TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State capped a postcard perfect season-opening weekend of baseball with a convincing 15-0 victory over VMI at Dick Howser Stadium.
The 10th-ranked Seminoles (3-0) battered six Keydet pitchers for 16 hits and rode an outstanding effort from sophomore starter Scott Sitz and three relievers for their second shutout victory in three games.
It marked the first time the Seminoles recorded a pair of shutouts victories in a season-opening series since 1985 against Armstrong State. FSU had not posted two shutouts in any series since scoring three in a 2000 sweep of Maryland.
“We just played a weekend of baseball - three nine-inning games with two errors and we had two shutouts,” FSU coach Mike Martin said. “We know we have to pitch and play good defense in order to be successful. I know there is an awful lot of baseball left, but this was a good start for us and I am very proud of the way they went about this ball game.”
VMI (0-3) mounted its only serious scoring threat in the third inning. Rob Dickinson rolled a groundball single through the left side and Cody Holder singled to left with one out. A passed ball put the Keydets on second and third before Sitz struck out Sam Roberts and Eric Mayers to kill the threat.
Sitz established a new career high with five strikeouts – four of them looking – over six innings, which also matched a career high. The Jacksonville Beach native did not issue a walk.
Five Seminoles collected two hits each, including sophomore outfielder Seth Miller, whose first career hit carried the right field screen for a three-run homer. Miller’s blast – the first of the season by FSU – came during a five-run, fourth inning as the ‘Noles built a commanding 6-0 lead.
“We had runners in scoring position and [coach Martin] told me to put a good swing on it,” said Miller, recounting his at-bat against VMI starter Sam Roberts. “I saw a change-up and took a big swing at it but I was a little out in front of it. Then he gave me a fastball up and in and I was right on time with it. I caught the barrel good and there she flew. I didn’t feel anything when I struck that ball.”
James Ramsey wrapped up an impressive weekend with a 2-for-3 performance, including a run-scoring triple in the fourth. Ramsey was 7-for-10 with a pair of triples, six runs scored and four RBI in the series.
Sherman Johnson extended his team-leading hitting streak to 12 games with a 2-for-4 performance, while Justin Gonzalez was 2-for-5 with two runs scored.
Miller wasn’t the only ‘Nole to leave the yard in the series finale. Devon Travis belted a two-run homer to left during an eight-run sixth inning when the Seminoles sent 12 batters to the plate.
While the Seminoles’ offense produced 36 runs and 38 hits against the Keydets, pitching was the story of the weekend. FSU pitchers allowed only four hits and for the second time in three games they did not issue a walk.
“If you don’t walk anybody and give up four hits, you’ve got to be pleased,” said FSU pitching coach Jamey Shouppe.
Seminole relievers Robert Benincasa, Peter Miller and Daniel Bennett finished up Sitz’s strong start, each facing the minimum batters in an inning of work.
Still, the story of the day was Sitz, who worked his way into the weekend rotation late last season, but finished up in the bullpen after struggling with some control issues.
“I settled in after the first inning and felt pretty much comfortable out there,” said Sitz, who is now 6-0 in his young career with the ‘Noles. “It was like any normal practice day out here – just pound the strike zone and get people out.”
Sitz threw 92 pitches – 63 for strikes – as he spotted his fastball and used a biting slider to hold the Keydets in check.
“I knew Scotty Sitz matched up well with these guys,” Shouppe said. “I told my family at home last night that if he threw like he was capable of throwing, he’d go right through these guys, because his strengths match up well with their weaknesses as hitters.”
It was a big boost mentally for Sitz, who found himself leaning on the offense way to frequently last season. On Sunday, he held up his end of the deal while benefitting from a breakout offensive performance.
“It seems like every time I throw on Sunday they score a lot of runs,” Sitz said. “Last year they always bailed me out, but this year I’m glad I did my part and they did their part, too.”
The Seminoles will return to action Tuesday at home against in-state rival Jacksonville (2-1). First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and the game will be televised by Sun Sports.
Junior college transfer right-hander Gary Merians will take the ball for Florida State and face JU senior right-hander Chris Kaminski.