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April 6, 2012
No. 2 FSU defeats Georiga Tech 2-1 in the 10th inning
ATLANTA-- All night long Florida State shortstop Justin Gonzalez looked a bit uncomfortable at the plate-- until it mattered most that is.
After Georgia Tech tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on an RBI double by Brandon Thomas off of Seminoles' closer Robert Benincasa, Gonzalez came to the plate in the top of the 10th with a chance to put his team back ahead.
The junior shortstop was 0 for 3 in the game, but with runners on first and second and two outs he singled through the left side of the infield for what would be the game winning RBI in the 2-1 win on the road for the second-ranked Seminoles.
Benincasa pitched a perfect 10th inning to atone for the run in the ninth, his first earned run of the year, as he picked the win and improve to 2-0.
"I struggled all game but I stayed confident," Gonzalez said. "11 told me you're going to get up in the (10th) inning and just stay poised. Fortunately I was able to come through for my team."
The blown save by Benincasa cost starter Brandon Leibrandt a well-deserved win. The Atlanta-native was spectacular in his homecoming outing, giving up no runs, four walks, and just three hits in a career-high 7.1 innings pitched.
"I was able to mix all my pitches equally," Leibrandt said. "They gave me some easy outs on some pitches and the defense behind me just played extremely well."
FSU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second on an RBI single by Jose Brizulea, who was thrown out at second on the play trying to stretch out a double.
It was the lone run that Yellow Jackets starter Buck Farmer allowed as he gave up just five hits, walked three and stuck out eight in his eight innings of work.
Leibrandt was able to match pitch for pitch as he stuck out four and sat down 15 batters in a row before a walk in the eighth inning ended his night in favor of Gage Smith. Smith stuck out the only batter he faced before Benincasa came in for the final out of the inning.
Benincasa started out the ninth inning with a strikeout of Mott Hyde but then gave up an infield single to leadoff hitter Kyle Wren. Wren came around to tie the game at 1 on Thomas' double to right field.
"He was definitely sitting slider," Benincasas said of Thomas. "I would have liked to have thrown a different pitch. I didn't, that's completely on me-I threw a good slider, it was down, it was in. That's kind of what I was trying to do."
After giving up the run, Benincasa settled down and got a pair of fly ball outs to send the game into extra innings.
In the top of the 10th, Devon Travis and Jamesy Ramsey were quickly retired on just five pitches from reliever Alex Cruz (1-1).
Jayce Boyd kept the inning alive as he reached base for the fifth time on his third single to go with a pair of walks. After Boyd, Stephen McGee drew a full-count walk to bring Gonzalez to the plate.
During a 5-1 loss to Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday, Gonzalez had a similar chance to come through for his team as he came to the bat in the 8th inning with the bases loaded and lined out on a bullet to center field.
On Friday with a 2-2 count, he made contact and the ball got through the left side of the infield to bring around Boyd for the winning run.
"Justin's worked so hard," FSU head coach Mike Martin said. "I'm just excited that he stayed closed, put the ball in play and did not put the ball in the air. Good things happen when you put the ball on the ground and put it in play."
In the bottom of the 10th, Benincasa stuck out Daniel Palka and got two groundouts to bounce back and earn the win, which Martin said showed what the junior righty is all about.
"He didn't fell sorry for himself and fold his tent up," Martin said. "He battled and got the next two outs and then of course went out and pitched a very good tenth."
FSU (25-5, 12-1 ACC) and Georgia Tech (19-12, 6-7 ACC) will return to action at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday evening for game two of the three-game series. On the hill for the Seminoles will be Mike Compton (6-0, 1.91 ERA), while GT will counter with Dusty Isaacs (4-1, 3.37 ERA).
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