Clemson, SC - Top-ranked Florida State (19-4, 7-2) erased a three-run deficit to sweep Saturday’s doubleheader and take the series from No. 13 Clemson (14-9, 6-3) as the Seminoles defeated the Tigers 4-3 inside Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
“A tremendous victory by our ball club tonight,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “To come in and get one win at Clemson is never easy but to get two in the same day; that just shows you what kind of team we have. These guys kept their poise and never gave up. A great road series win by our guys, I am very proud of them.”
The two wins on Saturday vaulted the Seminoles into sole possession of first place in the ACC Atlantic Division with a one-game lead over the Tigers. It also marked FSU’s first series victory at Clemson since sweeping the Tigers in 2008.
“This was very difficult,” said senior captain Justin Gonzalez. “In an environment like this, we have so much respect for their fans. They were in it with their team the entire way, so for us to come through here with a series victory is huge. We just have to keep it rolling.”
Trailing 3-1 in the seventh, Florida State scored three runs to grab its first lead of the night. Justin Gonzalez got the ball rolling with a solo shot to left for his first home run of the season. DJ Stewart then doubled down the line in left and John Nogowski followed with a walk. Jose Brizuela tied the game at 3-3 taking a 1-2 offering from Clate Schmidt (2-4) right back up the middle for an RBI single to plate Stewart.
After another Clemson pitching change, its third of the inning, John Sansone gave the Seminoles the lead for good on a two-out double down the line in left off Tiger closer Matt Campbell scoring Nogowski from second.
“I saw a fastball,” said Sansone. “It was a little high and tight. I just tried to get my foot down, put a good swing on it and it just worked out.”
Jameis Winston got the final seven outs to earn his fourth save in as many chances this year. Winston faced the minimum in 2.1 innings of work and after giving up a one-out hit in the ninth to Tyler Slaton, the sophomore right hander got Tyler Krieger to ground into a game ending double play on the very next pitch to seal the victory.
“It is about mental toughness and I want to be in this situation,” said Winston. “It’s a huge win; a huge win. I promise you we are going to go back to Tallahassee with a smile on our faces.”
Gage Smith picked up his third victory of the season as the Tallahassee, Fla., native worked 1.1 shutout innings allowing just one hit while striking out two.
FSU starter Mike Compton did not factor into the decision in the rubber game as he allowed three runs on six hits in 5.0 plus innings of work. The redshirt sophomore right hander finished with three walks and four strikeouts.
Florida State got on the board in the sixth courtesy of a Sansone sac-fly to center. The Seminoles loaded the bases off Clemson starter Jake Long with no outs on a single by Nogowski, a walk to Brizuela and a single by Brett Knief. Sansone then lifted a deep fly ball to center bringing home Nogowski to cut the deficit to 3-1. FSU could not manage any more runs as Long forced pinch hitter Casey Smit into a pop out to second and Danny De La Calle to fly out to right.
Clemson struck first in game two of the doubleheader scoring three runs in the bottom of the second all on two outs off Compton. The big hit in the inning came from Jay Baum as he ripped a double down the line in left to score two. Weston Wilson followed with an RBI single up the middle to give the Tigers a 3-0 advantage.
The Tigers loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth but could not manage a run as Smith closed the door on Clemson as he worked around FSU’s second fielding error of the game. With the bases loaded and one out, Smith got Wilson swinging on strikes and then Slaton to fly out to left to retire the side.
FSU then escaped Clemson’s threat in the seventh as Garrett Boulware registered a one out double down the line in left off Smith. Billy Strode came on to get Steven Duggar to groundout to short as Boulware advanced to third. Martin went to the pen once again and called on Winston. The Bessemer, Ala., native got Chris Okey to groundout to short to keep FSU’s 4-3 lead intact.
Gonzalez finished the night with a team-high two hits, while Sansone drove in two of the Seminoles four runs.
Florida State is back in action Tuesday, March 25 as the Seminoles will face Florida at the Baseball Grounds in Jacksonville. First pitch is set for 6:00 p.m. The game will air live on Sun Sports. Fans can listen to the game on the Seminoles.com All-Access player and locally on 1270 AM. Live stats will be available via gametracker.