ATLANTA, Ga. (seminoles.com) – Second-ranked Florida State (26-5, 13-1 ACC) used a nine-run fifth inning to erase a five-run deficit Saturday night and never looked back in defeating No. 23 Georgia Tech (19-13, 6-8 ACC) 12-7 inside Russ Chandler Stadium.
The win gave FSU its fifth straight conference series victory to open the season as the Seminoles improved to a league-best 13-1 in the ACC and now hold a four-game lead atop the Atlantic Division over NC State.
“Well it was a clear display of determination and poise, things weren’t going our way early,” said head coach Mike Martin. “There was nobody feeling sorry for themselves and folding up their tent. We were down five runs and obviously I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I thought we would score nine, but I did feel like we could get a couple, cut the lead down and keep fighting. I am just very proud of this baseball team.”
Florida State connected on three home runs Saturday night including two in the nine-run fifth. Jose Brizuela had the game-changing hit in the fifth inning as he connected on his first career grand slam to give the Seminoles their first lead at 7-6. John Nogowski followed with a solo shot to left and Devon Travis capped the inning with a two-run single to left. All nine runs in the inning came on two outs as it was the most runs scored by the Seminoles in an inning this year.
Travis was responsible for the third home run on Saturday blasting a two-run shot in the eighth for his second home run of the season.
Brizuela and Travis each finished with a game-high three hits and four RBI, while Jayce Boyd went 2-for-5 with a single and a run scored. Sherman Johnson, Stephen McGee, John Holland and Jose Delph all record one hit apiece as the Seminoles finished the evening with 13 hits. James Ramsey drew three walks and scored twice in the win.
“Breezy had another good night,” added Martin. “I am pleased with what I am seeing out of him. Devon had some very good swings tonight. He hit the ball hard three or four times, he did indeed have a very good night.”
Despite committing four errors in game two, the Seminoles turned four double plays while McGee gunned down two Yellow Jacket runners attempting to steal second base.
The momentum began to shift in favor of the Seminoles in the bottom of the fourth when Justin Gonzalez made an outstanding defensive play on a blazing groundball off the bat of Zane Evans to turn an inning ending double play with the bases loaded and Georgia Tech leading 6-1. The play by the Seminole shortstop came at a key moment as it saved at least two runs from scoring while keeping the deficit at five.
“That was a tremendous play when it was 6-1,” said Martin on Gonzalez’ play at short. “That ball goes through; it’s 8-1 because they had the bases loaded.”
Mack Waugh entered the game in the fourth and induced the groundball double play from Evans. The senior right hander finished the game working a season-high 4.1 innings allowing just one run on six hits as he walked one and struck out one to improve to 3-0 on the year.
Brian Busch closed the door on the Yellow Jackets working the final 1.1 innings to preserve the win. The senior southpaw retired all four batters that he faced while recording a pair of strikeouts.
Georgia Tech was the first to strike in game two on an RBI single by Jake Davies. Brandon Thomas ripped a triple down the line in right and scored two batters later on Davies’ two-out single to left center. The Yellow Jackets looked to add to their lead when Evans singled to left to put runners at the corners, but FSU starter Mike Compton would get Daniel Palka swinging on strikes to retire the side.
The Seminoles got their first hit of the game in the third when Holland led off the inning with a single through the right side of the infield. After a great leaping catch at the wall in right on a fly ball from Seth Miller, Yellow Jackets starter Dusty Isaacs got Johnson to ground into an inning ending double play.
Georgia Tech pushed across four runs in the third to extend its lead to 5-0. The first four batters reached off Compton on three consecutive hits and a hit-by-pitch. Kyle Wren led off the inning with a triple to the gap in right center and scored a batter later on an RBI single by Thomas. Sam Dove then laced a single off the leg of Compton and Davies reached when he was hit on the foot to load the bases. Thomas would score the second run of the inning on a passed ball. After throwing consecutive balls to Evans, Martin went to bullpen and brought on Hunter Scantling, who finished Evans off with a strikeout. After an intentional walk reloaded the bases for the Jackets, Dove scored on an RBI groundout by Connor Lynch and Davies scored on a wild pitch.
Compton worked 2.0 plus innings on Saturday marking his shortest outing in eight starts this year. The freshman right hander was tagged for five runs on seven hits as he struck out two and did not walk a batter. It was the most runs and hits allowed by Compton this year.
Florida State responded with a run in the fourth to cut the deficit to 5-1 but the Seminoles wasted a golden opportunity to add more loading the bases with only one out. McGee drove in the run on a bloop single to right center to score Ramsey from second. Gonzalez was hit by a pitch to load the bases but Isaacs recorded back-to-back strikeouts to limit FSU to just one run in the inning.
Georgia Tech answered with a run in the bottom of the inning to extend its lead back to five at 6-1. Bryant Holtmann, who started the fourth inning, hit Davies with the bases loaded scoring Wren from the third. Holtmann faced just five batters and recorded one out as the freshman southpaw could not find his rhythm walking two and hitting a pair of batters.
The Yellow Jackets looked to add to their lead in the fourth but the great defensive play by Gonzalez led to an inning ending double play.
Florida State erupted for nine runs all on two outs in the top of the fifth to surge in front for the first time on Saturday at 10-6. The Seminoles collected five hits in the inning but none bigger than Brizuela’s grand slam which gave FSU its first lead of the evening at 7-6. Nogowski followed with a solo shot to right and Travis brought home the final two runs of the inning on a single through the left side of the infield.
Brizuela and Nogowski became the first two Seminoles to hit back-to-back home runs on the year, while it marked the second time this season that Florida State has registered two home runs in an inning and the first since opening day when Ramsey and Brizuela went yard in the second against Hofstra. The grand slam by Brizuela was the fourth hit by the Seminoles in 2012.
Waugh returned to pitch the fifth and allowed two hits but erased Palka from the base paths as he induced a groundball double play off the bat of Connor Lynch. Thomas Smith then reached on an infield to second and Mott Hyde kept the inning alive reaching on a fielding error at short. Waugh would keep the four-run lead intact as Wren grounded into a fielder’s choice putout at second.
Georgia Tech cut into the Seminole lead with a run in the seventh on a two-out pinch-hit triple by Paul Kronenfeld. Smith reached on an infield single in front of the mound and scored all the way from first on the Jackets’ third triple of the game. Brizuela went hard into the left field wall on the play trying to make a spectacular over-the-head catch. He would eventually get to his feet and remain in the game.
The Seminoles increased their lead to 12-7 on a two-run home run off the bat of Travis in the eighth. With Davies on the hill for the Jackets, Johnson opened the inning with a single to center and scored on Travis’ second home run of the season. The junior second baseman took a 3-1 pitch from Davies out of the park to left to give FSU a five-run advantage.
Georgia Tech’s Dusty Isaacs did not factor into the decision Saturday night as he allowed six runs on five hits in 4.2 innings. He finished the outing with six strikeouts and five walks. Josh Heddinger, who gave up the back-to-back home runs in the fifth, suffered the loss and fell to 1-4 on the year.
Florida State and Georgia Tech return to the diamond for the third and final game of the series on Sunday, April 8 at 1:00 p.m. The game will air live on CSS. Fans can listen to the game locally on 100.7 FM and over the internet at Seminoles.com. Live stats will be available via gametracker, while fans can receive updates on Twitter @FSU_Baseball.