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April 20, 2012

No. 2 Florida State cruises past rival Miami 11-2

With Miami ace Eric Erickson on the mound, Florida State knew it would need a more aggressive approach at the plate during Friday's series opener against the archrival Hurricanes at Dick Howser Stadium.

FSU leadoff hitter Sherman Johnson came out swinging right away, fouling off the first pitch of his first at bat. The second pitch he saw, Johnson drilled a double into the gap in left center. It was the first of three doubles in the game for the senior.

Following Johnson's lead at the plate, No. 2 FSU (31-7, 17-2 ACC) cruised past No. 11 Miami 11-2 thanks to 13 hits and six walks. The Hurricanes (26-12, 12-7 ACC) mustered just two runs on five his and four walks as FSU starter Brandon Leibrandt earned the win to improve to 4-1 this season.

"Erickson is so good, he doesn't walk people," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "So there's no sense in thinking you're going to get into the count with him. I mean the guy walked five people in (58.2) innings and our guys just went up there and were aggressive. I've always said we're not up there for a walk, and I was just very, very pleased with the way we approached it."

After Johnson's leadoff double, Devon Travis and James Ramsey loaded the bases with a pair of singles. Johnson would come around to score on an RBI fielder's choice by Stephen McGee.

Miami tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the third on sacrifice fly by Chantz Mack. It was the only earned run Leibrandt allowed in his five innings of work, giving up two hits and two walks to go with two strikeouts as he struggled to keep his pitch count down.

FSU answered right back in the bottom half of the third on Johnson's second double to left center. Johnson then scored on a single and an error by Mack in left for a 2-1 lead that would never be relinquished.

"Any time a team like answers it's always big to answer right back," Johnson said. "I think we did a good job of that tonight…I think we did a good job of getting a head and staying ahead."

In the fourth FSU pushed the lead to 3-1 as Justin Gonzalez hit a solo home run off Erickson to left. It was just the second long ball allowed by Erickson this season.

FSU tacked on three more runs to Erickson's final line in the fifth inning as he finished with five innings pitched, six earned runs on nine hits and one walks with five strikeouts.

Gonzalez put an exclamation point on the game in the bottom of the seventh with his second home run of the game, and third in the last two games. Gonzalez blasted a two-run shot well over the bullpen in left field on a 1-0 pitch from his former high school teammate and good friend Alex San Juan.

"I just relaxed. Not try to do too much," he said of his fourth and fifth homers of the season. "During the strikeout (in the first inning) I tried to do a little bit too much, and just stayed within myself in the last at bat. Got a good pitch to hit and I put a good swing on it."

FSU extended the lead further on Johnson's third double of the game, this time off the screen in right field to bring in two more runs.

Johnson admitted that he did have a more aggressive approach at the plate as he finished 3 for 5 with three doubles and two RBI.

"You know (with Erickson) being a crafty lefty, he's older, he knows how to pitch, he's always around the zone so I went up there and if I saw a pitch I thought I could hit I was ready to go," Johnson said. "The rest of the lineup did that too."

After Leibrandt left in the fifth inning, Hunter Scantling worked two scoreless innings, followed by Bryant Holtmann who allowed an unearned run on three hits and struck out three.

FSU and Miami return to action for game two on Saturday at Noon. The Seminoles will start freshman Mike Compton (6-0, 3.09 ERA), while the Hurricanes will throw junior Eric Whaley (3-2, 2.56 ERA).

"It was as I said a surprise that the game ended this way, but I assure you tomorrow will be like we all know-different," Martin said. "That's the nature of this game you can't get up, you can't think you've accomplished anything because that ball club tomorrow will be entirely different."

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