April 17, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
BLACKSBURG, Va. - In a dramatic turn of events in a 24-hour stretch, eighth-ranked Florida State withstood an 18-hit assault by scoring seven runs over the final three innings for a critical 15-11 win at Virginia Tech.
One night after Sean Gilmartin's complete game four-hitter went for naught in a 2-1 setback, the Seminoles (25-10, 10-7 ACC) mounted enough offense to erase an 11-7 deficit.
"It was undoubtedly a good win for us," said FSU coach Mike Martin. "When you have a couple of bad innings, you stay tough and you're able to get it done at the end ... it's a clear indication of the kind of young men that you have. I'm very proud to get a win like this on the road."
The wind was howling at English Field, gusting to 30 mph, which made every fly ball an adventure and turned everyone into a long ball threat. The Hokies (19-18, 4-13) padded their ACC-leading home run total (46) with three, but were ultimately finished off by Justin Gonzalez's two-run blast in the ninth.
Gonzalez's fourth homer of the season - FSU's second of the night -provided reliever Daniel Bennett with a comforting, four-run cushion. Bennett capped 2.2 innings of one-hit, shutout work by striking out ACC home run leader Andrews Rash with the bases loaded for the final out for his third save.
"Gonzo's hit was huge," said Bennett. "If you go in up two runs in the bottom of the ninth, I feel confident, but having that extra two runs - the four-run cushion - was huge for our team, as well as our whole morale."
The Seminoles' morale never seemed to waver, even after the Hokies erased a 7-2 deficit with a seven-run fourth inning. Virginia Tech chased first-time starter Mack Waugh with a walk and three hits to get it going, before Robert Benincasa was roughed up by Ronnie Shaban's grand slam and Rash's 12th homer of the season - a solo shot.
Virginia Tech pushed its lead to 11-7 with two more in the fifth off Jack Posey, as it threatened to extend FSU's streak of consecutive Saturday losses to five.
"You had some talking about a certain night being a night that we hadn't been successful," Martin said. "I'm just very proud of how the guys fought and persevered."
Martin's club, however, had other ideas.
There would be more to come against the Hokies, whose bats were silenced down the stretch by David Trexler (2-0), Brian Busch and Bennett. The trio combined for four innings of three-hit, shutout baseball, cracking the door for the Seminoles' comeback.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech's bullpen struggled.
FSU went through three Hokie relievers in a four-run seventh as they sent nine batters to the plate. It began with a leadoff double by Gonzalez, which was followed by an Devon Travis RBI single and a Parker Brunelle walk. McGee followed with an RBI single to center, with Brunelle scoring on an errant throw by Tony Balisteri. McGee was thrown out attempting to steal third for the second out before Ramsey walk and consecutive singles by Jayce Boyd and Sherman Johnson put the Seminoles in front 12-11.
Brunelle added an RBI single in the eighth before Gonzalez's towering, two-out homer to left - his fourth of the season - closed out the scoring.
"It was a huge win for our ballclub," Gonzalez said. "These conditions weren't great, but we had to stay mentally tough. This is do-or-die right now. We're in conference play and we can't be losing any more games they way that we lost yesterday."
Ramsey, Boyd and Gonzalez had three hits each as the Seminoles matched their season-high with 16 hits. Travis drove in a team-high four runs, while Ramsey added three on a night when he pushed his hitting streak to 13 games.
FSU right-hander Hunter Scantling will try and follow up his Tuesday night performance against Florida in his first weekend start as the Seminoles aim to clinch its second consecutive ACC series on the road. The first pitch is set for 1 p.m.