March 27, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It took the Florida State baseball team three batters Sunday to do what it couldn't a night earlier - put runs on the board against Wake Forest.
"It was nice that we got out there today an established ourselves early with a three spot in the first and a five spot in the second," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "It gives you a relaxing feeling."
The Seminoles (18-6, 6-3 ACC) responded to Saturday night's 8-0 shutout loss by racing to an 8-1 after two innings and were never threatened. With its 24th consecutive Sunday victory, FSU won its second Atlantic Coast Conference series of the season.
Junior right-hander Gary Merians limited the Demon Deacons to five hits and one earned run over six innings behind a potent attack.
Six of FSU's 10 hits went for extra bases, including its first five of the game. The early barrage, which began with a leadoff double by Devon Travis and included McGee's team-leading fifth homer of the year and Ramsey's fourth, continued in the second.
Justin Gonzalez opened the five-run frame with a one-out homer to right-center and the `Noles tacked on four, two-out runs after a Wake Forest error. Ramsey (2-for-4) contributed a two-run double and Jayce Boyd added a two-run single as FSU pushed its lead to 8-1.
Ramsey provided a momentum-building defensive play to set up the onslaught in the first. The junior right fielder picked up third baseman Sherman Johnson's errant throw, which allowed Wake's Pat Blair to score, and gunned out Mac Williamson with a perfect strike to catcher Rafael Lopez.
"The challenge was put on us today to win every inning and that's what we did," Ramsey said. "We came out there after they put one up (in the first) ... and before we knew it, we got our bats rolling."
Stuart Tapley's two-run, two-out single in the fourth pushed the lead to 10-1. Wake Forest (8-15, 3-6) never did find its groove at the plate, even after a 32-minute lightning delay brought an end to Merians' performance.
Pitching to contact with the lead, Merians (4-1) looked strong in his first start since March 8 against Maine. He threw 88 pitches, including 59 for strikes and issued just one walk while striking out two.
The junior college transfer had experienced some tingling in his fingers, which led the coaching staff to shut him down for a couple weeks. He made his first appearance since March 8 on Wednesday against Stetson and was saddled with the loss in the 11-inning affair.
"I thought Gary Merians pitched extremely well; spotted the ball well," Martin said. "It was a big lift for us. We needed something big for us to happen."
"It was good to come back and start after the little break there with the elbow," Merians said. "It felt good today."
Martin indicated that Merians' performance was strong enough to keep him in the rotation next weekend when the Seminoles hit the road for a three-game ACC series at Maryland. FSU currently holds a two-game Atlantic Division lead over Boston College, Clemson and NC State.
"I've always been a starter. I feel like it's a little easier for me," said Merians, who is anxious to get another weekend start. "It's why I'm here, to compete and pitch on weekends. [Coach Martin] putting the ball in my hands lets me know they trust me. I'm going to see what I can do next weekend."
Four Seminoles enjoyed multi-RBI games, led by Ramsey's three. McGee, Boyd and Tapley knocked in two each. Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
The Seminoles will travel to Jacksonville Tuesday to face rival Florida at the Baseball Grounds (7 p.m., FoxSports Florida). Junior right-hander Hunter Scantling is scheduled to get the start against the Gators, who dropped two-of-three games to defending national champion South Carolina over the weekend.