March 4, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
ATHENS, Ga. - Florida State junior pitcher Sean Gilmartin continued his career-long mastery of Georgia Friday night at chilly Foley Field, but it nearly wasn't enough for the Seminoles.
Gilmartin's brilliance - a career-high 11 strikeouts over eight innings of one-hit, shutout work - was nearly overshadowed by Georgia's ninth inning rally. The Bulldogs scored five times against the Seminoles previously impervious bullpen before Daniel Bennett struck out Curt Powell with the bases loaded to preserve the 6-5 victory.
"I was proud of the way we kept our composure and got it done," said FSU coach Mike Martin, who turned to his bullpen in the ninth after Gilmartin's 99-pitch effort. "Things like this can happen. That's what walks will do for you. We walked a couple guys to start the inning and all of a sudden they start feeling good; a couple of balls are just out of reach.
"We did not make any mistakes. ... There's no finger-pointing. We fought and we held on."
With his third career victory against the Bulldogs, Gilmartin moved to 3-0 on the season for the fifth-ranked Seminoles (9-0). In 24 career innings against Georgia, Gilmartin has struck out 25, issued one walk, yielded 12 hits, hit one batter and allowed two earned runs.
Gilmartin had no real explanation for his success against in three starts against the Bulldogs (2-7).
"It's just one of those things," he said. "Baseball's that way. Some teams you don't do too well against and other teams you go out there and have a game like this."
Mike McGee and Jayce Boyd supplied the power, belting two-out, two-run homers in a four-run fifth inning off Georgia starter Alex Wood (0-2) for a 6-0 lead. McGee's third homer of the season, which followed a walk to Devon Travis, snuck just inside the right field foul pole.
Wood's next pitch hit FSU clean-up hitter James Ramsey in the back and brought both coaches from the dugout. Georgia coach Dave Perno made a mound visit and FSU coach Mike Martin held a conversation with home plate umpire Steve Manders.
After the discussions concluded, Boyd sent Wood's next offering over the left field fence into the hedges for a 6-0 cushion.
"Mike hits the home run and Ramsey get pegged," Boyd said. "You don't know whether it was intentional or not, but it kind of [ticks] you off and you just want to get back at them. The best way to do it is put numbers up on the board. That's what happened."
The Seminoles staked Gilmartin to a 2-0 lead with single runs in the first and second off Georgia starter Alex Wood.
Travis opened the game with a leadoff double down the left field line, moved to third on Sherman Johnson's sacrifice bunt and scored on Ramsey's two-out, RBI single to right. It was the team-leading seventh two-out RBI of the season by the Alpharetta, Ga. native.
All six Seminole runs were scored with two outs, continuing an early season trend. Of FSU's 89 runs scored this season, 40 have come with two outs.
Florida State doubled its lead in the second when Stuart Tapley stroked a one-out single to second and Justin Gonzalez dropped down a two-out bunt single. Travis followed with an infield chopper over Wood's head. Georgia shortstop Kyle Farmer was unable to come up with a bare-handed grab - Travis was credited with an infield single - enabling Tapley to score from second for a 2-0 lead.
Timely production aside, Gilmartin's performance was the story of the game.
"It (was) beautiful," Martin said. "He had all three pitches, threw the fastball to both sides of the plate. Giving a club like this one hit in eight innings is an unbelievable accomplishment. I'm just very proud that he got credit for an outing like this, because he certainly deserved. That would have been some kind of shame for him to not get what he deserved."
Georgia catcher Brandon Stephens' two-out single to right in fifth was the lone hit the Bulldogs could muster off the left-hander.
The ninth inning was an entirely different story. Brandon Johnson relieved Gilmartin and walked the first two batters on eight pitches and was replaced by Bennett. The Bulldogs pecked away at the deficit with five singles - two of the infield variety - and a bases loaded hit batter that forced in a run. Johnathan Taylor's two-out RBI single to left cut the FSU lead to 6-5.
Bennett finally ended it, striking out Powell.
"It's very, very important to get it done when we had our backs to the wall for the first time this year," Martin said.
The Seminoles and Bulldogs are scheduled to meet Saturday at 2 p.m. in a contest that will be televised by CSS.