Big first leads to yet another sweep

Florida State refused to take its foot off the gas after winning the first two games of a weekend series vs. Virginia Tech. Justin Gonzalez bombed a grand slam Sunday to help secure the three-game sweep.

Florida State didn't need another strong outing by its pitching staff, as the bats led the Seminoles to an 11–4 victory Sunday and a sweep of Virginia Tech.

Shortstop Justin Gonzalez set the tone in the first.

With runners on first and second, Hokies staring pitcher Andrew Aizenstadt twice left the mound after what he thought were strike-three pitches to Stephen McGee, only to walk him to load the bases. Gonzalez stepped in and ripped a grand slam into the Hokie bullpen in left to provide the ‘Noles an early 4-0 lead.

"He threw me a fastball," Gonzalez said. "I was looking for a fastball until I got two strikes. I think that was my first career grand slam."

Gonzalez ran the ball out hard, even though he was confident that he got all of it.

"Yeah, [I knew it was gone], but you can't show that," he said. "Especially cause I've been in kind of a rut. I just gotta play the game right."

The ‘Noles weren't finished in the first. Seth Miller drew a walk, and DH John Holland notched his first double of the year. Jose Brizuela brought the pair in with his fifth two bagger to end the first-inning scoring spree at six.

The entire rally came with two outs.

Holland made the most of his opportunity at DH, going 3 for 3 and also reaching first on a hit-by-pitch in the fourth and a walk in the eighth. With John Nogowski struggling lately at the plate, coach Mike Martin hinted that the designated hitter role is now up for grabs.

"Nothing is sealed in concrete is about the only way I can answer the question," Martin said. "To say it's up in the air, I guess I'd say yes. It aint sealed in concrete, so it's gotta be up in the air."

FSU stretched its lead to 10-1 in the third. Holland doubled for the second time down the right field line to score Miller from second. Sherman Johnson walked, and Holland scored from third on Devon Travis' infield single. James Ramsey then ripped a triple past sprawling first baseman Gabe Ortiz to knock in Johnson and Travis.

Johnson's three walks on the day extended his streak of reaching base to all 28 games this year. It was his fifth three-walk game of the season.

Sophomore pitcher Peter Miller, not at his best, was still effective, lasting five innings and striking out five while surrendering two runs.

After the long rally in the first, Miller seemed out of sync, loading the bases with only one out after two singles and a walk. But a mound visit by Martin set Miller straight, and he went on to fan both DH Brendon Hayden and right fielder Kyle Wernicki to end the frame -- and basically end the game.

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"I wanted to be sure he knew where he was in the lineup," Martin said. "If he can make certain pitches, he's got people behind him that are waiting to play. Just being sure he was in control of the situation, and he did a great job of getting out of that inning."

Third baseman Chad Pinder single-handedly provided half of the Hokie runs. He launched a long, opposite-field solo homer to right off Miller in the fourth and added another solo blast to center in the sixth off reliever Hunter Scantling.

The win boosts the Seminoles to a 24-4 record, 11-1 in conference and atop the ACC. To the joy of their skipper, the ‘Noles responded to the Florida loss Tuesday by playing probably their best weekend of baseball in the 2012 campaign.

"When I was talking to the ball club, I tried to find the right words to say," Martin said. "And I don't think 'good weekend' was enough. That was an excellent weekend of baseball. When you win two games, the third game is always so difficult because the other club is fighting like crazy not to lose three ballgames. They know the trip back is not going to be any fun, and I've been in that situation. So for our guys to accomplish what they did is certainly a tip of the hat from our coaching staff because they went out there today and got it done. They didn't hold back. They didn't take anything for granted. They weren't complacent. They didn't go through the motions, and that's just a credit to them and I'm very proud to be a part of them."


Jonathan Bockman is the baseball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a student in Sport Management at Florida State.


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