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May 14, 2012

FSU splits doubleheader, clinches Atlantic Division

CLEMSON, S.C. - Top-ranked Florida State (41-11, 22-5 ACC) bounced back in game two of the doubleheader Monday night to record a 9-5 victory over Clemson (31-21, 16-11 ACC) and avoid the series sweep inside Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The win snapped FSU's three game losing streak while marking the first win in Clemson since May 5, 2008.

With the win Monday night, the Seminoles clinched the Atlantic Division title for the sixth year in a row and assured themselves no lower than the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament which will be held in Greensboro, N.C. beginning May 23.

The Seminoles' magic number to clinch the No. 1 overall seed in the upcoming tournament is one.

"We needed that game badly," said head coach Mike Martin. "That was one of the biggest wins of the year for us. I don't care what anybody says, this is the toughest place that I have had to play a baseball game in all of my years of coaching. I can't say enough about the grit and determination of this ball club. Take your hat off to Clemson; they beat us, they deserved to win the series. But we got it done tonight in a big game for us."

"It means a lot (to wrap-up the Atlantic Division), especially to come Clemson where the juniors and seniors have never won a game here" said Johnson. "It was a big weight off our shoulders to get this win."

Florida State wasted very little time jumping out in front Monday night running out to an early 6-0 lead thanks to two runs in the first and four more in the third.

"We did get off to a good start in this game tonight," said Martin. "We came through with some clutch hits to get us in a good position early. You get a five, six-run lead, it's a little easier to play."

Sherman Johnson led the Seminoles' 16-hit parade in game two of the doubleheader as the Tampa, Fla., native tied a career-high with four hits. Johnson reached base on all six of his plate appearances as he went 4-for-4 with two doubles, two singles and two walks. The senior, who was making his third start of the season at shortstop, drove in a season-high three runs.

The six through nine hitters in the Seminole line-up finished the evening 9-for-17 with four RBI, while scoring seven of the nine runs. John Nogowski tied a career-high with three hits, while Seth Miller matched that number going 3-for-4 with three singles. Josh Delph added two hits, while Jose Brizuela recorded a two-run triple. Nogowski, Miller and Brizuela all scored two runs in the win.

"You have to have that throughout the entire line-up to be successful," said Martin on the production from hitters 6-9 in game two. "This was a big win for us."

Gage Smith worked 2.1 innings in relief to pick up the win and move to 2-0 on the year. The sophomore right hander did not give up a hit while walking one and striking out two.

"I can't say enough about that guy," added Martin on the performance of Gage Smith. "He is a great competitor. He is a guy that is a perfect set-up for Benny."

Robert Benincasa worked a perfect ninth, striking out two to preserve the win.

FSU starter Luke Weaver did not factor into the decision in the series finale against Clemson as the freshman right hander worked 4.0 innings giving up two runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out three in his second straight start as part of the weekend rotation.

The Seminoles struck first in game two of the doubleheader plating two runs in the top of the first to take an early 2-0 lead. Johnson led off the game with a single through the right side and moved to third on a double down the third baseline by Devon Travis. Clemson starter Jonathan Meyer (2-5) robbed James Ramsey of a base hit gloving a groundball headed up the middle. Meyer threw on to third to get Johnson for the first out of the inning.

After Boyd was hit by a pitch to the load the bases, Stephen McGee brought home Travis for the first run of the game on sac-fly to right. Delph then followed with a two-out, RBI single through the left side to give the Seminoles a two-run lead.

Clemson registered back-to-back singles from Steve Wilkerson and Thomas Brittle off Weaver to start the bottom half of the inning, but the freshman right hander struck out Richie Shaffer and then recorded a pair of fly outs to end the inning.

Florida State loaded the bases with nobody out in the second but could not add to its lead. Miller opened the inning with a single. Brizuela followed with a walk and Johnson reached on a bunt single, for his second hit in as many at-bats, to load the bases. Meyer would leave them loaded getting three consecutive fly-outs to end the threat.

Miller came through with a web-gem in the bottom of the second to rob Jason Stolz of extra bases and to help keep the Tigers off the scoreboard. With Spencer Kieboom at first after recording a one-out single, Stolz blasted a shot to the gap in left center that Miller made a spectacular diving catch on running up the hill for the final out of the inning.

The Garnet & Gold added to their lead in the third plating four more runs to take a 6-0 advantage. Florida State strung together five consecutive one-out hits off Meyer including an RBI single up the middle by Miller, a two-run triple down the right field line by Brizuela and an RBI double to right by Johnson. Johnson's hit ended the evening for Meyer as the junior right hander allowed six runs on 10 hits in 2.1 innings.

Clemson pushed a run across in the third on a sac-fly by Phil Pohl to cut the Seminole lead to 6-1. Brittle drew a one-out walk off Weaver and advanced to third on a blistering single off the bat of Shaffer. Delph then made a great diving catch on a ball hit into the gap in right center robbing Pohl of a hit and holding him to a sac-fly. Weaver got out of the inning without further damage getting Jason Baum to pop up to Brizuela at third.

The Tigers continued to cut away at FSU's lead plating another run in the fourth. Brad Felder and Stolz put together consecutive two-out doubles as Stolz hit a chopper inside the bag at third to plate Felder and cut the Seminole lead to 6-2.

Florida State pushed its lead to seven thanks to a three-run fifth. Johnson picked up his fourth hit in as many at-bats with a two-run double to right to score Nogowski and Miller, who opened the inning with a single and walk, respectively. Ramsey drove in Brizuela for the third run of the inning on a sac-fly to center to give FSU a 9-2 advantage.

The Tigers crawled within four of the lead in the sixth courtesy of a three-run home off the bat of Stolz. Back-to-back walks by Hunter Scantling came back to haunt the senior right hander as Stolz deposited a 1-0 pitch into the seats in left center for his fifth home run of the season.

A two-out walk to Brittle ended the evening for Scantling. Smith came on and got Shaffer looking at a called third strike to end the inning and keep FSU's lead at 9-5.

Scantling went 1.2 innings on Monday night allowing three runs on three hits as he walked three and struck out one.

Clemson clinches the series in Game two

Florida State did all it could to battle back from an eight-run deficit in game one of a doubleheader against Clemson on Monday afternoon but the come-from-behind effort fell just short as the Seminoles fell to the Tigers 9-7 inside Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

With Clemson leading 9-1 after five innings of play, the Seminoles slowly chipped away at the lead scoring two runs in each of the sixth, seventh and ninth innings.

Florida State would not go away quietly in the ninth putting the tying run at second with one out following three consecutive singles by pinch hitter Stephen Spradling, John Nogowski and Seth Miller. But Scott Firth would settle down to get the final two outs to preserve the win for the Tigers and secure his second save of the season.

"That just shows what this ball club is all about," said head coach Mike Martin on his team's fight in game one. "To be down 9-1 on the road at Clemson, one of the toughest places to play in all of college baseball, is quite a credit to our young men. I am very proud of them."

Josh Delph led the Seminoles with a career-high three hits in game one, while Jayce Boyd drove in a team-high two runs in the losing effort. John Nogowski finished 2-for-5 with a pair of singles for the Noles.

Florida State NEWS


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