Knowing Miami desired revenge after a deflating loss Friday, the Seminoles added to the Hurricanes' woes with an impressive 6-1 win in Game 2 of the three-game series.
Providing energy out of the bullpen in the sixth, Luke Weaver adeptly limited Miami's lone opportunity to cut into a 4-0 Florida State lead.
After the ‘Canes loaded the bases off starter Mike Compton with no outs, coach Mike Martin once again asked Weaver to control the damage. Weaver fell behind 3-1 to strong-hitting left fielder Chantz Mack but battled back and forced him into a sacrifice fly, which allowed Miami's first run to score. Weaver then caught cleanup hitter Rony Rodriguez looking for the second out and induced third baseman Brad Fieger to pop up to Devon Travis at second to end the inning.
Miami never threatened again.
"Luke's been clutch all season for us," Compton said after the game, "especially in those bases-loaded situations, no outs. That's a lot to expect out of him. He's been doing it all season. He's got the heat to blow it by hitters, and he's got the off-speed to keep them off balance. That was really a clutch situation, and to come out there with only one run, that's amazing."
Weaver also pitched the seventh and eighth, allowing a total of one hit while fanning four Hurricanes, and then Robert Benincasa shut the door in the ninth.
With Compton coming off two shaky starts, pitching coach Mike Bell helped Compton return to his old form. The freshman lasted five-plus innings, surrendering five hits and only the one run.
"It was all about getting back to what I used to be," Compton said. "I spent a lot of time this week going over film. Coach Bell wanted me to take some film home from the past couple of starts where I was doing good and compare that with those shaky starts. It was just all about keeping the ball low, having that run on it, that sink to it, just really finishing the pitches. And I really wasn't doing that the past couple of starts."
The extra studying paid off, as Compton's fastball-slider combination kept the ‘Canes off balance the whole game. The win improved his record to 7-0 on the season.
Cruising through the first inning by working quickly, spotting his pitches and mixing in his off-speed stuff, Miami starter Eric Whaley provided another stiff challenge for the ‘Noles.
But the Garnet and Gold bats didn't disappoint, conquering Whaley by means of a big second inning.
Stephen McGee led off the frame with a great at-bat. After falling behind 0-2, the catcher battled to even the count and roped a single up the middle. Jose Brizuela then rolled over on one, but an errant throw to second by first baseman Esteban Tresgallo pulled shortstop Stephen Perez off the bag and both runners stood safely. After Justin Gonzalez drew a walk, John Holland faced an early, bases-loaded, pressure situation. With a 1-2 count, Holland came through by lining a single past the shortstop to push the Seminoles to a 2-0 lead. Seth Miller and Sherman Johnson then combined for back-to-back sacrifice flies to left to stretch the FSU run total to four.
"11 has been working with me a lot, just trying to see the ball as deep as possible," Holland said, "so I was just trying to let anything as deep as possible and just put it in play. It definitely feels good, given the opportunity and capitalize, show him it's something I can do."
Holland wasn't finished. He recorded his second three-hit game of the season by adding a double to right in the fifth and another single in the eighth.
"I think he is sending a message to anyone that is paying attention that he wants to be a contributor," Martin said.
With one out and Miller on first in the bottom of the eighth, a huge lightning bolt and clap of thunder sent the game into a 97-minute delay. After play finally resumed, Johnson singled and James Ramsey reached via a hit-by-pitch to load the bases and bring John Nogowski to the dish.
Normally, Jayce Boyd bats in the four hole, but persisting flu-like symptoms forced him to leave the game after three at-bats.
"Jayce tried," Martin said. "He tried hard. His first three at-bats you could tell that he was really sick, and finally I told him just to go back and get into bed, see how you feel tomorrow. He kept fighting, kept trying. Just couldn't do it."
Nogowski, his replacement, prevailed by grounding a seeing-eye single off Eric Nedeljkovic through the left side of the infield to score the Seminoles' fifth and sixth runs.
The victory marked the third straight year that the ‘Noles have won the season series over UM. Sunday's game provides the Seminoles a chance to sweep the Hurricanes, a feat last accomplished on the road at Miami in 2002. FSU's last home sweep versus the 'Canes came in 2000.
Jonathan Bockman is the baseball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a student in Sport Management at Florida State.
Compton, Weaver keep 'Canes at bay
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