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June 15, 2012
Florida State had plenty of chances to win against Arizona in its College Word Series opener on Friday night, but never took advantage as the Wildcats won 4-3 in 12 innings.
Despite a number of defensive miscues, the Seminoles were able rally back and give themselves a chance to win thanks to some key contributions from a talented freshmen class.
In the sixth inning it was a two-run double by John Holland that got FSU back in game as it tied the game at 3-3. Holland was just 1 for 5 in the game but his big knock was undoubtedly the biggest hit. Fellow freshman Josh Delph, who scored on the Holland double, was 1 for 4 with a double of his own and a walk.
"I'm very, very pleased with both John and Josh, the way they got up there and didn't chase balls out of the zone," head coach Mike Martin said. "Very pleased with the freshmen. Certainly John's big hit going the other way was something that he spent a lot of time on recently."
Delph set up the big hit for Holland as he drew a two-out walk as both Stephen McGee and Justin Gonzalez struck out with Jayce Boyd on first ahead of him.
Holland got down 0-2 quickly to Arizona starter Kurt Heyer, but was able to take a breaking ball and lace it into the gap to tie the game.
"Definitely knew what he had and what he was going to be trying to be throw," Holland said. " He just left the pitch over the plate that I was able to get a barrel on. It felt good. I thought it was a good boost and energy level that we had in the dugout to try and keep putting it on them."
Holland and Delph weren't the only young Seminoles who impressed in their CWS debuts.
Redshirt sophomore Gage Smith gave up just one hit and two walks in his 2.2 innings of work. The sidewinder entered the game in the top of the fifth with runners on the corners and one out. Smith gave up an RBI single through the right side, and even when FSU's defense let him down - dropping the ball in a rundown that would have given Smith two outs and just one runner on first - the Tallahassee native was unfazed.
He proceeded to get a much needed double play ball to end the inning and keep it a 3-1 lead for the Wildcats.
Smith came in to relive true freshman starter Brandon Leibrandt who exited after just 4.1 innings. Leibrandt allowed three runs, six hits and no walks with five strikeouts in his third career postseason start.
"I thought he had a good outing," Martin said. "He was at 84 pitches. Couple of situations occurred, and we thought it was time to get him out of the ballgame and go to the bullpen. That's what we've done most of the year. But I thought he had another outstanding outing. Brandon was poised. And to come in and start a College World Series as a 19 year old freshman, I was just very, very excited for him, the way he worked."
If FSU is going last more than just two games in the CWS it will have to rely on another true freshman to extend its time in Omaha. Mike Compton (11-2, 2.86 ERA) will start on Sunday against Stony Brook at 5 p.m. ET in an elimination game.
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