As he sat in the shade of the first-base dugout, a sweep over Virginia Tech freshly in the books, Seminole head coach Mike Martin expressed pride not just in three straight wins, but the manner in which Florida State finished the weekend.
In fact, Martin said the series made him so proud, he couldn't find an appropriate way to express his feelings during the post-game meeting in the home clubhouse.
"When I was talking to the ball club, I tried to find the right words to say," Martin said. "And I don't think 'good weekend' was enough."
Sunday served as proof that the Seminoles possessed the killer instinct to finish off an already decided series in winning fashion. Being able to put up six runs in the first inning and 10 runs in the game's first three frames signaled to Martin that his squad knew Virginia Tech would play with desperation after back-to-back close losses.
The Hokies never got the chance.
"When you win two games, the third game is always so difficult because the other club is fighting like crazy not to lose three ball games," Martin said. "They know the trip going back is not going to be any fun, and I've been in that situation men."
The amount of offense also was a welcome sight for a batting order that had not done much outside of usual suspects Devon Travis, James Ramsey and Jayce Boyd. Shortstop Justin Gonzalez grabbed the headlines with his first-inning grand slam, but in all, hitters 6-9 in the Seminole lineup finished Sunday going 8 for 17 with seven RBI and six runs scored.
"We can't always rely on Sherman (Johnson), Devon, Ramsey and Jayce to get us going," said Gonzalez, who also doubled off the wall in right. "Sometimes we've got to have some fun too."
That productivity from the bottom half of the order is closely related to the finishing instinct Martin described. For a group that had been quiet offensively to hit the gas in game three was a big part of why the Seminoles had a happy skipper Sunday evening.
"We had some good at-bats from guys that have been in the program for a long time," Martin said. "But to see those guys on the bottom do what they did was so encouraging for us because they produced."
Holland bloops, then roars out of slump
Sunday served as an opportunity for freshman John Holland to break out of a 1 for 14 slump to start his Seminole career.
All it took was a blooper to push him in the right direction.
In his first at-bat of the afternoon, Holland dropped a soft liner in a perfect spot behind third base for a hustle double, his first extra-base hit at Florida State. It's those kind of breaks, Holland told reporters after the game, that can get things back on track.
"It seems that everything starts with a bloop hit here and then it seems to just go up from there," Holland said. "Hopefully that's what happened there and we'll see if everything keeps rolling."
For a day, Holland's offense did keep rolling. The lefty added his second double of the season, this time a hard-hit liner to right field, a single up the middle and two walks to reach base in all five plate appearances. Holland credits working with hitting coach Mike Martin Jr. on keeping a more level swing plane as the reason for his success. If he can stay flat through the zone and stand more closed, Holland said, the results should come.
As good as this performance was for Holland's confidence - his average shot up from .071 to .235 - his head coach still needs to see more if the freshman is going to have regular at-bats in the designated hitter's spot.
"His stroke is getting better," Martin said. "Long way to go but nothing is sealed in concrete."
Brandon Leibrandt, Mike Compton, Peter Miller
FSU starting pitchers
Leibrandt, Compton and Miller all flirted with or set new career highs for innings pitched this weekend, combining to go 19.2 innings as a staff. Leibrandt was stellar on Friday night, going seven shutout innings and allowing just five hits while striking out four. As good as that performance was, Compton made a strong case for the best start of the weekend in his 7.2 inning gem Saturday night, as the freshman gave up one run on six hits while striking out a career-high eight. And on Sunday, Peter Miller battled through some challenging innings to tie a career high in innings pitched (5.0) while allowing just two runs in the blowout victory.
"I'll take that every weekend," said a smiling coach Martin. "Just very, very pleased with the way the young men responded."
Amongst the impressive numbers are the total walks allowed. In those 19.2 innings, Seminole starters walked just four Hokies this weekend. Add those walks to the hits against, and the starters' WHIP number finished at an impressive 1.02.
Friday- Florida State 5, Virginia Tech 2 - W: Brandon Leibrandt (3-1); L: Joe Mantiply (3-2).
Saturday - Florida State 2, Virginia Tech 1 - W: Mike Compton (6-0); L: Marc Zecchino (2-4) ; S: Robert Benincasa (9).
Sunday - Florida State 11, Virginia Tech 4 - W: Peter Miller (4-1); L: Andrew Aizenstadt (2-2).
Next up: Florida Gulf Coast at Florida State, (Tallahassee, Fla.), Tuesday/Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. ET.
Florida State announced that Scott Sitz (1-1, 2.49 ERA) will pitch Tuesday night against Florida Gulf Coast, followed by Luke Weaver (1-0, 8.36 ERA) on Wednesday night.
Third baseman Sherman Johnson has reached base safely in all 28 games this season.
Only closer Robert Benincasa threw more than an inning in relief this weekend. Benincasa had Sunday off, finishing with 2.0 innings pitched and one save. Oft-used Gage Smith, Hunter Scantling and Brian Busch each pitched one full inning apiece.
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