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June 21, 2012

CWS: Top of the order keeping FSU alive

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Join Warchant's Live Blog Thursday night as FSU takes on Arizona again in the CWS

OMAHA, Neb.-- Lo Viste? See that?

Throughout the postseason after a big hit Florida State players have flashed two fingers over their eyes in a sideways 'V' meaning Lo Viste, or Spanish for "See that?"

The Seminoles adopted the signal from the Miami Marlins, who have been flashing the Lo Viste V since Emilio Bonifacio's 26-game hitting streak late last season.

"It's just kind of stuck," said FSU shortstop Justin Gonzalez. "It's fun. In this game you've got to have fun too. Any time a guy gets a hit or anything we put up the sign. Some guys dog us saying you're copying the guys from Miami, but it's just baseball we're just having fun."

"It's not something we talked about," added senior Sherman Johnson. "A couple of us did it and then everybody just started doing it. It's kind of cool man. It's just something we have fun with. We're just trying to have fun and the Marlins seem to have fun when they do it."

The Seminoles are hoping for few more chances for something to see. FSU will face a third straight College World Series elimination game on Thursday at 5 p.m. ET against Arizona. The Wildcats defeated FSU 4-3 last Friday in the CWS opener for both teams. If the Seminoles win on Thursday, they will play Arizona again for a spot in the CWS Championship Series on Friday.

After the loss FSU seemed to play more free, and thus had the opportunity to throw up the V a few more times in its last two games, fighting off elimination against Stony Brook 12-2 on Sunday, and UCLA 4-1 on Tuesday.

After a three-run homer by Gonzalez in the win against Stony Brook that capped off a six-run third inning, the junior from Miami flashed the sign with a big smile on his way back to the dugout. The next inning it was Devon Travis's turn to flash the sign as he blasted a two-run shot.

On Tuesday night in the win over UCLA there were fewer opportunities for FSU hitters to ask their teammates if they saw that, with just one extra-base hit, a double by Johnson. Still the veteran top of the order found a way to grind out at-bats and get FSU an early lead scoring all four runs and combing for six hits.

"Certainly we've had a lot of success from those guys most of the year. It's not so-called crucial but it gives us a chance to do more when we've got those guys on the bases," Mike Martin said of his top of his order. "They've done a great job of getting good pitches to hit, being patient, not trying to do too much, and really, really having some good at-bats."

In the first meeting with Arizona, FSU's first three hitters (Johnson, Devon Travis, and James Ramsey) were 4 for 13 with the lone RBI coming on solo home run by Johnson.

In the next two games the top of the order has been 13 for 22 with six RBI and 10 runs scored.

"They've been through the rigors and excitement," FSU assistant coach and hitting coach Mike Martin Jr. said. "They do everything. But what people are trying to figure out is what's making us click-It's the defense, the pitching, throwing it over the plate and playing defense. Those are the same guys that are playing defense for us as well. It's fun to watch. We're getting more comfortable with the surroundings and getting some momentum and feeling good about ourselves."

Johnson surging in the postseason again

No matter how much he struggles during the regular season, when the NCAA Tournament comes around things really seem to start to click for Sherman Johnson.

The senior from Tampa has a career .379 batting average in 27 career postseason games. He has just 17 career home runs, but seven have come in the NCAA Tournament.

"You're just trying to lock in and think about everything you've worked on and what you've worked and just trust yourself," Johnson said of his postseason at-bats. "That's all you can do at this point and that's all I've been doing."

FSU assistant coach and hitting coach Mike Martin Jr. said that Johnson's postseason success is about more than just locking in at the plate. He said the senior's postseason surges are a result of a desire to win.

"I think it comes from down deep-competitiveness," Martin Jr. said. "I call it parenting, when things don't go your way and you still continue to go. He was hitting .240 about two months ago and look at him now at (.279), wasn't drafted (last year) and all these things that should say go ahead and pout and feel sorry for yourself, he does the direct opposite and he's showing people he's here for a reason, and he's an All-American in our book."

In three CWS games Johnson is 5 for 14 with a solo home runs, two doubles, three RBI, and five runs scored. Overall in the 2012 postseason Johnson is 12 for 28 (.429) and has scored 16 times.

"That's his season," Gonzalez said of Johnson. "Regular season he does well and then once it gets to the postseason he just takes it to another level. I think it's just the will to win that he has. He wants to win, he wants to help his club no matter what the situation. He doesn't let any distractions come his way, he's just focused and knows what he wants. I'm glad to have him on our team, I'll tell you that much."

Leibrandt ready for another shot at the Wildcats

While Arizona hasn't announced whether it will start ace Kurt Heyer (12-2, 2.22 ERA) or James Farris (7-3, 4.18 ERA), FSU has said it will go with Brandon Leibrandt (8-2, 2.65 ERA).

The freshman lefty allowed just three runs, two earned, on six hits and no walks with five strikeouts in 4.1 innings the last time out.

"Coming out of the game in the fifth inning the other night, I just want to do some more to get a second crack (at Arizona)," Leibrand said. "My teammates said this isn't going to be your last start and I believed in them and here we are, I get to go again and couldn't be happier."

Against Arizona Leibrandt was the victim of some sloppy fielding by his infield and despite not giving up the big inning it seemed that Arizona was on top of his pitches when he was relived in the fifth.

"I've got to credit Arizona," he said. "They did a very good job of taking me out our gameplan. They put the ball in play, had key hits in key situations to drive in a couple RBIs. I just didn't make enough pitches in the end."


  • Tuesday's win over UCLA was the 50th of the season for FSU. It marks the 24th time in school history the team has won 50 games or more, all coming under Mike Martin.

  • The Seminoles bullpen a 1.82 ERA in the NCAA Tournament (six earned runs in 29.2 innings). The bullpen has not allowed an earned run in 13 innings at the CWS.

  • FSU is now 16-20 (.444) in CWS elimination games.

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