April 29, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - The only lead for Florida State on Sunday afternoon came at the end of the ball game as Jayce Boyd delivered a two-out, two-run walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth to lead the top-ranked Seminoles (36-7) to a 6-5 victory over Rhode Island (26-19) on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
It marked the second walk-off victory for the Seminoles this year and the second straight walk-off win on Sunday at home.
"That never gets old," said Sherman Johnson. "It was great to win like that, a big team win."
The Rams committed two crucial errors in the bottom of the ninth which lead to three unearned runs including two off of Boyd's first career walk-off hit.
"Well, sometimes it's good to be lucky," said head coach Mike Martin. "That's about the only way you can describe it. We certainly got a couple breaks there in the ninth inning, but we still had to produce and our guys did that."
Stephen Spradling started the ninth inning rally with a pinch hit single to left off URI closer Mike Bradstreet (2-2). After Seth Miller flied out to center, Bradstreet looked as if he was on his way to his 10th save of the season when Jose Brizuela hit a groundball to short for what looked like a game-ending double play, but Tim Caputo could not field the ball cleanly as Spradling scampered to third on the play. The second error of the inning came one batter later when the Rams second baseman Pat Fortunato muffed a ground ball off the bat of Johnson. Spradling scored on the play to cut the deficit to 5-4.
Bradstreet settled down to get Devon Travis swinging on strikes for the second out of the inning but then walked James Ramsey on four pitches to load the bases. On the very next pitch, Boyd came through with the game-winning hit doubling off the screen in right center to score Brizuela and Johnson as the Seminoles completed the sweep of URI.
"It is just one of those situations that's just fun," said Boyd. "The pressure is on you. The game is riding on your shoulders; it's you against the pitcher. A base hit either ties it or wins it. When they pitched around Ramsey, I saw it as a challenge.
"I noticed that he (Bradstreet) was trying to work the strike zone a lot. We got some good swings earlier in the inning on first pitch fastballs. I took that same approach for my at-bat and put it off the screen."
"I am just elated," added Martin. "I am just proud of this ball club. We just went through a tough week of final exams. I am just proud of the fight by the entire team. It was a good win.
"When Jayce stepped to the plate after Rammer was technically pitched around, it's one of the reasons why Jayce Boyd is who he is. He enjoys opportunities to help his team. He is not intimidated by any of that. He was very comfortable in that situation and he let the game come to him. He certainly put a very good swing on that ball."
The hit capped off an outstanding weekend for Boyd as the junior first baseman hit .667 going 8-for-12 at the plate with two doubles, a home run, two runs scored and seven RBI.
Despite being out hit by URI 13-7 in the series finale, Florida State extended its win streak to seven in a row and has now recorded 12 straight home victories on Sunday.
"Certainly Jayce Boyd's double off the screen to drive in the winning runs was dramatic, but there were a lot of things that occurred during the game that led us to this victory," said Martin.
Not to be ignored on Sunday were several key defensive plays made by the Seminoles which held the Rams offense in check. The first came in the top of the first when Seth Miller climbed the right field wall with a runner on first to record the third out of the inning on a ball hit by catcher Milan Adams.
Ramsey delivered two key defensive plays with the first coming in the second when Greg Annarummo lined out to center and Ramsey threw a bullet to first to double off Pat Quinn. The second came in the fifth when the senior captain made a great diving catch on a ball headed to the gap in left center off the bat of Jeff Cammans.
Brizuela made a great diving catch of his own in the sixth robbing Dan Haverstick of a base hit on a ball that was headed to the gap in left center.
"Anytime you can make the other club feel like `what have I got to do,' is always important," said Martin on the key defensive plays made by the Seminoles on Sunday. "That was a great play by Ramsey. He is really getting good jumps out there. The other two catches were big for us."
Making his first career start at short, Johnson made a big out at the plate in the seventh with runners at second and third and one out. Fortunato hit a groundball to Johnson who threw on to Stephen McGee to get Adams out at the plate and to keep the Rams lead at 5-3.
"It was a real credit to our infielders," said Martin. "We put them in a little different alignment. We are either in or back, but they didn't have great speed at third. We gambled and put our middle infielders at halfway. We got lucky and the ball was hit right at Sherman. He did a great job of throwing to the plate to get the out.
Rhode Island struck first on Sunday scoring four runs in the top of the third off starter Scott Sitz. The first three batters to the plate that inning reached on a pair of singles and a hit-by-pitch to load the bases. Chris Famiglietti gave the Rams a 1-0 lead plating Haverstick on a sac-fly to right. Cammans cleared the bases on the very next pitch lacing a three-run home run over the fence in left for his first round tripper of the season to give URI a 4-0 lead.
The Seminole cut the deficit to 4-1 when Johnson brought home John Holland on an RBI groundout to first. Holland led off the inning with a walk.
The Rams got the run back in the top of the fourth on back-to-back two out base hits off Seminole reliever Luke Weaver. Caputo singled to left, stole second and scored on Jeff Roy's RBI single to center, one of five hits on the afternoon for the Rams centerfielder.
Florida State continued to chip away at URI's lead with a run in the fourth and fifth inning. Ramsey was hit by a pitch to lead off the fourth and scored three batters later on Josh Delph's RBI double down the line in right.
Brizuela led off the fifth with a double to straight away center, moved to third on a long fly out to center by Johnson and scored on an RBI groundout to short by Travis.
The Florida State bullpen did its job of keeping the Seminoles within striking distance holding the Rams without a run after the fourth inning.
Weaver finished his outing working 2.2 innings allowing a run on three hits as he walked one and struck out three.
Gage Smith scattered three hits over 2.0 shutout innings as he struck out one and did not issue a walk.
Mack Waugh followed with a scoreless eighth inning striking out the first two batters that he faced before giving up a two-out single to Roy. But the senior right hander would get out of the inning as Famiglietti would groundout to second for the third out.
Hunter Scantling pitched the ninth to pick-up the victory moving the senior right hander to 5-0 on the year. Scantling gave up a two-out hit but ended the inning getting Fortunato to strike out swinging.
"Gage Smith came in and kept it close," said Martin on the work of his bullpen. "Mack Waugh pitched well, Hunter Scantling pitched well. We just kept trying to keep the game within reach and our guys did a very good job of getting it done. That was a game to remember. It was a fun atmosphere; a lot of good memories from that one."
Boyd was the only Seminole with multiple hits on Sunday finishing the game 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Johnson recorded two RBI and scored the winning run, while Brizuela scored twice.
Florida State returns to the diamond on Wednesday, May 2 at 6:00 p.m. as the Seminoles make the trek east across I-10 to face the Jacksonville Dolphins. Fans can listen to the game locally on 1270 AM and over the internet on Seminoles.com. Live stats will be available via gametracker, while fans can receive updates on Twitter @FSU_Baseball.