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June 3, 2012
So much for those late-season struggles.
With an 0-3 ACC Tournament performance squarely in the rear view, Florida State barreled through the NCAA regional with a complete effort - stellar pitching, strong defense and hitting throughout the lineup - and took home its fifth consecutive regional title this weekend.
The Seminoles capped their dominating run with a 5-2 win over Samford at Dick Howser Stadium on Sunday night. FSU (46-15) will advance to the Super Regionals for the fifth consecutive year, and will face either Stanford or Pepperdine in Tallahassee next weekend. Game dates and times will be announced Monday night.
"(My team) is very mature, they did not panic," FSU coach Mike Martin said of the team's turnaround. Florida State has now won 16 straight regional games. "They went out there and did what they needed to do and played very well for three ballgames."
Facing Samford (41-23) for the second straight day, Florida State jumped on the Bulldogs with five runs in the first three innings. A Josh Delph two-run single got the scoring started in the second inning before Joze Brizuela's sac fly pushed it to 3-0. Catcher Stephen McGee added a two-run single of his own in the third to extend it to 5-0. All told, the Seminoles' No. 5 through No. 9 hitters - a point of inconsistency throughout the 2012 season - combined to go 4 of 14 and record all five RBI on Sunday.
"(Production at the bottom of the order) was huge," Delph said. "Me and (No. 6 hitter Justin Gonzalez) joked around in the locker room after the game (Saturday) night that the bottom of the order is going to take over today because we hadn't been doing so hot early in the regionals. It just felt great."
The early run support was plenty for starting pitcher Mike Compton (11-2), who allowed just five hits, one earned run and walked no one in six innings of work. Compton induced double play balls to third base in the fifth in sixth innings to work out of the minimal trouble he faced.
"It was mainly just changing the speeds and working the corners," Compton said..
Samford scratched its two runs across in the fifth inning as a throwing error and a double gave the Bulldogs runners on second and third with none out. With one out, Austin Allison laced a single near the line in right field to score both runs, but the threat was ended quickly with a double play ball.
The Bulldogs' final threat game with two on and none out in the seventh with FSU reliever Gage Smith on the hill taking over for Compton. Smith picked Samford's Brandon Miller off of second base, then got two more outs to get out of the jam.
FSU closer Robert Benincasa worked a perfect ninth inning for his 15th save of the season.
Between Compton and Saturday starter Brandon Leibrandt, who dominated Samford in an 8-1 win, the Seminoles' top two pitchers issued no walks in a combined 14 innings against the Bulldogs. Florida State allowed just four runs in the three wins this weekend, the fewest allowed in a postseason tournament by any FSU team.
"I felt their staff both nights had a really good plan as far as how to pitch us," Samford coach Casey Dunn said. "They made more adjustments against our hitters than we made against their pitchers I think that was the difference from the mental side of the approach."
Florida State outfielder James Ramsey was name the Tallahassee Regional's Most Outstanding Player. Delph, third baseman Sherman Johnson, and Leibrandt were also named to the All-Region team.
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