Tallahassee - No. 2 Florida State (7-1) cruised to a 10-2 victory over No. 14 Miami (5-4) on Saturday afternoon to even the weekend series at a game apiece. The Seminoles and Hurricanes will square-off in the rubber game of the series on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
The Seminoles used some timely hitting during the early portion of the game scoring their first five runs all on two outs before breaking the game open with a five-run seventh inning.
Saturday’s win came in front of announced crowd of 6,593 – the largest crowd to see a game this year and eighth largest crowd in school history.
Florida State also received another outstanding performance from its pitching staff as three Seminole pitchers limited the Hurricanes to just two runs on seven hits with only one of those hits going for extra bases.
“Obviously, when you look at the ball game it all starts with the pitching, I thought Brandon did an excellent job of eating up innings for us,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “I thought he got a little shaky there, I guess around the third, but he pitched out of it and got us in the dugout. Anytime the starter can go 6.2 (innings) you have to be very satisfied.”
Brandon Leibrandt improved to 2-0 on the year after holding the Canes to just two runs, one earned, on six hits in 6.2 innings on Saturday. The junior southpaw walked only one batter, while finishing with three strikeouts.
After giving up a lead-off single to Ricky Eusebio to start the fourth, Leibrandt recorded 11 consecutive outs before issuing a two-out single to Brandon Lopez in the seventh.
“Fastball command (was really working today),” said Leibrandt. “The first couple of innings, dealing with a little bit of emotions, adrenalin kicking in; when I was able to locate and get ahead with strike one, it just opened everything up and I was able to make some pitches.”
Gage Smith came on to get the next four outs before Brandon Johnson pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the win.
Smith has appeared in seven of FSU’s first nine games and has yet to be scored on in 9.0 innings of work. The senior right hander has allowed just two hits and one walk, while striking out five as he is holding opponents to a .074 batting average on the year.
“Offensively, we had some very good at-bats,” added Martin. “That’s very important when you are playing a team that is as talented as Miami is. It was one of those games that we answered in the first and just scraped and clawed, got a couple of breaks, a couple of key hits; very, very pleased to get a win.”
Jose Brizuela paced the Seminole offense on Saturday as the junior third baseman tied career-highs with three hits and four RBI. He was robbed of a hit in the sixth when his liner to right was caught by a diving Dale Carey.
“I thought today he was just more conscious of getting good pitches along with a little more aggressive swings; I mean he hit the day lights out of the ball four times,” added Martin on Brizuela’s performance at the plate on Saturday. “One was an outstanding play that Carey made. It was a big production day for Breezy.”
After Miami had plated a two-out run in the top of the first on an RBI single by Alex Hernandez, the Seminoles responded with four runs all on two outs in the bottom of the first off Hurricane starter Bryan Radziewski (0-2).
Radziewski was in trouble right out the gate loading the bases on three straight walks. He looked as though he would get out of the inning unscathed after recording a fly out and a strikeout, but John Nogowski had other plans hitting a 1-1 offering just inside the bag at first for a two-run double to plate Josh Delph and Justin Gonzalez. Brizuela followed with a two-run single to left to give the Seminoles a 4-1 advantage. Stewart’s walk in the first extended his streak of reaching base to 35 straight games.
“I thought Nogowski did an excellent job of getting us on the board,” said Martin. “Those two-out hits are obviously very important. A lot of positive things happened early and I know that gave Brandon a good feeling too because of course they had scored one in their top (half of the inning).”
“It set the tone of the game,” added Leibrandt on Nogowski and Brizuela coming through with the key two-out hits in the first. “Anytime you walk the bases loaded and get two outs and almost get out of it with no runs, that’s huge. But Nogo broke his heart and we were able to put up a big four spot and after that we were cruising.”
The Hurricanes cut the deficit to 4-2 in the third taking advantage of a Florida State fielding error. Tyler Palmer reached to open the inning on a fielding error in centerfield and scored three batters later on a two-out double to left by Hernandez.
Florida State responded right back in the bottom half of the inning with another two-out run of its own to push its lead back to three at 5-2. John Sansone, who reached on a fielder’s choice groundout, would eventually come around to score on a Brizuela RBI single to right.
Radziewski would leave after 4.1 innings as the junior southpaw was charged with five runs on three hits as he tied a career-high with five walks.
The Seminoles blew the game open in the seventh scoring five runs to take a commanding 10-2 lead. FSU sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning with the runs coming on a DJ Stewart RBI double to right, Brett Knief’s RBI single up the middle, Sansone’s two-run double to the gap in right center and Brizuela’s third hit of the afternoon – an RBI double to right.
“They have a great pitching staff and it was just great to be able to produce against them,” said Brizuela. “After you lose a game especially against your rival, it doesn’t feel too great, but we came back today with a bulldog mentality and we took care of business.”
Florida State and Miami will wrap-up the series on Sunday, March 2 with first pitch at 1:00 p.m. The game will be streamed live over the internet on Seminoles.com All-Access, while fans can listen to the game on All-Access and locally on 100.7 FM. Live stats will be available via gametracker.