Eighth-ranked Florida State (6-1) received another stellar performance from its pitching staff Sunday in taking the weekend series from FIU (1-5) with a 2-1 victory on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
Cold temperatures and light rain could not dampen the spirits of the Seminole pitching staff, as five pitchers combined to limit the Panthers to just one run on seven hits. The staff also benefited from some great defensive plays, as the Seminoles posted a goose egg in the error column for the second straight game.
"I thought our pitching today was excellent," said coach Mike Martin. "We are facing a ballclub that if you make a bad pitch, they have the ability to do something with it. FIU had an RPI of 21 last year. They know how to play. They are well coached. They pitched us tough. They played us tough. They made us earn everything this weekend. Our guys approached this game like it was a conference game, and that is impressive. You've got terrible weather. This is not an easy day to play this game, and our guys really got after it today and got the job done. They are to be commended for that, and they were rewarded by the way they played to get this win. I congratulate them on a great weekend."
FSU starter Peter Miller (1-0) kept the FIU hitters off balance the entire game, allowing just one hit in five innings of work to earn his first career win. He finished the game with four strikeouts and five walks.
"It was real enjoyable seeing Peter Miller have the outing he had," added Martin. "He looked like Peter Miller today. It started in the first inning. [Pitching] coach [Mike] Bell changed sides of plate. We were going away and in for a couple pitches, and he said, ‘Let's go in.' It was great. It got him in a better rhythm. He turned around and pitched great baseball."
"The curve going along with the fastball and getting ahead in the count was key for me today," said Miller. "I was trying to keep the ball low today and was really just rocking and firing."
After walking Pablo Bermudez to open the game, Miller settled down and struck out the next two batters that he faced. But after walking Mike Martinez, Miller got Iosmel Leon to fly out to center for the third out of the inning. For the next four innings, the sophomore right hander allowed just one runner to reach second while facing the minimum in the second and fifth innings.
James Ramsey once again provided the offensive firepower for the Seminoles, as he broke a scoreless game with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the fourth. The senior captain pounced on a 2-0 offering from FIU starter Michael Ellis (0-1), taking the ball out of the park to right for his third home run of the season and 24th of his career. Ramsey finished the game 2 for 3 with a walk.
"He is just a guy that is always in the game," said Martin. "He enjoys the game and loves to compete."
"I loved being looked to in these types of situations," said Ramsey. "Just to be put into a situation to succeed is a testament to my teammates. A lot of guys did a great job today. Pete was great. Our defense was fantastic. It was really a full team effort today."
The Panthers looked to tie the game at 1 in the top of seventh, when David Vazquez tried to score from second on a single to right by Bermudez. But Seth Miller made an outstanding one-hop throw to the plate to get Vazquez for the final out of the inning and keep the Seminoles' one-run lead intact.
Building off the momentum in the top of the inning, the Seminoles added a run in the bottom of the seventh taking, advantage of a Panther throwing error by reliever John Costa.
Stephen McGee got things going, as he beat out an infield single that went off the glove of a diving Vazquez at third. After a wild pitch moved McGee to second, Seth Miller stepped in and laid down a perfect bunt single to the left side of the pitcher's mound. McGee advanced to third on the play and scored as Costa threw errantly over to first in an effort to throw out Miller.
The run would prove to be huge for the Seminoles, as FIU finally got on the scoreboard with a run in the eighth to cut the deficit to 2-1.
With Mack Waugh on the mound to open the eighth, T.J. Shantz took the first pitch he saw back up the middle for a single. The Panthers second baseman advanced to second on a one-out single by Martinez and scored on a two-out single back up the middle by designated hitter Adam Kirsch.
Hunter Scantling entered and needed just two pitches and a bizarre defensive play to record the third out of the inning. Left fielder Jabari Henry smoked a groundball that caromed off the glove of third baseman Sherman Johnson and right to Devon Travis, who simultaneously picked up the ball and stepped on second base to record the out and maintain FSU's lead at 2-1.
"That play was sick," said Travis. "I really don't know. At first I didn't think I would have a shot, but when the ball went up in the air, it was hard to read at first. But as I was running toward it, I was saying to myself, ‘I think I have a chance at this ball,' and it literally hopped right up to me. It was crazy, a very big play for us."
"That was college baseball at its best," said Martin. "As long as I have been in this business, I have never seen a ball ricochet like that thing did off of Sherman's arm to the second baseman, who had to be where he was for us to get an out. That was, in case you were wondering, not planned. We were very fortunate right there, and there is no question that it was a big play in the game."
For the second straight game, the ninth inning belonged to Robert Benincasa. The junior right hander struck out the first two batters that he faced before giving up a two-out single to Bermudez. But Benincasa bounced right back and got Shantz to pop up to Johnson at third for the final out of the game.
Brian Busch pitched two shutout innings Sunday, as he allowed one walk and two hits. Seth Miller finished with his third two-hit performance of the year, while Jayce Boyd picked up a single in the eighth.
"Brian Busch pitched great, and of course Benny did an excellent job of closing the game," said Martin.
The Seminoles will next head to Clearwater for an exhibition game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. inside Bright House Networks Field.
FSU tops FIU, takes three-game series
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