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May 31, 2012
Florida State (43-15) opens up the NCAA Tournament on Friday evening at 6 p.m. against the University of Alabama-Birmingham (32-28).
On the mound for the Seminoles will be junior Scott Sitz (3-3, 4.14 ERA). Sitz has made 15 appearances this season, 11 of which have been starts, including one in the ACC Tournament opener against Georgia Tech last Wednesday.
After Sitz, the Seminoles' postseason rotation will be Brandon Leibrandt (6-2, 2.91 ERA) on Saturday and Mike Compton (10-2, 2.88 ERA) on Sunday. Head coach Mike Martin said rest and experience were the two main factors in electing to go with Sitz.
"Scotty number one has been pitching very well and he's the most rested of our pitchers," Martin said. "This is not anything new to him, if I'm not mistaken he pitched in Omaha so this is not anything new to him. Not that we're concerned with (Leibrandt), it being new to him, he's pitched on Friday nights against everybody that we've played this year. It's just a decision that we think Scotty is a good choice."
Sitz has made five career NCAA Tournament appearances, all in relief. He is 1-0 with a 4.22 ERA and a save in 10.2 innings pitched. In 2010 he pitched a pair of scoreless innings at the College World Series in losses to TCU.
Last season Sitz earned a four-inning save over Alabama in the Regional final. The game resumed on Monday afternoon after being suspended by thunderstorms the night before. He also earned the lone win of Super Regionals over Texas A&M, giving up five earned runs on seven hits and two walks in a 23-9 blowout.
In his last outing against the Yellow Jackets in the ACC Tournament, the junior from Jacksonville took the loss as he gave up four earned runs on five hits and two walks in 4.2 innings.
"I felt like I threw OK," Sitz said of the start. "It wasn't my best, but I threw alright. I got out of some jams so I was happy with that."
Sitz said on Friday he hopes to get FSU off to a good start in the tournament because he knows how hard it can be to come out of the loser's bracket.
"I have to go out there and throw good and we have to win that first game to set us up for the rest of the Regionals," he said. "If you lose one game you have to play so many more games to get out of Regionals so I just feel like winning is the most important thing."
In his 11 starts this season, Sitz hasn't pitched more than six innings, and pitched less than five innings in six of those starts. He is hoping to go at least six on Friday to help set up the bullpen for the rest of the weekend.
"That's always the plan for me," Sitz said. "I know going five would get me the win but I'd like to go six or seven. I think I can do that."
Time for younger bats to step up
If Florida State is going to get back on track after an 0-3 ACC Tournament run, it will need to get more production from the bottom of its lineup.
In Greensboro, the bottom four batters - freshmen Josh Delph, John Nogowski, Jose Brizuela along with junior Justin Gonzalez - were a combined 6 for 40 with seven walks.
Gonzalez drove in the only two runs for the bottom four, one of which came on a solo home run against Clemson.
Junior second baseman Devon Travis said he thinks the young bottom of the order is ready to step up in the postseason.
"They're going to be huge and I think they're ready," Travis said. "These last couple days of practices have really let them know everything is all right. All the older guys around here laughing and joking and being themselves is important. ... I think that the young guys seeing the older guys happy and upbeat, ready to play some baseball I definitely think it's really good."
Fellow junior Jayce Boyd also said he has faith in the freshmen to get things going, which is a necessity when you're facing possible elimination.
"Our whole lineup is huge from here on out," Boyd said. "We can't rely on one or two people on the mound or in the box to carry our team or anything like that. It takes a definite team effort to do that. There's no doubt in my mind they're going to come up huge."
Boyd and Ramsey named Golden Spikes Award semifinalists
On Tuesday afternoon senior center fielder James Ramsey and junior first baseman Jayce Boyd were recognized for their stellar regular seasons by USA Baseball as they were named semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award.
Just 30 players made the list for the award, which has been presented to the nation's top amateur baseball player the past 35 years.
Ramsey was named ACC Player of the Year as he hit .382 with 12 home runs and 49 RBI this season. Boyd led the ACC with a .395 batting average and had three home runs and 55 RBI. Ramsey made the preseason watch list and was included on the mid-season watch list released at the beginning of May, while Boyd's first appearance on the watch list came on Tuesday.
"It's really cool," Boyd said. "It was something that was really unexpected. I wasn't on the first list and was a little disappointed about that, thought I was having a pretty good year. Then the list comes out and knowing that I've made that list is really special to me and really cool, especially to be on there with Ramsey."
Travis said he couldn't be happier for his two teammates to be in contention for such a prestigious award.
"You can't say enough," Travis said of them. "When I saw that I went into a complete trance. I thought it was so cool. Hearing your name and Golden Spikes in the same sentence is pretty awesome. It's just something they've always worked so hard for and it's not something that they've been shooting for but they've had such a great year. Without those guys we wouldn't be near the team that we are."
"Very rewarding and understandable," Martin added. "You've got one that led the league in hitting and another that was the ACC Player of the Year. So I would say that that is justifiable and I'm very proud of them. They'll tell you that it's nice but there's only one thing on their mind right now."
Ramsey and Boyd were honored again on Thursday when they were named 2012 All-Americans by Louisville Slugger. Ramsey to the first-team and Boyd to the second-team. Travis also garnered second-team honors and closer Robert Benincasa was named a third-team All-American.
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