Eighth-ranked Florida State (10-1) passed its first road test of the season, defeating No. 18 UCF (10-3) 7-6 Tuesday night at Jay Bergman Field. The Seminoles stormed back after being down four runs, scoring all seven runs in the top of the sixth and then hung on for their first victory over a ranked opponent this year.
James Ramsey tied a career high with four hits, finishing the game 4 for 5 with two RBI and a run scored. Devon Travis registered a pair of singles in the win.
"It was a good win for us," said coach Mike Martin. "We played some baseball that we weren't real pleased about, but the key was that we took advantage of a couple of situations that was given to us."
"That was impressive," said Martin on the resilience of FSU to fight after being down four in its first road game of the season. "That is what excited me the most. We kept our poise. We kept plugging and didn't feel sorry for ourselves. We continued to fight and got it done."
Making his second career start, Luke Weaver went three innings in earning the no-decision. The freshman right hander ran into some trouble in the third, as UCF tagged him for four runs on four hits to run out to a 4-0 lead. Weaver allowed one walk and struck out three.
The bullpen came through for the Seminoles in Game 1, as five pitchers combined to work six innings, allowing just two runs on five hits, as they did not allow a walk and struck out three.
"Tonight, it all boiled down to the pitching," added Martin. "We did a great job of that, going to the bullpen and using five guys. It was just a great job on everyone's part."
Mack Waugh (2-0) came on in relief of Weaver in the fourth and worked two scoreless innings to earn the win. The senior right hander faced seven batters and allowed just one hit and struck out one. Hunter Scantling pitched 1 2/3 innings, and Brian Busch worked 1/3 of an inning.
Gage Smith worked a perfect eighth inning, retiring the Knights in order on three groundouts and just six pitches. Robert Benincasa pitched the ninth and retired the side in order to earn his third save in as many chances. Benincasa faced the top of the UCF order and recorded consecutive flyouts and then got D.J. Hicks to strike out swinging to end the game.
Playing in their first game at UCF since 1988, FSU improved to 4-2 in Orlando and 2-0 in one-run games this year.
After leaving a runner in scoring position through the first two innings, UCF made sure it would not happen a third time in the third inning, scoring four times off Weaver, including three runs coming with two outs. Ronnie Richardson broke the scoreless tie by finding the hole through the left side to bring home Travis Shreve, who was hit by a pitch to start the bottom half of the inning. The Knights then registered three consecutive two-out hits, including an RBI single to right by Chris Taladay and a two-run double that went off the outstretched glove of Seth Miller in right.
The Seminoles put runners at first and second with one out in the fifth but could not get a run across, as UCF starter Brian Adkins struck out pinch hitter Sean O'Brien and then got Sherman Johnson to fly out to left. Justin Gonzalez led off the inning with a single to left and moved to second two batters later, as Stephen McGee drew a walk.
Florida State exploded for seven runs in the sixth, taking advantage of two errors by the Knights to grab its first lead of the game. Three of the first four batters reached for the Seminoles, chasing Adkins from the game after 5 1/3 innings of work. Travis and Ramsey opened the inning with back-to-back singles, and two batters later John Nogowski brought home the first Seminole run of the game, singling back up the middle.
Roman Madrid (1-1) entered and the wheels came off for the Knights, as he hit Gonzalez on a 3-1 pitch and then Jose Brizuela plated two, as his groundball went under the glove of Darnell Sweeney at short. McGee then brought home the tying run on a well-executed sacrifice bunt to score Gonzalez from third. The Seminole shortstop slid under the tag in plenty of time to tie the game at four. A second fielding error gave the Noles a 5-4 lead and then Ramsey made it 7-4, as he roped a two-run single to center.
After retiring the side in order in the sixth, Scantling gave up a double to Shreve to start the seventh. The senior second baseman would come around to score on a two-out single to right by Hicks. Hicks moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a passed ball. He would score a batter later on an infield single to second by Taladay. Ryan Breen greeted Busch with a single to left, but the senior southpaw kept the Seminoles' lead intact, as he got James Vasquez to ground to short, with Gonzalez stepping on second for the third out of the inning.
Scantling also made a plate appearance in the top of the seventh and registered his first career hit. The senior right hander led off the inning with a single back up the middle on a 1-2 pitch off Madrid. It marked Scantling's first hit in four career at-bats.
Florida State missed a golden opportunity to extent its lead in the eighth, as the Seminoles loaded the bases with two outs when Johnson was hit by a pitch and Travis and Ramsey followed with back-to-back singles. Pinch hitter Stephen Spradling came to the plate, and on the first offering from Jimmy Reed he blasted an inside fastball just foul of the left field foul pole. After a tough battle, Reed got Spradling to ground out to second to keep FSU's lead at one.
Florida State and UCF are back at it for Game 2 of the midweek series Wednesday, March 7, at 6:30 p.m.
FSU beats UCF in first road game
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