After taking two of three from Boston College, and primed for a big test when ACC rival Miami comes to town Friday, a one-game midweek series versus Division-II North Georgia screamed potential for a Florida State letdown.
Instead, coach Mike Martin and the Seminoles took care of business, handing North Georgia a 6-0 defeat.
"The focus was there, and the guys got after it," Martin said. "There was not any taking anybody lightly or going through the motions. We did a lot of things right. And of course we were doing it without the leading hitter in the Atlantic Coast Conference (Jayce Boyd)."
With Boyd home sick, the ‘Noles used almost their entire pitching staff to down North Georgia.
Martin permitted starting pitcher Scott Sitz to throw only two innings in a controlled start to allow him to practice for his outing against Miami this Sunday. He pitched well, allowing two hits and no runs in the short stint. After replacing him in the second frame, the ‘Noles utilized a different reliever each inning for the rest of the game. The FSU bullpen combined for seven innings and allowed only one hit, even though North Georgia consistently put the ball in play.
"We used probably more [pitchers] tonight than we've used all year," Martin said. "It was nice that we were able to get them their work. Scotty Sitz got his, and now he's ready to go Sunday. I thought he pitched very well."
One of the relievers was redshirt freshman Evan Geist. Making his collegiate debut in the eighth inning, the left hander gave the ‘Noles a preview of his talent setting North Georgia down in order.
"Honestly, I've watched a lot of baseball over the last year and a half," Geist said, "so I wasn't really nervous. I just wanted to get out there. It's fun seeing it from that view instead of over here [in the dugout], where I've made a nice home. So it's good. It was fun."
The Garnet and Gold jumped out to an early lead after James Ramsey tripled home Sherman Johnson and Devon Travis with a hard grounder that slipped by the first baseman into the right field corner. Stephen McGee then popped up just beyond the infield, but second baseman Derek Hooper seemed to forget about Ramsey at third, who tagged up and sprinted home to make it 3-0.
Ramsey now has the fourth most triples in school history with 14 in his career. The record, held by Stephen Drew and Luis Alicea, is 19.
In the second inning, shortstop Justin Gonzalez led off with a solo bomb to left field for his third homer of the season and 13th of his career. Finding his stride at the plate, Gonzalez also walked in the fourth and roped an opposite-field single in the seventh.
"Just staying aggressive, man, and staying calm," Gonzalez said when asked about his approach. "I was getting too anxious at the plate. I was causing myself to chase a lot of bad pitches. And when I'm slowing everything down is when I'm seeing the ball well. I saw the ball well this past weekend. I saw the ball well tonight. I'm just going to keep it going."
"Baseball is a humbling sport," he added. "I don't look at it as me struggling the first half of the season. I look at it as me getting off to a slow start. Now picking up the second half of the season, I feel as though in order for us to go deep into the playoffs and go to Omaha, which is the ultimate goal, I gotta step my game up."
FSU added its fifth and sixth runs in the fifth.
Travis led off by ripping a ball down the right field line for his 50th career double. Ramsey then brought him home with a dribbling single between the first and second basemen and scored from third on a John Nogowski sacrifice fly to deep left center.
Gage Smith sealed the deal for the 'Noles in the ninth, forcing third baseman Jordan Erisman to ground into a double play to close the game.
The Seminoles want to build on this performance, and for the them to make a run, Ramsey thinks the team should follow Gonzalez's approach.
"Justin had a great game," Ramsey said. "His last four games have been fantastic. He's getting on a roll. He said something to me the other day. This is his season. It started a couple of days ago. That mentality is what it takes. When guys just wanna win, they wanna help the team as much as they can. It's really encouraging."
Jonathan Bockman is the baseball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a student in Sport Management at Florida State.
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