Friday, the Seminoles failed to convert on their opportunities. Saturday, however, captain James Ramsey made sure to take advantage, leading the ‘Noles to a 3-1 victory over Florida International.
After John Nogowski and Justin Gonzalez both struck out with the bases loaded in a first inning that mirrored Friday's eighth, the ‘Noles seemed doomed to continue failing in the clutch. But in the second, Ramsey delivered a bases-loaded, two-out, two-run single through the left side of the infield to open the scoring for the Seminoles and overcome a high-pressure situation.
Ramsey, sporting a crazy .767 on-base percentage thus far, has proved to be a near impossible out. His popup in the fifth inning ended a streak of reaching base nine consecutive times. It was the second time he accomplished that feat this year. He constantly draws walks and rarely sees pitching over the middle of the plate.
But when teammates like Stephen McGee and Devon Travis give him the chance to hit, like in the second inning Saturday, the other team is in trouble.
"Steve did a good job, had a good hit," Ramsey said. "Dev smoked a ball that knocked off the guy's mitt at third, and I said, ‘Hey, there's nowhere for them to put me,' so I knew that they were going to have to come after me. I swung at a ball, honestly. 3-1 [count]. But it was a fastball. Just to be able to do that for my team, I've been walking a lot, not had a lot of chances with guys on base. But as soon as I have the opportunity, I'm going to step up for my teammates."
Ramsey wasn't finished stepping up for the day.
Entering the seventh, the ‘Noles remained hitless since Ramsey's outburst in the second. On a 1-0 offering from FIU reliever Alberto Cardenas, Ramsey blasted a no-doubt, line-drive home run to right to put the ‘Noles up 3-0. This insurance run proved its value after FIU catcher Iosmel Leon answered in the bottom of the inning with a solo homer off reliever Hunter Scantling to cut the score to 3-1.
Freshman Mike Compton pitched amazingly well, earning his second victory in as many starts. Outdueling opposing starter Mason McVay, who struck out nine 'Noles, Compton shut out the Golden Panthers, throwing six innings and allowing only two hits while facing just two batters over the minimum.
Coach Mike Martin was impressed with Compton's performance.
"I can't tell you how encouraged I was," said Martin. "Michael throws a very heavy baseball. Hitters don't like it. He has a tendency to get a lot of ground balls, and that's what we're obviously after with him. The fastball and the curveball certainly were impressive today."
Because of his heavy pitching, Compton relies on Ramsey and Co. to make plays on defense.
"That's my whole goal is not to walk anyone," Compton said. "Especially with that defense back there. They're diving all around making great plays, turning double plays for you. I mean, that shot to right center there [by Leon in the fifth], that was a hell of a hit by the guy. I thought that was a gap for sure. And Ramsey just tracked it down and made a great play. So that's the kind of defense that I know I'm working with."
A notable defensive play also came in the top of the seventh, when left fielder Jabari Henry singled off the glove of Sherman Johnson down the third base line. With no hesitation, Sherman turned and sprinted down the left field line, retrieved the ball and fired a perfect throw to second to nail Henry, who aggressively tried to turn his single into a double.
Robert Benincasa finished off Compton's strong outing and Scantling's two innings of relief by easily picking up his first save of the season. The Seminoles opted to replace Scott Sitz with Benincasa as their closer, with plans to utilize Sitz predominantly in a long-relief role from this point forward.
While the pitchers exceeded expectations Saturday, Ramsey carried the offense. Martin compared Ramsey's approach to a Seminole great.
"He's right there with [Giants catcher Buster] Posey in the way he approaches his at bats," he said.
Jonathan Bockman is the baseball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a student in Sport Management at Florida State.
Ramsey, Compton lead FSU to victory
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