June 20, 2012
Omaha, Neb. - Junior right-hander Scott Sitz tossed a season-high 6 2/3 innings and struck out eight for the second time this postseason, while Florida State's 1-4 hitters combined to go 7-for-12 in knocking off UCLA, 4-1, to remain in the 2012 College World Series Tuesday night at TD Ameritrade Park.
"We all know that the pitching was definitely the key to the game," FSU head baseball coach Mike Martin said. "Scotty was just outstanding. Hunter came in and did a great job and then Robert finished it up."
Sitz (4-3) came up with his best outing of the season for the Seminoles (50-16) who won for the 50th times this season, which also was the 24th time under Martin's direction that the Noles reached the half century mark in wins.
Sitz faced 27 Bruin batters and limited UCLA (48-16) to one run on five hits while walking just one. He kept the Bruins to the one run in the top of the sixth after loading the bases with no outs and allowing the one run. He then struck out the side to end the inning. In 11 innings of work in two starts this postseason, Sitz has racked up 16 strikeouts to just three walks while giving up just two earned runs on 11 hits.
"No question the sixth inning was the big inning that Scotty showed that his nickname is evident because he was the Bulldog," Martin said. "You get the bases loaded against a team as talented as UCLA and get a run in and get out of it is just a credit to him. Certainly it was big for us. We knew that there were still nine outs left, but at the same time, it was a tremendous, tremendous lift for us."
FSU's 1-4 hitters produced seven of the nine hits for the Seminoles while scoring four runs and walking five times. Sherman Johnson, Devon Travis and James Ramsey each collected two hits. Johnson (67) and Stephen McGee (61) each added a pair of walks as FSU now has three players with 60 or more walks in a season for the first time since 1984. Ramsey walked once in the second inning moving his season total to 63. Jayce Boyd finished 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Hunter Scantling tossed 1 1/3 innings of no-hit baseball for the Seminoles bridging the gap to closer Robert Benincasa, who pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 16th save - the second most in a single season for a Seminole which also tied for the sixth-most in a career. Benincasa struck out the last two batters of the game giving him seven strikeouts in two appearances at the CWS.
UCLA starter Zach Weiss (3-3) took the loss after recording just one out in the first inning. He ended up allowing two runs, one hit and walked three batters. Centerfielder Beau Amaral collected two of the Bruins' five hits.
Sitz threw a season-high 103 pitches and fell one out shy of matching his career-long outing of seven innings. His three consecutive strikeouts in the sixth inning put an end to the Bruins' best scoring chance of the night. UCLA loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the sixth after a walk, a double by Amaral and a hit batter. Cody Keefer singled up the middle pulling the Bruins within, 4-1. Sitz then struck out UCLA's 4-5-6 hitters, Jeff Gelalich, Trevor Brown and Pat Valaika, all swinging to end the inning.
"In the sixth inning when they had the bases loaded and I had already given up one run, I was thinking to myself, that's all they get," Sitz said. "Coach [Mike] Bell preaches to us, if the bases are loaded, the most they get is one.
"I was just thinking to myself, this could be the last batter that I face, so I've got to get him, and I gave it my all. They stuck with me. And after that third strikeout, I don't think I've ever been more pumped up in my life."
Florida State chased Weiss six batters into the first inning as the Seminoles jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Johnson drew his first walk to start off the bottom of the frame. After a Ramsey single and a Boyd walk, McGee's RBI walk brought in Johnson for the first run of the game. After a UCLA pitching change, Justin Gonzalez's RBI walk scored Ramsey putting FSU ahead by two runs.
The Seminoles tacked on a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth to go ahead, 4-0. Johnson, Travis and Ramsey each singled with one out loading the bases for Boyd. After the second pitching change for the Bruins, Boyd laid down a bunt single down the third base line to score Johnson. On that same play, a throwing error allowed Travis to score from third.
"I've been struggling at the plate a little bit," Boyd said. I haven't gotten very good swings on the ball. I told Meat [Mike Martin, Jr.], if that third baseman's even a step behind the bag, I'm laying one down. I don't even think the pitch that I bunted was anywhere near the strike zone, but I knew the element of surprise would have been gone if I let it go by. I just tried to lay down a good bunt so the pitcher couldn't field it. We got two run across with it and got two runners in scoring position after that."
Florida State will now face Arizona on Thursday, June 21 at 5 p.m. (EST). That game will be televised live on ESPN2. If FSU wins Thursday, both teams will meet again Friday with the winner advancing to the championship series beginning Sunday.