Raleigh, NC - No. 7 Florida State (41-10, 17-9 ACC) rebounded with a 12-3 victory over No. 9 NC State (39-12, 16-9 ACC) Sunday afternoon on Doak Field inside Dail Park to even the three-game series at a game apiece. Brandon Leibrandt paced the Seminoles to the victory holding the Wolfpack to just one run in 8.0 strong innings.
With the win, the Seminoles moved back to the top of the ACC Atlantic Division standings taking a half game lead over the Wolfpack. The two schools will settle the series in the rubber game Monday night under the lights on national television.
Leibrandt put together his fifth straight quality start as the sophomore southpaw picked up his fourth win in five games to improve to 8-4 on the year. The Alpharetta, Ga., native retired the side in order in six of the eight innings he worked.
“It was just one of those things that everything went our way,” said head coach Mike Martin. “Of course Brandon Leibrandt was the story of the game. He pitched absolutely beautifully; he just kept the ball where it needed to be kept. I was very proud of the way we kept scrapping for more runs even as late as the ninth inning; we were still trying to put more on the board.”
After giving up an RBI single to Trea Turner in the third, Leibrandt retired nine straight batters before hitting Jake Fincher on the foot in the sixth. He then proceeded to set down the next seven batters before giving way to Brandon Johnson in the ninth.
“I felt pretty good,” said Leibrandt. “I was able to make some pitches here and there. They swung at some pitches to help me out; had some quick innings. The team played great behind me; overall, I think this is the best we played all year.”
Leibrandt finished the game allowing just one run on three hits, all coming in the third inning, with seven strikeouts and no walks. It marked the second start of 7.0 innings or more in which he has not issued a walk this year.
“It was a big pick me up for this baseball team,” added Martin on Leibrandt’s performance on Sunday. “We needed something like that today to get us back in the series.”
DJ Stewart led the Seminoles at the plate going 3-for-3 as the freshman left fielder reached base on all six plate appearances in game two. Stewart recorded two doubles and a single, while driving in three and scoring three times.
Marcus Davis and Stephen McGee each drove in three runs, while Davis, McGee and Seth Miller all registered two hits apiece.
Miller and Stewart scored half of FSU’s runs on Saturday. John Sansone and Giovanny Alfonzo both scored two runs and picked up a hit in the win.
NC State’s Ethan Ogburn (4-3) suffered the loss in game two as the Wolfpack starter gave up four runs on four hits in just 1.1 innings of work. NC State used seven pitchers on Saturday as five gave up at least one run.
The Noles got off to a quick start in game two as McGee laced a two-run double to the gap in right center to give FSU an early 2-0 advantage. Miller opened the game with a single down the right field line off Ogburn and moved to second on a four pitch walk to Stewart. McGee followed two batters later with his 15th double of the season taking a 3-2 pitch from Ogburn to right center to plate Miller and Stewart.
Florida State pushed across four runs in the top of the second to increase its lead to 6-0 and chase Ogburn from the game after just 1.1 innings of work. The Seminoles put together six straight one-out hits in the second beginning with Sansone’s solo home run to left. After a single by Alfonzo and a double by Miller, FSU recorded three consecutive RBI singles. Stewart started the charge with an infield chopper to second followed by Davis’ single to right and a single to left by McGee.
“Anytime you are pitching with a lead, especially a lead like that, you are just trying to get the guys in the dugout, get strike one over, make quick outs and that’s what happened today,” added Leibrandt.
NC State brought home a run in the third on an RBI single by Turner. Bryan Adametz recorded the Wolfpack’s first hit of the afternoon with a double down the line in left and moved to third on a single through the right side by Logan Ratledge. Turner followed with a bloop single to center to plate Adametz and cut the Seminole lead to 6-1. Leibrandt recorded his 11th pickoff of the year getting Ratledge at first for the second out of the inning.
FSU increased its lead back to six with a run in the fifth. McGee led off the inning with a walk and moved to second on a single to center by Jameis Winston. After a fielder’s choice groundout by Jose Brizuela put runners at the corners, Casey Smit delivered his first hit of the afternoon with a single back up the middle to score McGee as Florida State made the score 7-1.
The Seminoles added to their lead in the sixth as Brizuela drew a walk with the bases loaded to give FSU an 8-1 advantage. Stewart doubled and scored in the inning while Davis and Winston reached on a walk and hit-by-pitch, respectively, off Wolfpack reliever Anthony Tzamtzis.
In the ninth, Stewart and Davis added to their RBI total to give FSU a 12-1 lead. Stewart ripped a two-run double down the line in right followed by a two-run single back up the middle by Davis.
The Wolfpack added two runs in the ninth off Johnson for the final margin. The junior southpaw gave up three hits to the first three batters that he faced before settling down to record a strikeout and back-to-back groundouts to short to end the game.
Florida State and NC State will wrap-up the three-game series on Monday, May 13 at 7 p.m. with the game airing live on ESPNU. Fans can listen to the game on the Seminoles.com All-Access player and locally on 1270 AM. 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 will be available via gametracker.