March 11, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It was another Friday Night Light's Out for Sean Gilmartin and the fifth-ranked Florida State baseball team.
Gilmartin struck out 11 for the second consecutive game and limited Boston College to a run on two hits through seven innings as the Seminoles opened their Atlantic Coast Conference season with a 3-1 victory.
With Gilmartin effectively mixing change-ups, fastballs and sliders, the Seminoles (13-1, 1-0 ACC) made a three-run fifth inning stand up for their sixth consecutive victory.
FSU coach Mike Martin was especially pleased with the way his club "persevered" against BC starter Mike Dennhardt. The Eagles' right-hander limited the `Noles to two hits until his unraveled in a three-run fifth that he was unable to finish.
Stuart Tapley and Seth Miller singled to open the frame before Justin Gonzalez' sacrifice bunt attempt failed to move both men up. Dennhardt fielded the bunt, spun and fired to third, retiring Tapley for first out.
Devon Travis continued his torrid hitting tear with a two-run double to left, driving in both Miller and Gonzalez, whom had advanced on a double steal. Travis' ACC-leading ninth double also brought BC coach Mike Gambino and the team trainer out of the dugout, at which point Dennhardt exited with an undisclosed injury and the Eagles trailing 2-1.
"That dude [Dennhardt] was pretty good," Travis said. "He was pumping it a little bit and was a little sneaky, too."
Travis moved up on a passed ball and scored on Sherman Johnson's infield RBI single off Kyle Prohovich, extending the lead to 3-1
As good as Dennhardt was, Gilmartin - and the FSU bullpen - was better.
"It's kind of boring," said Travis, who watched Gilmartin fan nine through five innings - one more than necessary for the crowd to win a promotional coupon. "I heard the crowd screaming, `Hot Dog' in about the third or fourth inning and I said, `What, already?'
"When he's got that change-up working it's crazy. Their second baseman came up to me when I was on second base and said, `Gilmartin has the best change-up I've ever seen in my life. I don't know what to do with him.' ... Thank God I'm behind him and not in the (batter's) box."
The reigning ACC Pitcher of the Week retired 12 consecutive Eagles after yielding a solo home run to Andrew Lawrence, which caromed off the top of the right field screen, with one out in the second. It was Lawrence's first homer since his ACC Tournament walk-off blast beat Miami and secured the Seminoles a place in the tournament championship game last May.
Gilmartin recorded strikeouts in six of his seven innings, including two in five innings. BC managed just four baserunners against the left-hander. Brad Zapenas doubled to start the game for the only other hit.
"I think we fail to understand how good Gilmartin is," said FSU pitching coach Jamey Shouppe. "The guy can pitch. He had a very average year last year; probably my fault as much as his. You may see him pitching on TV one day. I think we'll appreciate him more after he's gone than we do right now."
It was also a bit of redemption for Gilmartin, who was roughed up for six runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings last season at Boston College. It came during a stretch of five losses and a no-decision during his 9-8 campaign.
"I learned from it," Gilmartin said. "Mentally, without a doubt it was a huge learning experience for me. Obviously my freshman year I didn't experience too much adversity."
Travis used a 2-for-4 performance to improve his team-leading batting average to .423 and extend his hitting streak to nine games.
The two teams will tangle again Saturday night with FSU sending left-hander Brian Busch (1-0) against BC's Nate Bayuk (2-0), with the first pitch set for 6 p.m. (FoxSports Florida).