Eighth-ranked Florida State (13-1, 2-0 ACC) received another outstanding performance from its pitching staff in defeating Duke (7-10, 0-2 ACC) 5-0 Saturday afternoon inside the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Mike Compton (4-0) worked a career-high seven innings, the longest outing by a starting pitcher this year, to stay perfect in four starts. The freshman right hander did not give up a run and allowed just three hits, as he walked three and recorded a career-high five strikeouts. All three hits that Compton allowed came in the first two innings, and after issuing a walk with two outs in the third, the Branson, Missouri, native retired the next 13 batters that he faced before departing after the seventh.
"The first couple innings were rough, I felt a little shaky on the control," said Compton. "My fastball wasn't really working, and I had to rely on my slider a lot. [Pitching] coach [Mike] Bell saw that, and we took advantage of that today. I just kept the same mentality of throwing strikes, letting the opposing team hit the ball and letting the defense go to work. Stephen [McGee] was great behind the plate, and we were able to pull out the win."
"Michael pitched seven strong innings," said coach Mike Martin. "It was a great lift for us. He gave us what we needed today, as we were limited in the bullpen after we decided to give both [Robert Benincasa] and Hunter [Scantling] the day off because they have pitched a lot for us these last few games."
Compton has been impressive on the mound for the Seminoles in his four starts, as he lowered his ERA to 1.54 in 23 1/3 innings of work. Over his last three starts, Compton has allowed just two runs in 18 1/3 innings pitched.
Brian Busch and Gage Smith worked the final two innings to preserve the shutout. Busch started the eighth and recorded an out before giving up back-to-back singles to Jeff Kremer and Mark Lumpa. Smith entered and kept FSU's lead intact, recording a fielder's choice groundout and a strikeout. With Benincasa given the day off, the Tallahassee native stayed in to pitch the ninth and retired the Blue Devils in order to earn his first collegiate save.
"I am just going out there and throwing strikes," said Smith. "It has been working for me, throwing strikes and letting my defense behind me do the work. I know I have one of the best infields in the country, so I'm not too worried about it when the ball is put in play."
"Gage Smith is just pitching beautiful baseball," said Martin. "More than anything it is the poise that's impressive, and he showed that again today. He fields his position well, and he is not the least bit intimidated by any situation. He has been a great addition to our staff."
The shutout was the Seminoles' fourth of the season, while the pitching staff has allowed no more than three runs in eight of its last night games.
The win also locked up the series for Florida State, as the Seminoles have never dropped a three-game series to the Blue Devils in Durham in 11 trips.
"Any time you get a win anywhere is a great feeling," said Devon Travis. "Our guys did a great job today of bringing the energy to get the win. It's crazy what our pitchers are doing right now. We have had a lot of good arms during my time here at Florida State, but I have never seen so many zeros put up in a year. It's awesome. We just tell them to keep it coming."
Travis and Sherman Johnson each recorded two hits, scored a run and drove in one to pace the Seminole offense. McGee and Justin Gonzalez also registered a hit.
Jayce Boyd broke up a two-run Seminole lead in the ninth, as he roped a bases-clearing double to the gap in right center to give FSU a 5-0 advantage.
James Ramsey finished the game reaching in his final three at-bats, as he was intentionally walked three times.
"I am just very happy with the way we played the game," added Martin. "The lefty from Duke did a great job. We kept our poise, we pecked away, got a couple and of course Jayce came through with the big double in the ninth to break it open."
Duke threatened in the bottom of the first with consecutive two-out hits from Will Piwnica-Worms and David Perkins, but Compton got Grant McCabe looking at a called third strike to end the inning.
The Blue Devils put two runners on in the second with one out and left them stranded, as Compton recorded back-to-back strikeouts to keep the game knotted at zero.
The Seminoles were the first to strike in Game 2, plating a run in the top of the third without recording a hit. McGee reached on a fielder's choice, moved to second on a balk and advanced to third on a wild pitch. After a walk to Seth Miller, Johnson brought home McGee on a fielder's-choice grounder to third. Duke third baseman Jordan Betts threw home to get McGee, but the ball hit the Seminole catcher in the back, allowing him to slide safely into home for the first run of the game.
Gonzalez registered the first Seminole hit of the game in the fourth, roping a two-out double down the third base line. After a balk moved Gonzalez to third, Duke starting pitcher Trent Swart (2-2) got Jose Brizuela to fly out to left for out number three.
Florida State increased its lead to 2-0 on consecutive two-out hits from Johnson and Travis. Johnson legged out an infield single to short to extend the inning and scored a batter later when Travis hit a double down the line in left for his team-leading eighth two-bagger of the year.
The Seminoles wasted a golden opportunity to add to their lead in the seventh, leaving the bases loaded. McGee led off the inning, as he was hit by a pitch. Johnson singled to left, and Ramsey was intentionally walked. With Boyd due up, Duke went to the pen and brought on Andrew Istler. The freshman right hander got Boyd to fly out to right to keep FSU's lead at 2-0.
Boyd came through with two outs in the top of the ninth, as Duke once again issued an intentional walk to Ramsey to face the junior first baseman. Boyd cleared the bases, as he ripped a double to the gap in right center to give FSU a five-run lead.
Florida State and Duke will wrap up the three game series Sunday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
Seminoles shut out Duke 5-0 Saturday
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