TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Behind an outstanding pitching performance from junior right hander Peter Miller, No. 6 Florida State (31-6) blanked South Alabama (27-11) 2-0 Tuesday evening on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
“It was a good win,” said head coach Mike Martin. “Our guys stayed mentality involved in the game and got it done and that is a credit to them.”
Miller kept the Jaguar bats at bay scattering just two hits over 6.2 innings of work. The Lutz, Fla., native allowed only one walk and struck out four as he improved to 4-1 on the year. It marked the fourth start in which Miller has held the opponent without a run this season.
“If he’s had a better outing, than I don’t know who it was against,” said Martin on Miller’s performance Tuesday night. “It was a great outing for him.”
“I’ve had some rough outings the past few weeks but the ball kind of bounced my way this time,” said Miller. “I still feel like I had good stuff like all the other outings but I just felt like things went my way this time.”
Billy Strode, Gage Smith and Robby Coles combined for the final 2.1 innings to preserve the shutout as the four Seminoles pitchers held South Alabama to just three hits all evening. The shutout was the fourth of the season for Florida State.
Strode worked an inning to extend his scoreless innings streak in relief to 11.1 innings. Smith needed just two pitches to get the final out in the eighth, while Coles pitched the ninth to earn his eighth save of the season.
South Alabama had five base runners all night long and not one player advanced past first base. Third baseman Bud Collura was on base three times as he registered all three Jaguar hits.
USA starter Payton Gardner (0-1) was impressive in his first start of the season as the senior right hander went 6.0 innings allowing the only two runs of the game, one earned, on five hits as he walked one and struck out a career-high seven. Gardner entered Tuesday night’s game giving up four earned runs in 4.2 innings over three appearances, but he used an effective change-up to keep the Seminole bats off balanced all night long.
“He dominated us tonight,” added Martin on Gardner’s performance. “He registered seven strikeouts but it felt like 14. He did a great job; a beautifully pitched ball game.”
John Sansone paced the Seminole offense with two hits in three at-bats. The freshman second baseman singled home the first run of the game in the fifth and later scored to give Florida State its winning margin.
Jose Brizuela, John Nogowski and Giovanny Alfonzo also picked up a hit in the win.
Both starting pitchers were on their game Tuesday night exchanging zeros through the first four innings allowing just two hits on either side.
“You try and keep the same mentality going out there regardless of what the other guy is doing,” said Miller on battling with USA’s Gardner. “He was working kind of quick so that helped keep me in a rhythm tonight.”
The Seminoles finally broke the scoreless tie recording three straight singles off Gardner which led to a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Nogowski opened the run scoring inning with a single to left center and moved into second on the play after a fielding error by the Jaguar left fielder. Sansone singled to right to bring home Nogowski, stole second and moved to third on a single to right by Alfonzo. Seth Miller plated Sansone for the second run of the inning on a fielder’s choice groundout to first.
“They did a very good job of doing what they had to do when the guy was throwing as many change-ups as he was tonight,” said Martin on his team’s clutch hitting in the fifth. “They stayed closed and drove the ball the other way.”
“It was really big for us because he (Gardner) was really mixing that change-up great,” said Sansone. “It was really hard to hit him. I was just trying to think singles and it worked out.”
Florida State returns to league play this weekend as the Seminoles head north to face Virginia for a three-game series beginning Friday, April 19. First pitch for game one is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Fans can listen to all three games on the All-Access player and locally on 1270 AM (Friday) & 100.7 FM (Saturday & Sunday). 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 the game will be available via gametracker.