June 2, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida State's Brandon Leibrandt picked the right time to turn in his best performance of the season as the freshman southpaw worked 8.0 shutout innings in leading the Seminoles (45-15) to an 8-1 victory over Samford (40-22) Saturday night in the winner's bracket game of 2012 NCAA Tallahassee Regional on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
Florida State will await the winner of Mississippi State and Samford for the right to play for the regional championship game on Sunday, June 3 at 6:00 p.m.
Leibrandt scattered three hits over 8.0 innings as he posted career-highs for innings pitched and strikeouts with 10. After escaping a bases loaded one-out jam in the first inning, Leibrandt retired 23 of the last 24 batters that he faced including the last 15 in a row.
The Alpharetta, Ga., native faced the minimum in an inning six times Saturday night as he became the first pitcher to reach double-digit strikeouts this year and the first since Sean Gilmartin recorded 11 against UCF on May 6, 2011.
With the victory, Florida State extended its NCAA Regional winning streak to 15 consecutive games and in the process became the winningest school in the nation with 144 all-time victories in NCAA Regional/Super Regional play.
Leibrandt got all the run support he would need in the first at-bat of the game as Sherman Johnson led off the game with a home run off Samford starter Josh Martin (12-2). Johnson finished the game 2-for-4 with three runs scored, an RBI and a walk.
Jayce Boyd and James Ramsey each came through with a clutch hit in leading the Seminoles to a victory. Boyd keyed a three-run sixth inning with a two-run single with the bases loaded, while Ramsey connected on his first career grand slam in the seventh.
Both Ramsey and Boyd finished the game with two hits each, while Ramsey drove in four runs and Boyd finished with two RBI.
Johnson got the Seminoles off to quick start as he took the second pitch of the game from Samford starter Josh Martin out of the park to right center for his third home run of the season to give FSU the early 1-0 lead. The blast was his fifth career postseason home run, while it marked the first leadoff home run by a Seminole this year and the first since Rafael Lopez performed the feat at NC State back on May 15, 2011.
Samford wasted very little time putting pressure on Leibrandt as the Bulldogs loaded the bases on two singles and a disputed hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the first. But the freshman southpaw got out of the jam getting Brandon Miller swinging on strikes and C.K. Irby to line out to Devon Travis at second to retire the side and keep Samford off the scoreboard.
Leibrandt retired eight straight Bulldogs until Phillip Ervin led off the fourth with a single up the middle. He proceeded to set down the next three Samford hitters on two strikeouts and a pop up to second.
Florida State added to its lead in the sixth scoring three runs off Martin to push its lead to 4-0. Boyd registered the key hit in the inning with a two-run single after Samford intentionally walked Ramsey to load the bases. With Boyd and Ramsey on at second and third, respectively, Stephen McGee laced an RBI single through the right side of the infield to score Ramsey from third. Boyd tried to score from second on the play but was thrown out at the plate on a great throw from Miller in right field. Jose Brizuela started the inning with a double off the screen in right and advanced to third on an infield single by Johnson. Both would score on the two-run single by Boyd.
Ramsey broke the game open in the seventh connecting on his first career grand slam to give the Seminoles an 8-0 lead. Holland dropped a one-out double down the line in right, while Johnson and Travis drew consecutive two-out walks. Samford would go to the bullpen and bring on Joseph Burns, who had given up just one home run all year, to face Ramsey. On just the second pitch of the at-bat, the senior captain hammered a 0-1 pitch over the screen in right for his team-leading 13th home run of the season. The grand slam was the sixth by Florida State this year, the most in a season since 2009.
Samford scored its lone run in the ninth off Hunter Scantling on an RBI single by Irby. Scantling went 1.0 inning as he allowed a run on three hits while striking out two.
Florida State returns to the diamond on Sunday, June 3 at 6:00 p.m. as the Seminoles face the winner of Mississippi State/Samford in game six of the 2012 Tallahassee Regional. Sunday games will air live on ESPN3.
Fans can listen to the games locally on 100.7 FM and online at Seminoles.com. Live stats will be available via gametracker, while fans can always receive in-game updates on Twitter @FSU_Baseball.