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April 29, 2012

Florida State defeats URI 6-5 in walk off win

There's just something about Summer Sundays at Dick Howser Stadium.

For the second week in a row the top-ranked Seminoles came away with a walk off win in their Sunday Gold uniforms to complete a three-game weekend sweep.

This week it was Jayce Boyd who delivered the winning hit with a two-run double off the screen in right field for a 6-5 win over Rhode Island.

"I noticed he was trying to work the strike zone a lot," Boyd said of Rams' closer Mike Bradstreet. "We got some swings earlier in the inning, first pitch fastballs got some good swings on him, so I saw that approach. Took the same approach and just put it off the screen."

Boyd only got the plate after the URI infield botched two tailor-made double play balls earlier in the inning. Trailing 5-3 Stephen Spradling started the ninth inning rally with a pinch-hit single to left field.

With one out, Jose Brizulea hit a routine ground ball to Tim Caputo at shortstop, but Caputo rushed his flip to second and the ball got away from Pat Fortunato. Brizulea reached first on a fielder's choice and Spradling moved to third on the E-6.

Five pitches later Sherman Johnson hit another double play ball to Fortunato, who booted the ball to score Spradling. Johnson reached on an RBI fielder's choice, and Brizulea advanced to second on the error.

With new life for the second time in the inning, Devon Travis struck out swinging and James Ramsey was pitched around for a four-pitch walk to bring up Boyd. Boyd laced the first pitch he saw off the screen in right field for the first walk-off hit of his career to clinch the seventh weekend sweep of the year for FSU as it improved to 36-7 overall.

"Sometimes it's good to be lucky," head coach Mike Martin said. "That's about the only way you can describe it. We certainly got a couple of breaks there in the ninth inning. But we still had to produce and our guys did that."

FSU spent the entire afternoon digging its way out of a hole created by a four-run third inning by Rhode Island (26-19), highlighted by a three-run homer from Jeff Cammans to left.

The long ball chased starter Scott Sitz from the game after just 2.1 innings. He gave up four earned runs on five hits, allowed zero walks, and struck out one.

Johnson drove in a run in the bottom of the third on an RBI groundout, but the Rams answered right back with a run off of Luke Weaver in the fourth.

Trailing 5-1 though the Seminole bullpen found it's groove, not giving up a run in the final five innings. Gage Smith pitched two scoreless inning, followed by Mack Waugh who struck out two in his scoreless inning, and Hunter Scantling worked a scoreless ninth inning to improve to 5-0 on the year as he was awarded the win.

"Certainly Jayce Boyd's double of the screen to drive in the winning runs was dramatic, but there were a lot of things that occurred during the game," Martin said. "Gage Smith coming in and keeping it close, giving up no runs. Mack Waugh pitched well, Hunter Scantling pitched well, we just kept trying to keep the game in reach."

The most pivotal defensive play came in the top of the seventh inning. Johnson was making his first career start at shortstop, and trailing 5-3 with one out and runners on second and third base, Fortunato hit a slow ground ball right at Johnson.

The senior fired the ball to the plate and Stephen McGee tagged Milan Adams for the second out. Smith then induced a groundout to end the inning and maintain the three-run deficit.

"11 (Coach Martin) just said if he runs throw him out at the plate," said Johnson who hadn't played shortstop since he was 12. "If he doesn't run just throw it to first. When I haven't played a position before I was like 'Hey that's simple enough. Just catch it throw it.' That's all I was trying to do, nothing more."

After failing to score in the seventh and eight innings FSU scored three in the ninth to complete the comeback. The two-run double capped off a massive weekend for Boyd who was 8 for 12 with two doubles, a home run, and seven RBI in the series.

Boyd said he took the fact that Bradstreet pitched around Ramsey as challenge more so than a sign of disrespect.

"It's jut one of those situations where its just fun," Boyd said. "You know the pressure is on you, the game's riding. It's you against the pitcher. Base hit ties it or wins it, that's all you've got to do. For them to pitch around Ramsey, it's not necessarily a slap in the face but it's a challenge for sure. I'm glad I got the opportunity."

Notable

  • The win improved FSU to 11-0 in one-run ball games.

  • Josh Delph's fourth inning double was his seventh of the season. Of his 13 career hits this season, seven are doubles.

  • Martin said injured shortstop Justin Gonzalez is close to making a return to the lineup from his strained hamstring.

    "Gonzo's close. Still not saying he'll play Wednesday night (against JU)," Martin said. "I would say he was 85 percent today. He was really moving around in BP."



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