Neb. – By this point of the season, it doesn’t matter what way, shape or form
wins look like for the remaining teams at the College World Series.
it doesn’t matter if the main characters playing the major roles look a little
different than the stereotypical high-level athletes who dominate the game at
Florida State pieced the perfect meeting of both those factors Tuesday, and as a
result, the Seminoles climbed into the semifinal round – still very much alive
and well in the hunt for a national championship.
used some early offensive patience, the element of surprise mixed with
aggressive hustle and the best game of junior Scott Sitz’s baseball life to
plug past UCLA 4-1 at TD Ameritrade Park.
Seminoles (50-16) will tangle with Arizona (45-17) at 4 p.m. Thursday. Florida State
needs two wins over the Wildcats to advance to the best-of-three national
get there, FSU handed the ball to Sitz and he came up huge.
|Florida State pitcher Scott Sitz jumps for joy after striking out three UCLA hitters with the bases loaded in the sixth inning|
short-and-stocky mustachioed player his teammates call “Bulldog” turned in his
best performance of the season and perhaps of his three-year career. He logged
6.2 innings, limited the Bruins (48-16) to five hits and struck out eight.
had a chance to knock Sitz around and possibly out in the sixth inning when
Kevin Williams led off with a walk, Beau Amaral roped a double into the
right-field corner and Sitz plunked Tyler Heineman to load the bases.
coach Mike Martin strolled out to talk to Sitz, but left him in to face Cody Keefer,
who punched an RBI base hit through the middle to get the Bruins on the board
and trim FSU’s lead to 4-1.
Sitz in danger of giving up a game-changing inning, he dug deep and started
flipping one breaking ball after another at the UCLA hitters and struck out
Jeff Gelalich, Trevor Brown and Pat Valaika in order – leaping as high as he
could after the last swing and miss to end the Bruins’ uprising.
that third strikeout, I don’t know if I’ve ever been more pumped up in my life,”
|Pat Valaika walks away after fanning to end the sixth with the bases loaded|
just couldn’t believe the last batter swing. I had to go back in the dugout and
ask our catcher if he swung. It was just an awesome feeling.”
moment that all but extinguished UCLA’s hopes as it turned out.
question the sixth inning was the big inning that Scott 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.”
Seminoles didn’t need many big things on offense – just some gritty at-bats and
a veteran seeing an opportunity and making something happen.
starter Zack Weiss couldn’t command the strike zone in the first inning and
that let FSU scratch out two quick runs in the first inning.
walked FSU’s Sherman Johnson to start the frame, gave up a one-out single to
James Ramsey on a full-count pitch and then walked Jayce Boyd and Stephen McGee
to force in a run.
don’t chase,” UCLA coach John Savage said of the Seminoles’ patient approach. “We
weren’t in the zone and that’s a lethal combination.”
lifted Weiss for freshman left-hander Grant Watson, who walked Justin Gonzalez
to force in the second run before coaxing Josh Delph into a 3-2-3 double play.
three first-inning walks set the tone, though, as the Bruins pitchers had to
adjust and throw hittable strikes earlier in counts.
|FSU's Devon Travis slides across the plate with the second run on Jayce Boyd's bunt to give the Seminoles a 4-0 lead|
ran into more trouble in the fourth inning when Johnson, Devon Travis and
Ramsey whacked consecutive singles to load the bases with nobody out. Searching
for an answer, Savage went to Ryan Deeter and on his first offering, Boyd laid
down a perfect push bunt to the left side that caught UCLA third baseman Kevin Kramer by surprise.
charged the ball but it scooted under his glove to allow Johnson to score
easily. Travis never slowed down rounding third base and slid in safely when
Kramer’s throw was off the mark, giving FSU a 4-0 lead.
laid down the big bunt and Devon did such a great job of being head’s-up and
rounding the bag,” Martin said. “Man, I’d love to take credit for that, but
Jayce read it on his own.”
Boyd, “I don’t even think the pitch that I bunted was anywhere near the strike
zone. But I knew the element of surprise would’ve been gone if I let it go by.”
UCLA, those two runs, combined with the Seminoles’ pitched, wiped out the
element of hope.
dodging the sixth-inning bullet, Sitz got the first two outs of the seventh
inning and then gave way to Hunter Scantling, who ended the seventh by getting Amaral
to roll out to second base and then got the Bruins in order in the eighth
Benincasa slammed the door with a perfect ninth inning, retiring Brown on a
routine flyout out to center field and striking
out Valaika and pinch-hitter Chris Keck for his 16th save.
|John Savage: 'For whatever reason, the last two games, it just didn’t happen.'|
were the final outs on an offensive night that Savage summed up as “frustration
and poor swings.”
could have been talking about either of his team’s final two games.
began the CWS blazing, with a five-run first inning against Stony Brook last
Friday. After that opening salvo, the Bruins batted .159 (14-for-88) over the
final 25 innings.
last two games, we didn’t play offensively how we have all year,” Amaral said.
“We didn’t adjust to the pitching as quickly as we should’ve. When we did square up balls, I felt like it
wasn’t at somebody.”
RBI single ended a 14.1-inning scoring drought, but Sitz’s escape act seemed to
take all the starch out of the UCLA bats.
when we felt we had that little mojo going on our way and we had guys on and (Keefer)
had that hit with the bases loaded, we all felt like it was going to be a big
inning,” Brown said. “We all got just a little out of character and got a
little too excited and weren’t as patient as we should’ve been at the plate.”
NoleDigest Video: 'Noles 4,Bruins 1