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March 18, 2012

FSU defeats UVA 4-3 with eighth inning rally

All afternoon long Florida State was searching for the timely hit to break through against Virginia, which led the game for seven innings.

The sixth-ranked Seminoles finally got the hits they were looking for as they scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning for the 4-3 win to clinch the series over UVA and improve to 5-0 in conference play.

Jayce Boyd tied the game at three with a two-run double off the screen in right, and Stephen McGee drove in the winning run on an RBI ground out. Robert Benincasa came in firing and struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth inning to pick up his sixth save of the year.

"There was a lot of composure shown by our guys when we fell behind," FSU head coach Mike Martin said. "There was no panic, there was no trying to hit a six-run home run. Everybody stayed poised. It was a good win for us."

UVA (11-7-1, 2-3 ACC) jumped out to a two-run lead in the third inning on a bases-loaded RBI ground out and a subsequent RBI single.

FSU (16-2, 5-0 ACC) answered in the bottom half of the inning with a sacrifice fly by Devon Travis.

Neither team would score again until an RBI single by UVA in the top half of the seventh, as both starting pitchers put together strong outings.

Cavaliers' starter Branden Kline gave up just one unearned run on four hits and no walks in his 6.1 innings pitches, with six strikeouts in a no decision. Seminoles' starter Mike Compton gave up three runs, two earned, on three hits and two walks in his 6.1 innings of work, striking out three in a no decision as well.

"(Compton) pitched very well and all he got to show for it was six innings of a couple of runs scored," Martin said. "No 'W', no 'L', but he certainly pitched beautiful baseball."

After a scoreless eighth inning by Bryant Holtmann, FSU knew it was running out of time to erase the 3-1 deficit with the top of the order due up.

With one out, Sherman Johnson walked and Travis was hit by a pitch to put two runners on for James Ramsey.

Ramsey singled to left field to load the bases for Boyd, who had yet to register a hit in the series. On a 1-2 count off of UVA reliever Kyle Crockett, Boyd hit a line drive to right that Mike Papi couldn't quite bring in at the wall to tie the game.

"I knew he was either going to bust me in, or change my eye level and go right back to (the slider)," Boyd said. "He threw (the slider) again and I was lucky to put a good swing on it and get a good result."

Ramsey advanced to third on the double. After a failed squeeze attempt from McGee, Ramsey was able to come home on a full-count ground out to third base for the winning run.

"That was great at-bat," Martin said. "The guy on the mound is very tough, you could see a lot of movement on his pitches. Stephen hung in there and stayed tough, kind of got the right hop. I thought the third baseman was going to get in the air, but when it took that next hop I said 'They ain't going to get Ramsey.'"

Benincasa came in to slam the door shut in the ninth as he fired three straight strikeouts to earn the save and give Holtmann his first career win.

"I think everything was really there," Benincasa said of the ninth. "My fastball, I only threw two times so I guess the thing that was working for me was my slider more than anything. I struck out the lefty on a changeup, got him to swing and miss twice on a changeup so I guess that was working too."

FSU will go for the sweep of UVA on Monday night at 7 p.m. ET at Dick Howser Stadium. Sophomore Peter Miller (3-0, 1.08 ERA) will start on the mound for FSU opposite of junior Whit Mayberry (2-0, 3.04 ERA). The game will be televised on ESPNU.

Notables

  • Sherman Johnson's third inning double was his first of the season. He has reached base in all 18 games this season.

  • FSU is now 7-1 this season when it scores first.

  • Freshman outfielder Josh Delph earned his first career start in right field. He went 0-2 at the plate.



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