Top-ranked Florida State (40-11, 21-5 ACC) did all it could to battle back from an eight-run deficit in Game 1 of a doubleheader against Clemson (31-20, 16-10 ACC) on Monday afternoon but the come-from-behind effort fell just short, as the Seminoles fell to the Tigers 9-7 inside Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
With Clemson leading 9-1 after five innings of play, the Seminoles slowly chipped away at the lead by scoring two runs each in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings.
Florida State would not go away quietly in the ninth, putting the tying run at second with one out following three consecutive singles by pinch hitter Stephen Spradling, John Nogowski and Seth Miller. But Scott Firth would settle down to get the final two outs to preserve the win for the Tigers and secure his second save of the season.
"That just shows what this ballclub is all about," said coach Mike Martin on his team's fight. "To be down 9-1 on the road at Clemson, one of the toughest places to play in all of college baseball, is quite a credit to our young men. I am very proud of them."
Josh Delph led the Seminoles with a career-high three hits, while Jayce Boyd drove in a team-high two runs in the losing effort. Nogowski finished 2 for 5 with a pair of singles for the 'Noles.
Clemson was the beneficiary of two nice defensive plays by center fielder Thomas Brittle that robbed the Seminoles of a pair of base hits and quite possibly was the difference maker.
With runners at first and second and two outs in the eighth, Giovanny Alfonzo hit a line drive to short center, but Brittle got a great jump on the ball and made a spectacular diving catch for the third out of the inning.
In the ninth, Brittle made another diving catch on a soft liner by Boyd, which resulted in a sac fly and the first out of the inning.
"It was an excellent catch, and he also made a great play on Boyd's fly out in the ninth," added Martin. "We just made a few mistakes early and were not able to overcome them."
Peter Miller was tremendous in relief, throwing 4 1/3 innings of one-hit, shutout baseball to allow the Seminoles a chance at the come-from-behind victory. Miller walked three and struck out two.
"Peter did a very good job," said Martin. "I am very proud of him. We have been waiting to see if he is ready, and hopefully this will put him in the mix against NC State this weekend."
Starter Mike Compton (9-1) suffered his first loss of the season in 13 starts, lasting just 1 1/3 innings and marking his shortest outing of the season. The freshman right hander gave up six runs -- three earned -- on six hits, as he walked one and struck out a batter.
Clemson struck first on consecutive two-out hits by Richie Shaffer and Phil Pohl in the first inning. Shaffer doubled down the line in left and scored on Pohl's RBI single to left center. The Tigers looked to add another run in the inning, as Jay Baum laced a double down the left field line, but a nice relay throw from Jose Brizuela and Sherman Johnson to Stephen McGee got Pohl out at the plate for the final out of the inning.
McGee laced a sharp single back up the middle off Clemson starter Kevin Pohle (6-2) in the top of the second for the first Florida State hit of game. After a wild pitch and groundout got McGee to third, Pohle would keep the Seminoles scoreless by getting John Holland to fly out to Shaffer in foul territory.
The Tigers added to their lead in the second, scoring five more runs to take a commanding 6-0 lead. Clemson sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning, producing three hits, two walks and a hit by pitch. The Seminoles were charged with two errors, which led to three of the five runs scored to be unearned.
The Seminoles cut the deficit to 6-1 with a run in the third. Delph and Brizuela opened the inning with back-to-back singles, while Devon Travis brought home Delph for FSU's first run of the game on a fielder's-choice groundout.
Clemson extended its lead to 9-1, adding three more runs on two outs in the bottom of the fourth. A pair of walks by Kyle Bird came back to haunt him, as Spence Kieboom brought them both home on a double to left. Brad Felder followed with a two-out single back up the middle to plate Kieboom and give the Tigers an eight-run lead. The back-to-back base hits would end the afternoon for Bird after 2 1/3 innings of work.
Miller entered the game in the fourth and issued a walk to the first batter he faced but followed with a strikeout of Steve Wilkerson. Wilkerson reached on a wild pitch to load the bases. Miller would get out of the inning, as Brittle flew out to right.
Bird would give up three runs on two hits in en route to posting season highs for walks (five) and strikeouts (four).
Florida State took advantage of a throwing error by Shaffer in the sixth to plate a pair of runs and cut the Clemson lead to 9-3. James Ramsey drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a single to left by Boyd. A groundout to first by Lee Howard moved the runners up 90 feet with two outs. Both runners would come around to score on a higher chopper off the bat of Nogowski. Shaffer rushed his throw over to first short, hopping Jon McGibbon to allow Ramsey and Boyd to score.
The Seminoles continued to chip away at the Clemson lead, scoring two more runs in the seventh to cut the deficit to 9-5. FSU loaded the bases on a hit-by-pitch, a fielder's-choice putout and a walk. Ramsey brought home the first run of the inning, as he was hit by a pitch. Boyd followed with a sac fly to center to score Alfonzo for the second run of the inning.
Clemson looked to add more in the seventh when Brittle connected on a one-out triple to the gap in right center. But Miller got Shaffer swinging on strikes and then two batters later got Baum to pop out to second to end the inning and keep the Clemson lead at 9-5.
The loss marked the first ACC series loss for the Seminoles and the first weekend series loss of the season. Florida State's magic number to clinch the Atlantic Division title remains at one.
Florida State and Clemson are back at it for Game 3 of the series at 6:00 p.m. on Monday.
FSU's comeback effort falls short
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