Clemson shocks FSU with a ninth inning walkof

After Georgia Tech won big over Virginia earlier in the afternoon Friday, Florida State knew that advancing to the finals of the ACC Tournament was impossible. Jon McGibbon's walk off home run in the ninth handed the Seminoles their second loss in two days and made things feel even worse.

Coach Mike Martin recognized the pain from the loss, but showed no surprise based off a few FSU miscues.

"Yeah it hurts," said Martin. "Clemson did a great job of keeping their poise, coming back and getting the job done. We proved again that if you make mistakes and give good teams extra outs, they will take advantage of it and that is exactly what Clemson did tonight."

Leading 7-6 in the ninth, Robert Benincasa fanned Clemson's star third baseman Richie Shaffer in just three pitches. Then trailing 0-2 in the count, Phil Pohl chopped a single up the middle to start the downward spiral. Pinch hitter Mike Dunster reached when Jayce Boyd's bizarre behind the back toss to Benincasa went off track, setting up McGibbon's three-run walk off heroics on a low breaking ball.

"Benincasa proved he is human," Martin said. "Because that young man has pitched almost flawlessly for us all year. But you have to credit Clemson University; they did a great job of getting it done."

In multiple occurrences, it appeared the ‘Noles dealt the Tigers the winning blow, but Clemson continued to battle back to stay within striking distance.

FSU jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third by stringing together five hits, highlighted by RBI's on Devon Travis's double to left and on singles from James Ramsey, Jayce Boyd, and Justin Gonzalez.

In the 4th, Clemson chipped away at the FSU lead when McGibbon doubled down the right field line to score Pohl from second.

Justin Gonzalez countered in the top of the fifth by ripping a solo shot to right for his eighth long ball of the year. Instead of deflating from Gonzalez's blast, Clemson rebounded with two more in the bottom of the frame after Shaffer's popup fell just fair in right for a run scoring double, prior to Pohl's bouncer that snuck under the charging Gonzalez's glove to make it a 5-4 FSU advantage.

The ‘Noles two insurance runs in the eighth seemingly put the game away, especially with Benincasa's arm waiting around the corner.

With two outs, Sherman Johnson and Travis both drew walks, and then Ramsey scored Johnson by roping a single off the wall in right. Boyd followed by knocking in Travis with a sharp single to left, his third base hit of the day, to make it 7-4.

Clemson wasted no time in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with only one out on the combination of a pair of singles off Gage Smith and a walk by Bryant Holtmann. Benincasa entered the game, and surrendered a seeing-eye single off the bat of Spencer Kieboom through the left side of the infield, scoring two Tigers.

Benincasa forced leadoff hitter Steve Wilkerson to popup to shortstop, and then fanned Thomas Brittle to prevent any further damage in the eighth, but the Clemson three-run ninth turned FSU's day sour for good.

The ‘Noles missed a chance in the fourth to stretch their 4-1 lead as Boyd popped up to third and Stephen McGee grounded out to second to leave the bases loaded.

FSU starter Brandon Leibrandt lasted 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, only two of them earned, and striking out three. It wasn't his best outing, but the errors by Travis and Gonzalez that each allowed a run definitely made Leibrandt's road a little rockier.

The ‘Noles possess the talent to make a run this campaign, but the entire team needs to play to its potential, or else the swoon of late will quickly turn into a long off-season.

For now, Ramsey just looks ahead to the next day to attempt to right the ship.

"It's baseball, that's why it's the greatest game that we play," said Ramsey. "I think that it can turn that quickly; sometimes guys hit the ball, sometimes they don't, sometimes you give them opportunities and it is just the way it goes. We are going to battle through this, come out tomorrow against a very good Virginia team and put it all out on the line."

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