TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 5 Florida State (13-0, 1-0 ACC) received another stellar performance from a starting pitcher, this time from sophomore left hander Brandon Leibrandt, as the Seminoles opened ACC play Friday night with a 4-0 victory over Boston College (3-9, 0-1 ACC).
Leibrandt carried a no-hitter into the eighth and with one out BC’s John Hennessy broke up the bid with a single through the left side for what would be the only Eagle hit of the evening.
“Of all the things that can occur in the game of baseball, a no-hitter or four home runs rank right up there and this was very exciting,” said head coach Mike Martin. “Brandon was masterful. He worked both sides of the plate, threw the curveball, threw the change-up, it was just a beautifully pitched ball game. Mike Bell deserves a lot of credit. He called a beautiful ball game.
“I was really into it. That is so exciting for me as a baseball coach and a guy that loves the game to see that happen. They are rare.”
“It was about the fourth inning,” said Leibrandt on when he realized he was working on a no-hitter. “I just went out there the first couple of innings and they hit some balls right at people; I got lucky in those instances. But I felt like the fourth inning on, that’s when I had my good stuff and I was able to make good pitches.”
The Alpharetta, Ga., native kept the Eagle bats off balanced all night long as only one base runner reached second base and that came in the second inning when Logan Hoggarth reached on a fielding error and moved to second on a walk to Stephen Sauter. But Leibrandt got Matt McGovern to ground into an inning ending double play.
After giving up a one-out walk in the third, Leibrandt retired the next six batters that he faced before issuing back-to-back one-out walks in the fifth. He would then retire the next six batters that he faced including a 1-2-3 sixth inning that saw Jose Brizuela making a nice off-balanced throw to first as Gabriel Hernandez tried to beat out a bunt single and then an outstanding diving catch by Seth Miller to retire the side.
“Seth’s catch was certainly outstanding, it kept the no-hitter intact,” said Martin. “Breezy made a nice play on a bunt and also a ball that was in the hole that he made a nice play on.”
“That was a great catch,” said Leibrandt on Seth Miller’s diving catch in the sixth. “Anytime you see a no-hitter happen, it has one of those plays. It was just awesome.”
Nearing 100 pitches, Leibrandt went out to pitch the eighth with the no-hitter still intact. He got Jimmy Dowdell to pop up to Giovanny Alfonzo at short for the first but then fell behind in the count to Hennessy before the Eagle third baseman found the hole between short and third on a 3-1 offering from Leibrandt for BC’s first hit of the game.
“It was a fastball away,” said Leibrandt on the pitch he threw to Hennessy. “The guy put a good swing on it and put it through the hole. It was one of those things that you’re like ‘it was a good run at it, but let’s get back in the ballgame, let’s throw the next pitch and get the guys back in the dugout.”
Leibrandt remained in the game and got the next two batters to ground into a pair of fielder’s choice putouts at second base to end the eighth. Friday night’s outing marked his longest outing of the season while trying his career-high set last year in the NCAA Tallahassee Regional against Samford.
“It was a big lift to get eight innings out of Leibrandt this evening,” added Martin. “To have a rested bullpen with two more games this weekend and a game on Tuesday, is huge for us.”
“When I was 10, I had a perfect game in five innings, but this no, this is about as long as I have gone without a hit,” added Leibrandt. “Definitely big (for me to have this kind of outing tonight), my offense has had my back this whole season, so it was nice to go out there and throw up zeros for them.”
Robby Coles pitched the ninth and worked around a fielding error to open the inning by retiring the next three batters that he faced on a strikeout, fly out and a groundout to put the finishing touches on the Seminoles’ third shutout of the season.
The combined one-hitter was the first for the Seminoles since March 8, 2010 when Mike McGee, Tyler Everett and Daniel Bennett one-hit the Jacksonville Dolphins in Jacksonville. In that game, the Seminoles took a no-hitter into the ninth inning when JU’s Alex Martinez led off the bottom of the ninth with a single up the middle.
“I went out there hoping that he was going to continue to pitch the way he was pitching, hitting spots, throwing every pitch for strikes,” said catcher Stephen McGee. “He came out tonight and showed exactly who he is and what kind of pitcher he is and that’s real positive.”
Offensively, the Seminoles gave Leibrandt all the run support he would need scoring one run in each of the first three innings.
Josh Delph led things off in the bottom of the first with a walk, one of four drawn by the Bartow, Fla., native on the evening. He would move to second on a groundout to first by DJ Stewart and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Marcus Davis brought Delph home on an RBI groundout to second to give FSU the early 1-0 lead.
Brizuela brought home John Nogowski for the second run of the game in the second on a sac-fly to right. Nogowski led off the inning with an infield base hit to third.
In the third, Davis drew a two-out walk and scored all the way from first on an RBI double to left by McGee to increase FSU’s lead to 3-0.
FSU added its fourth run of the evening in the sixth when Alfonzo registered his second double of the evening as the ball ricocheted off the third base bag and into left field. He would score three batters later on a fielder’s choice groundout by Stewart.
Alfonzo led all hitters Friday night with two hits on a pair of doubles. Stewart, McGee, Nogowski and Brizuela also registered a hit in the win.
John Sansone drew two walks, one in the sixth and eighth innings, and as now reached base in all 13 games this year.
With the win, Florida State remained perfect on the year and is off to its best start since 2010 when the Seminoles started 13-0.
Florida State and Boston College are right back at it for game two of the series on Saturday, March 9 with first pitch scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Saturday’s game will air on Seminoles.com All-Access. Fans can also listen to the game on the All-Access player, while locally fans can hear the game on 100.7 FM.
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 for all three games will be available via gametracker.