Eighth-inning rally leads FSU to victory

Winning another ballgame of the comeback variety, Florida State fell behind early but managed to rally late Sunday against Virginia. It was the second win in two days for the Seminoles over the Cavs.

Sixth-ranked Florida State (16-2, 5-0) registered its second straight come-from-behind victory over Virginia (11-7-1, 2-3), scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth to defeat the Cavaliers 4-3 Sunday afternoon on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.

After being held in check through the first seven innings in Game 2, the 'Nole offense erupted for three runs in the eighth to capture their first series victory over the Cavaliers since 2008.

"That was a game we needed badly with the league the way it is right now," said coach Mike Martin. "Virginia is very good baseball team, and we were very fortunate to win the game. There was a lot of composure showed by our guys when we fell behind. There was no panic, no one trying to hit a six-run home run. Everyone stayed poised. It was a good win for us."

With FSU trailing 3-1, Sherman Johnson started the rally in the eighth, as he drew a one-out walk off Kyle Crockett (0-1). On the very next pitch, Crockett hit Devon Travis on the leg, and then gave up a bloop single to left to James Ramsey. The Cavs went to the bullpen with the bases loaded and brought on closer Justin Thompson.

Jayce Boyd stepped in and registered the hit of the game, taking a 1-2 slider away from Thompson off the fence in right center for a two-run double to tie the game at three. Stephen McGee followed with an RBI groundout to third to give the Seminoles their first lead of the afternoon. Ramsey, who scored on the groundout, was running on contact and got a great jump on the ball hit by McGee, leaving Virginia third baseman Stephen Bruno no choice but to throw on to first for the out.

"It felt very good, especially struggling a little bit this weekend," said Boyd on coming through with the big two-run double. "I have had some good swings here and there, and to finally get one in a crucial situation felt really good."

"I think Jayce really felt challenged," said Martin. "He could see how they were pitching Ramsey. They weren't giving him anything and trying to get him to chance. Of course, Ramsey fought like crazy and got the base hit. It was great to see Jayce have success. Stephen hung in there against a tough pitcher. He stayed tough and kind of got the right hop to allow Ramsey to score. You have to credit Ramsey for scoring that game-winning run."

The ninth inning belonged to Robert Benincasa, who retired the Cavaliers in order with three strikeouts for his sixth save in as many chances.

Bryant Holtmann (1-0) picked up his first collegiate victory, as he worked a scoreless eighth inning. The freshman southpaw gave up a one-out double but left the runner stranded, as he got a pop out to third and a groundout to third to retire the side.

McGee led all players with the only multi-hit performance on Sunday, as the redshirt sophomore went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI.

"I have been seeing the ball real well," said McGee. "He threw all sliders. On the last pitch, I was a split second ahead of it. But it ended up working out for us, so I will take it."

Johnson doubled in the third to extend his streak of reaching base to all 18 games this year.

"It was a game in which our starting pitcher pitched extremely well, and all he got for it was six innings of a couple runs scored, no ‘W,' no ‘L,' but he certainly pitched beautiful baseball," said Martin.

Mike Compton was once again impressive in just his fifth career start, as the freshman right hander held the Cavaliers to just three runs -- two earned -- on three hits in 6 1/3 innings of work. Compton finished with three strikeouts and walked two in earning the no decision.

UVA starter Branden Kline did not factor in the decision but kept the Seminole bats at bay during his 6 1/3 innings of work Sunday. The junior right hander tied a career high with six strikeouts, as he gave up an unearned run on four hits and no walks.

Virginia ran out to the early lead for the second straight game, scoring two runs in the top of the third. Mitchell Shifflett led off the inning with a single through the left side, moved to second on a stolen base and advanced to third on a fielding error by Compton, which allowed Keith Werman to reach following a sacrifice bunt attempt. After a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, Reed Gragnani gave the Cavaliers a 1-0 lead on an RBI groundout to first. Bruno followed with a two-out single through the right side, scoring Werman for a 2-0 lead. Compton escaped further damage when he got Mike Papi to ground into an inning-ending double play.

The 'Noles answered right back with a run in the bottom of the third to cut the deficit to 2-1. John Nogowski reached to lead off the inning on a fielding error at second and moved to third on Johnson's double down the line in right. Nogowski would score a batter later on a sac fly to right by Travis.

The Cavaliers pushed their lead to 3-1 on a two-out single to center by Gragnani. Shifflett drew a one-out walk from Compton, ending the afternoon for the Branson, Missouri, native. Brian Busch came on and faced just one batter, as he gave up a bunt single to Werman. The Seminoles went to the bullpen again and brought on Gage Smith, who gave up the RBI single to Gragnani.

Florida State and Virginia will wrap up the three-game series Monday at 7:00 p.m.


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