The Seminoles proved to be too much for Stetson to handle Tuesday night, cruising to a 17-8 victory.
After grinding out an intense three-game sweep of Virgina, multiple ‘Noles still enjoyed big days at the plate.
James Ramsey went deep in the fourth, Seth Miller hit his second grand slam of the season in an eight-run seventh, Devon Travis recorded the first four-hit game of his career and Sherman Johnson reached base five times.
Coach Mike Martin understands the difficulty of playing consistently well this many games in a row.
"You look at what this ballclub accomplished Saturday, Sunday, Monday [against Virginia], and you wonder if they are a little tired," Martin said. "They went out there tonight and really got after it and played solid baseball. And it makes me proud to be a Seminole the way our guys got out there and got it done."
FSU's first big inning arrived in the fourth. Miller led off with a double, followed by a Johnson walk and a Travis two bagger. This set the table for Ramsey, who took the first pitch from reliever Tucker Donahue over the right field fence for his team-leading sixth home run of the year to put the Seminoles up 4-2. The ‘Noles added two more in the inning off of Stetson errors and free passes to first.
Johnson and Travis led off the seventh with a double and a single, respectively. Of the next six batters, three reached on walks and two were hit by pitches. Miller then put the game out of reach by crushing a grand slam to right. His six RBIs on the day were a career high, and the eight runs scored by the Seminoles in the seventh were the most they have plated in a single inning all season.
The poise Miller gained from his go-ahead, eighth-inning single the previous night carried over to Tuesday.
"It definitely did," Miller said. "It was a big confidence builder. Any time you get confidence as a baseball player, the only thing you can do is succeed."
Stetson's pitching made it much easier for FSU to do damage. The Hatters issued 12 free passes to the 'Noles, surpassing their previous record for walks in a game, which happened to come vs. FSU in Tallahassee two seasons ago.
On the other hand, Florida State starter Scott Sitz pitched well, lasting four innings and surrendering only two unearned runs, both of which came on a fluke play in the third. Backing up a throw to the plate, Sitz picked up a loose ball and short hopped a throw to third, allowing the advancing runner to score easily.
Following their fourth-inning scoring spree, the ‘Noles needed a shutdown fifth inning but found themselves in a difficult situation.
Sophomore Brandon Johnson replaced Sitz on the mound with the bases loaded and no outs after Sitz allowed a double, a single and a walk to the bottom of Stetson's lineup to begin the fifth. Johnson easily struck out leadoff hitter Spencer Theisen and then induced second baseman Robert Crews into a 6-4-3 ground-ball double play to escape the threat unharmed.
Even though Stetson scraped home three runs off of Johnson in the sixth, his shutdown performance in the fifth was enough to keep the Hatters at bay until Miller blew the game open in the seventh.
Gage Smith picked up his second save of the year after throwing 2 1/3 innings of relief and allowing one run on four hits.
It's rare that a team as young as the Seminoles manages to stay mentally prepared to play every day. A mid-week game against Stetson poses the threat for a potential letdown, but the will to win is enough to motivate Travis and the ‘Noles.
"I would say the will to win [is the difference]," he said. "The past couple years, we haven't really had the guys at the top stressing to us that. This is a mid-week game. We just had a long three-game series. We played Florida last week. We could have come in today kinda limping in saying, ‘If we lose today, big deal.' The coaches and Ramsey, big time, letting us know out in the outfield before the game, ‘This is a big game. Every game is a big game.' I think that our team takes a lot of pride in that."
Jonathan Bockman is the baseball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a student in Sport Management at Florida State.
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