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February 24, 2012

Missed opportunities cost FSU in 8-5 loss to FIU

Florida State finally dug itself a hole it couldn't climb out of on Friday night as they were defeated by Florida International 8-5 for its first lost of the season.

The No. 8 Seminoles (4-1) have fallen behind early in all five games this season and allowed at least six runs in each game. Friday the Panthers (1-3) scored four runs in the first two innings as freshman starter Brandon Leibrandt (1-1) lasted just 2.2 innings in his second career start as he took the loss.

FSU had plenty of opportunities for another comeback as they left at least two runners on base in every inning but the fourth and fifth and left a grand total of 15 base runners stranded.

"That's just the nature of the beast," Seminoles head coach Mike Martin said. "Our guys fought. There was no give up. We had a couple of chances, couple of mistakes. The mental mistakes, it's a shame they don't show up in the stats. We made some mental mistakes that put us behind the eight ball but give them credit for executing and taking advantage of our mental mistakes."

There was no mental mistake bigger for the home team than in the fifth inning. FSU had cut the lead to 6-5 earlier in the inning thanks to an RBI single from freshman DH John Nogowski and a fielder's choice RBI by fellow freshman Jose Brizuela.

With just one out and Nogowski on third, Brizuela was caught leaning by FIU pitcher [db]R.J. Fondon. With Brizuela caught in a run down, Nogowski made a late move home where he was tagged out as Brizulea advanced to second. Stephen McGee grounded out to end the inning.

"It's nothing but youth," Martin said of the sequence of events. "(Brizuela) didn't think he'd throw over there the next time. Because it's a full count 'He's not going to throw over on me.' But he'll learn from it."

Fordon (1-1) put forth a gutsy performance to earn the win as he threw 104 pitches in 5.1 innings of work, which included a 54 minute rain delay. He gave up five runs, three earned, on eight hits and four walks with two strikeouts.

Leibrandt became the third Seminole starter this season to not make it passes of the third inning this season. The lefty threw just 71 pitches, gave up four earned runs on five hits and four walks with four strikeouts.

"He was making some pitches that he doesn't ordinarily make and I don't know how to really explain it," Martin said. "That happens also. He was ahead of a number of hitters but give them credit, they came back and got a pitch that maybe he wished he had had back."

In the ninth inning Devon Travis came to the plate representing the tying run as McGee was on second and Sherman Johnson on second. Travis hit the ball hard up the middle but Michael Gomez made nice play to glove the ball and throw to first to pick up the save.

"It was just one of those days," Travis said. "You give them all the credit. There pitchers did a good job. I think their first pitcher threw over 100 pitches which is saying a lot. It was just one of those days where we had our chances and just didn't capitalize."



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