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June 2, 2012
With plenty of pep left in his step after eight dominant innings and 110 unrelenting pitches, Florida State starter Brandon Leibrandt jogged off the mound with a career performance in his back pocket. He jumped clear of the third base chalk, out of the way of superstition and into a scrum of jubilant teammates.
In the biggest game of his FSU tenure to date, and in his team's biggest game of the season to date, Leibrandt, a true freshman, delivered Florida State's finest pitching performance of 2012. The left-hander was unrelenting, tossing eight shutout innings against heavy-swinging Samford, setting a career high with 10 strikeouts and retiring the final 15 batters he faced in the 8-1 win in the NCAA Regional on Saturday night.
"To go out there in that arena in those conditions with poise and being in control of everything is what (Leibrandt) is all about and certainly what our program is all about," FSU head coach Mike Martin said. "I'm very, very pleased with the way he took control of the situation."
From any scope, Leibrandt (7-2) had his way with a potent Bulldog lineup that was hitting .305 as a team and ranked among the nation's top 10 in hits (651; fifth), home runs (66; second), slugging percentage (.466; ninth) and runs (430, sixth). He allowed just three hits and walked no one on Saturday.
"I was trying to get ahead with my fastball and mix it up, stay within my spots," said Leibrandt, who has held down the No. 1 spot in FSU's rotation since becoming the first true freshman to ever make an opening day start at FSU. "They chased a couple of pitches. I just tried my best to make key pitches in key situations and it just worked out well."
Martin said he didn't bring Leibrandt out for the ninth inning because he had already thrown more pitches than he had all season and wanted to prevent overuse.
Leibrandt surely got the most out of the 110 he did throw.
"Obviously, the story of the night was the (Brandon) Leibrandt kid. He threw phenomenal," Samford coach Casey Dunn said. "I thought he really got us out of sync and out of rhythym early on and really did a great job of pitching both sides of the plate. Obviously, that was the story of the night."
Leibrandt's best compliment of the night accidentally came from Martin, who almost called Leibrandt Charlie - Brandon's father and a former major league standout - before correcting himself and raving about the younger Leibrandt's effort.
"I didn't realize he had gotten 15 in a row (to end his night)," Martin said. "But I knew he was cooking."
Yep, Leibrandt cooked up quite a performance on Florida State's biggest stage to date.
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