Scott Sitz's season-long dominance was one of the main reasons why Florida State earned a national seed in the NCAA Tournament so it was only fitting that the 'Noles' ace opened regional play Friday night with a strong showing on the mound. And just as fittingly, his always-quotable head coach summed up the night best. "It was the Scotty Sitz Show tonight," said FSU coach Mike Martin, who has led FSU to NCAA play in each of his 34 years in charge of the program.
Sitz, a 2013 First Team All-ACC selection and Louisville Slugger Third Team All-American with more post-season hardware sure to follow, looked every bit like his regular-season self at Dick Howser Stadium in No. 7-seeded FSU's 10-0 smack down of Savannah State. The man with college baseball's most recognizable mustache pitched 7 1/3 strong innings and allowed just seven hits while tossing eight strikeouts and no walks.
With the win, the Seminoles (45-15) now face Troy Saturday at 5 p.m. after the Trojans (41-18) beat Alabama (34-27) in the first game of the Tallahassee Regional earlier in the day. The Tigers and Crimson Tide will meet Saturday at noon with the loser of that game headed home in season-ending fashion.
Luke Weaver will get the start Saturday for the Seminoles, who will be the visiting team against Troy as the Trojans were the visiting team in their first game on Friday afternoon. While Sitz (10-1, 1.59 ERA) had his way with the MEAC-champion Tigers' (33-22) lineup, his counterpart didn't fare quite as well.
Savannah State ace Kyle McGowin entered post-season play with a school-record 104 strikeouts and just 37 runs allowed while giving up just 17 earned runs all year. He is expected to become the first Savannah State player selected in the MLB Draft since 2003 but that didn't stop the 'Noles from lighting him up. McGowin (12-2) finished the game with season highs in earned runs (10) and walks (six) while tying his season high with nine hits allowed as his ERA rose from 1.33 to 2.02.
NCAA postseason newcomers D.J. Stewart and Marcus Davis were McGowin's least favorite 'Noles to face. Stewart, a freshman outfielder, went 3-for-4 with three runs, three hits and three RBI while Davis, a former junior-college star in his first year at FSU, did just as much damage to the MEAC Pitcher of the Year with a game-high four RBIs behind his own 3-for-4 showing at the plate. Stephen McGee added a two-run home run and Jose Brizuela also had an RBI.
Brandon Johnson came on in relief of Sitz and pitched 1 2/3 innings and gave up just three hits on 30 pitches. Stewart got things going Friday when drew a walk to start the bottom of the second and then stole second base with two outs. McGee's walk then put runners on first and second and Brizuela smacked a double off the right-center wall that plated Stewart and gave FSU an early 1-0 lead.
Savannah State's David Richards opened the second inning with his own standup double before a catcher's interference call on McGee put a second runner on base. But Sitz worked out of the jam and struck out Darien Campbell to get out of the top half of the inning unscathed. Seth Miller then lead off FSU's second inning with a double down the right-field line before advancing to third on a wild pitch to Giovanny Alfonzo. Josh Delph then reached base to put runners on the corners and Stewart's RBI grounder up the middle scored Miller and extended the 'Noles' lead to 2-0 with two outs.
That lead then ballooned to 4-0 thanks to Davis' 18th double of the year that scored Delph and Stewart -- and the 'Noles weren't done.
Showing no signs of injury from the catcher's inference call that inning despite the fact that the bat bounced off his left hand on the play, McGee then clobbered a two-run homerun off the scoreboard for a 6-0 lead. McGee said after the game that he sustained a bruise on his hand it shouldn't affect him moving forward.
All four of FSU's second-inning runs came with two outs. The top of the fourth saw Savannah State put two runners into scoring position with just one out before a mound visit by Martin to chat with his All-American ace. That talk worked; Sitz then retired the next two batters to preserve the shutout.
Sitz may have worked out of a jam but McGowin wasn't nearly as lucky. FSU quickly loaded the bases in the bottom of the third and once again Stewart made the most of it with a two-run double. Davis then stepped to the plate and launched his own two-run double that literally bounce off the top of the right field fence -- a mere inch or so from a home run. Friday's win marked the 147th victory in regional/super regional play for the 'Noles -- the most of any team in the nation.