Coming off a sweep of the Miami Hurricanes, Florida State stayed hot Friday night with a 17-6 mauling of the Rhode Island Rams.
Ignoring the fact that they had never faced Rhode Island, a team that had won 20 of its previous 25 games, the entire FSU lineup destroyed Rams pitching.
Jayce Boyd led the onslaught with five hits and ended the night only a triple shy of the cycle. His homer-less drought since Mar. 7 quickly came to a close in the second with a two-run line shot to left off Chris Pickering.
Hitting safely seven times in his last 11 at-bats, Boyd attributes much of his recent success to a few slight adjustments.
"Just seeing the ball a little bit longer," Boyd said after the game. "Getting my foot down early. Trying to dominate more so on the off-speed pitches. I haven't been hitting those too well lately. Staying ready for fastballs but also hitting the off-speed pitches well, too."
James Ramsey and Devon Travis fed off of Boyd's hot bat with big days of their own at the plate.
Ramsey reached base five times, highlighted by a double and his 15th career triple. He now holds sole possession of third place behind Stephen Drew and Luis Alicea for the most triples in Seminoles history.
In the third, Travis ripped a three-run home run that barely cleared the wall in left. Misreading the play, Rams left fielder Chris Famiglietti didn't budge off of contact, then at the last second sprinted back just in time to watch the ball sail over the fence.
This completely fooled Travis, who was already unsure whether he got enough of it.
"Heck ya he did [fool me]," Travis said. "I hit it and I saw the outfielder kinda just hanging out, and I was like, Alright, well, I just missed that one. And I was rounding first base just getting to second and I saw him up on top of the fence, so it worked out pretty nice."
The Rams pitchers were their own worst enemy, allowing nine free passes, drilling three FSU batters and throwing six wild pitches.
Already up 1-0, the ‘Noles capitalized on Rhode Island's pitching woes by batting around in a seven-run second frame. In the inning, Giovanny Alfonzo recorded his first collegiate RBI with a rope of a single to left to knock in John Holland. After three more ‘Noles crossed the plate, Ramsey's triple to right center, which missed clearing the fence by half a foot, scored Travis. Two pitches later, Boyd outdid Ramsey with his two-run blast to left.
Four more Garnet and Gold runs came in the sixth by way of four walks, a Holland hit-by-pitch and a Boyd single.
FSU starter Brandon Leibrandt pitched well in a bizarre outing, not allowing a walk for the first time all season and setting a career high with eight strikeouts, but he also surrendered a season-most 10 hits.
The usually steady Seminole defense made things difficult on Leibrandt by committing three errors in the third. Alfonzo, replacing the injured Justin Gonzalez at shortstop, mishandled two routine grounders, and Jose Brizuela's attempt to gun out Rhode Island shortstop Tim Caputo at home veered off course, allowing runners to advance. The Rams scored two in the inning and put up four more in the fourth after Jeff Roy's catchable flyball to the warning track in left with two outs dropped just out of Brizuela's reach, keeping the inning alive.
Despite the defensive lapses, Leibrandt managed to keep the ‘Noles from totally imploding thanks to a few words of motivation from Boyd.
"Went out there and told him, ‘First game of a regional, you're out here pitching against whoever, get out here and get it done. Lets go,'" Boyd said. "And he threw the ball really, really well. And he fought through [the third]. Looked like a circus out here for a little while. And he fought through that inning, kept his poise and did a very very good job."
Quickly turning into a go-to reliever, Gage Smith replaced Leibrandt to start the sixth and cruised through two frames, allowing only one hit. Brandon Johnson and Bryant Holtmann then combined to throw a scoreless eighth and ninth.
With two outs and runners on first and second in the eighth, Rhode Island first baseman Jeff Cammans singled to center off Johnson. Seth Miller, who moved to center to start the inning, fired a perfect one hopper to Stephen McGee at home to nail Dan Haverstick and end the inning.
Even though the offense poured on the runs, this was one of the team's more ugly wins. However, Travis feels that overcoming the mistakes revealed the most about the Seminoles.
"Good ballclubs have to get through the little nicks, and I think we did a great job of it today," Travis said. "Leibrandt especially after the couple errors and the ball in left field that could have been caught. I definitely thought, as a freshman, it's pretty crazy to see a guy that's up there, he's not even upset. He just goes to work, goes about his business the right way. And it was pretty awesome."
Jonathan Bockman is the baseball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a student in Sport Management at Florida State.
Big bats mask ugly defensive effort
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