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June 20, 2012
OMAHA -- After each game Florida State captain James Ramsey hands out a plastic wrestling championship belt to the game's top performer.
On Tuesday night there was no need to wait until the team got back in the clubhouse to present the belt as he handed it over to starting pitcher Scott Sitz on the field.
Sitz (4-3) stuck out eight batters, allowed just one earned run on five hits and one walk in 6.2 inning pitched as FSU eliminated UCLA 4-1 from the College World Series in its second straight elimination game.
"That was probably the best I've ever thrown my breaking ball," Sitz said. "I honestly have been working on it all year. I guess I finally found everything that I was doing wrong and fixed it, and came up with some quality pitches tonight."
Sitz cruised through three perfect innings before allowing a lead off single in the fourth. In the top of the sixth Sitz worked himself into bases-loaded, no outs jam.
After giving up an RBI single to Cody Keefer, Sitz proceeded to strike out the next three batters with a barrage of sliders. Not only did Stiz get out of the jam allowing just one run, but he did it by striking out the Bruins' 4-5-6 hitters.
"In the sixth inning when they had the bases loaded and I had already given up one run, I was thinking to myself, that's all they get," Sitz said. "I was just thinking to myself, this could be the last batter that I face, so I've got to get him, and I gave it my all. They stuck with me. And after that third strikeout, I don't think I've ever been more pumped up in my life."
The decision to keep the Jacksonville Beach native in the game was an unusual one for head coach Mike Martin. It's very rare that Martin allows his pitchers to stay in the game when in tough situations like the sixth, and Sitz had only pitched more than five innings three times all season.
"He was throwing the ball well," Martin said. "He had gotten two strikes on the hitter (before hitting Tyler Heinman to load the bases). He's not all over everywhere. I felt comfortable and I just decided to stay with him."
The decision paid off as Stiz got of the jam and retired the first two batters he faced in the seventh inning before giving way to Hunter Scantling.
After striking out the final batter in the sixth inning, Sitz said he wasn't even sure if the batter swung but just knew he had thrown strike three to keep the game in tact.
"Just a great feeling to get those three outs," he said. "I was really happy they had faith in me to get those outs, because I know we had guys in the bullpen that could come in and get the job done. I was really happy with that, and that I got out of the situation with only giving up one run. I couldn't even tell you if the last batter swung. I had to go back in the dugout and ask our catcher if he swung. It was just an awesome feeling."
While the performance for Sitz was big for FSU because it helped keep them alive in the CWS against UCLA, it also was vital because it sets up the bullpen for another elimination game on Thursday.
Sitz pitched 6.2 innings, followed by 1.1 by Scantling and a perfect ninth inning by Robert Benincasa. With Brandon Leibrandt making the start on Thursday at 5 p.m. ET against Arizona, the entire bullpen will be available behind him which will be a big boost should FSU win and force fourth elimination game on Friday.
"Sitz getting out there and doing what he did-I'm just so happy for him and proud of him for what he did," Scantling said." We know he's capable of doing that every night?we were expecting good things and I was just happy for him to go out there and do it and to come out for the W was just huge for us."
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