In a game quite the opposite of Friday's beatdown of Rhode Island, Florida State still emerged victorious Saturday.
This time, freshman Mike Compton and the bullpen led the Seminoles to a scrappy 2-0 win by combining to allow a measly two hits.
Compton threw six innings and allowed two base knocks before passing the reigns to Brian Busch, who threw a dominant seventh. Hunter Scantling rebounded from a rough previous outing versus Miami by taking only six pitches to cruise through an easy eighth before Robert Benincasa picked up his 11th save in a 1-2-3 ninth.
After the game, coach Mike Martin marveled at the work of his pitching staff.
"Any way you look at this game, it starts with the guy on the bump," Martin said. "We got four guys that went out there and pitched extremely well, from Compton to Scantling to Busch to Benincasa. It was an encouraging lift for us to see certainly the six innings out of Compton, but to see Busch look a little bit like the Brian Busch that's been here for three years. And it was a good win for us."
When a Chris Famiglietti grounder uncharacteristically squeaked through Jayce Boyd's legs to put two on with no outs in the first, the ‘Noles appeared destined to repeat their lackluster defensive performance from the day prior. But Boyd rebounded two batters later by backhanding a difficult in-between hop from Giovanny Alfonzo in completion of an inning-ending double play.
Boyd's scoop seemed to reverse Friday's defensive misfortunes, as the Seminoles went on to play flawless defense. Devon Travis owned the right side of the infield, fielding four grounders and completing double-play feeds with ease, while Alfonzo played with a renewed confidence at shortstop.
In the fourth, Sherman Johnson's tough pickup in the hole and throw on the run to second base initiated one of the smoothest double plays all year.
"I just remember it was a one hop to my forehand side," Johnson said. "I was like, Just get to the ball. Just catch it. And I got to it and I caught it, and I was like, Alright, well, just throw it. Just wanted to make sure I got it to Devon. I knew he could turn it. He's got the quickest hands I've ever seen out of anybody that I've ever played with, so I knew that if I just got it to him we'd get a double play."
"The play Sherman made was a big-league play," Martin added. "That was just as good as it gets."
After putting up 17 runs Friday, the ‘Noles struggled to score off Rams starter Nick Narodowy but managed to cross the plate twice thanks to walks and more hit batters.
Johnson opened the first with a leadoff walk, Travis singled him to second and then James Ramsey was drilled for the first of two times on the day to load the bases. Boyd followed with a sac fly to right to score Johnson, but a Stephen McGee groundball double play ended the threat and the chance of any additional runs.
Rhode Island pitchers beamed six Seminoles, bringing the series total to nine. Before Saturday, Stephen Spradling had been nailed an astonishing eight times by opposing pitchers.
Narodowy opened the second frame by hitting Spradling for the ninth time.
"Sometimes it gets frustrating 'cause I obviously want to swing the bat," Spradling said, "but it's never too frustrating when you know you're helping out your team getting on base. I'll wear a pitch every time to get on base to help the team."
Following Spradling, right fielder Josh Delph laced a double down the right field line. On the play, Spradling flew around second hoping for a chance to score but stumbled and faceplanted into the dirt halfway to third.
"I'm not really sure [what happened]," Spradling said. "I hit second base and was going and I was thinking, I'm going home, and I don't know if it's where I got hit by the pitch in the leg, but something gave out and I just ended up on my face there pretty good. But I just got up and ran to third."
After the Rams forced Alfonzo into a soft liner to second and fanned Jose Brizuela, Spradling feared he missed his only chance to score. But he took advantage of the next opportunity, sprinting home on a passed ball and sliding safely to score FSU's second and final run.
The victory revealed once again the Garnet and Gold's ability to win all different types of ballgames. Even after the pounding delivered Friday, the ‘Noles prevailed in a rare low-scoring affair.
"That's baseball," Spradling said. "[Rhode Island] is not a bad team at all. They're a good team. We just were on their pitching yesterday, and we just took advantage of that. Today, [their] pitching came out, threw a little better, and we just grinded like we do when we're not swinging the bats. Our pitchers came out, pitched awesome, and we just grinded out the win."
Jonathan Bockman is the baseball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a student in Sport Management at Florida State.
Compton and Co. hold Rams to two hits
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