victory for the Seminoles over the Yellow Jackets. FSU has now won 12 of its last 13 ACC series dating back to the start of the 2012 season.
“There are so many good teams in the ACC and certainly they are right up there at the top,” added Martin on getting the series victory over Georgia Tech. “We just know that we have to play extremely well in order to be successful and when you fall behind 5-0 in the rubber game, you find out a lot about the ball club. I think our guys showed today that they will fight you for 27 outs.”
Seth Miller tied a season-high with three RBI as the senior centerfielder was 2-for-2 with a single and a double, one walk and a sac-fly in the second. Miller’s two-out, two-run double in the seventh tied the game at six.
“Seth has been there and he understands the expectations of a center fielder at Florida State,” said Martin. “I am very, very proud of him tying the ball game up for us like he did.”
“We are a fighting team,” added Miller. “All we wanted to do was keep pecking away, getting a run here and getting run there.”
Georgia Tech ran out to an early lead on Sunday scoring five runs in the first two innings off FSU starter Peter Miller. The Yellow Jackets strung together three straight hits in the first as only one left the infield. On a check swing single by Daniel Palka, Miller threw wildly over to first plating Sam Dove for the first run of the game. Zane Evans made it 2-0 on his sac-fly to center.
In the second, the Jackets widened their lead to 5-0 on an RBI double by Kyle Wren and a two-run double by Dove ending the afternoon for Miller. The junior right hander would last just 1.1 innings allowing five runs, four earned, on seven hits while striking out two.
Georgia Tech would manage just one more run over the next seven innings as the Seminole bullpen did a fantastic job of keeping the Yellow Jacket bats at bay. Five Florida State pitchers combined to work the final 7.2 innings allowing just one run on four hits as they issued two walks and struck out 10.
“You have got to give credit to our bullpen, they came out and did a heck of a job today,” said Seth Miller. “We have a great pen and they showed that today.”
Bryant Holtmann relieved Miller with one in the second and got the Seminoles out of further damage recording a groundout and a strikeout. Holtmann finished the afternoon posting career-highs in innings pitched (3.1) and strikeouts (5). The only run and hits he gave up came in the fifth inning when Brandon Thomas doubled down the line in left and scored on a two-out RBI single by A.J. Murray.
, but I feel like we have a really good bullpen,” said Holtmann. “Getting a series victory is huge. They are a really good team. It’s a huge win and big confidence boost moving forward.
““They are a great hitting team,” said Holtmann. “When I came in, I knew I just had to hold them there and do the best I could to keep us in the ball game.”
“Bryant had a very good outing,” added Martin. “His cutter was working as well as I have seen it this year. He was getting in on their outstanding hitters.
“It was just a great job of pitching from Bryant Holtmann, from Gage Smith, from Jameis Winston, from Brandon and Robby; it was just a team win. And a very important win for us.”
Jameis Winston threw 1.1 scoreless innings allowing a hit and two strikeouts. Brandon Johnson and Gage Smith both worked 0.2 scoreless innings. Johnson struck out both batters that he faced, while Smith gave up a hit and walked one.
Robby Coles (1-0) worked the final 1.2 innings to seal the deal. The junior right hander retired all five batters that he faced to earn his first collegiate victory.
The Seminoles began their comeback in the second when Jose Brizuela led off the inning with a double to right off Georgia Tech starter Cole Pitts. Brizuela moved to third on a long fly out to right by John Nogowski and scored on Miller’s sac-fly to center.
FSU cut the deficit to 5-2 when John Sansone laced a single back up the middle to score Miller, who drew a two-out walk.
After Georgia Tech pushed its lead back to four at 6-2 with a run in the fifth, the Seminoles slowly began to chip away at the lead beginning in the sixth.
Miller and Giovanny Alfonzo reached on a single and walk, respectively off Pitts ending the afternoon for the Georgia Tech starter. Alex Cruz came on and hit Sansone with a pitch to load the bases. The Yellow Jacket reliever responded by getting a groundball off the bat of Josh Delph which looked like an inning ending double play, but the relay throw from Matt Gonzalez short hopped Murray at first base allowing Miller and Alfonzo to score on the play.
Pitts would not factor into the decision on Sunday as the sophomore right hander went 5.1 innings allowing four runs, three earned, on five hits as he walked five and struck out one.
The Seminoles tied the game in the seventh on Miller’s two-out, two-run double off the screen in right center. Stephen McGee drew a one out walk and Casey Smit delivered a pinch hit single to center setting up Miller’s game-tying hit.
“Cruz is a big off speed guy and he throws a lot of change-ups and breaking balls,” said Miller. “I was looking for a pitch to drive. In a 1-1 count, he threw a change-up the pitch before; I thought he might go off speed again and he did and ended up throwing a hanging curveball that I was able to hit off the screen.”
Jonathan King (0-1) entered the game for the Yellow Jackets with one out in the eighth and allowed the first three batters he faced to reach. Delph drew a walk followed by a single through the right side off the bat of Marcus Davis. Then with Stewart at the plate, the Yulee, Fla., native came through with a clutch, two-run single on a 1-0 offering from King to give FSU its first lead of the afternoon at 8-6.
“I wasn’t trying not to do too much,” said Stewart. “I was looking to hit the ball hard and get one run in, thank God the second run came in, but I was just trying to hit the ball hard and score a run.”
With the victory, Florida State improved to 19-1 at home in 2013 and a perfect 6-0 on Sunday at home. Dating back to last year, the Seminoles have now won 18 straight games when wearing the gold uniforms.
Florida State will hit the road for its next game against the Florida Gators on Tuesday, March 26 at the Baseball Grounds in Jacksonville, Fla., First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.