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March 1, 2013

FSU blasts Villanova 23-5 in series opener



The sixth-ranked Florida State Seminoles improved to 8-0 on the year with a 23-5 victory over Villanova in Friday's series opener at Dick Howser Stadium.

FSU pounded out 23 runs on 22 hits, 11 walks and six Villanova errors. John Nogowski came off the bench to drive in a career-high four runs, while Marcus Davis continued his scorching start to the year with a career-high three RBI and Seth Miller drove in three runs as well.

Villanova (1-4) took a brief 3-2 lead in the top of the third inning, but FSU stormed back with seven runs in the bottom half of the inning and scored at least one run in every inning the rest of the way. The 22 hits for FSU were the most since it mashed 38 hits in a 37-6 win over Ohio State in the 2009 NCAA Tallahassee Regional.

"That's just really good for our confidence," Miller said. "We especially want that early on in the season and that's just going to help you out down the road. Having good at-bats, just getting comfortable at the plate, especially for the younger guys."

Seminoles' starter Brandon Leibrandt (3-0) had mixed results in his third start of the year. The sophomore lefty earned the win, but gave up five runs, just two earned, on seven hits, two of which were home runs, but struck out a season-high eight batters in just 5.1 innings. Leibrandt has allowed four home runs so far this season in three games, after allowing just four all season during Freshman All-American campaign.

Head coach Mike Martin said he wasn't concerned with the long balls from Leibrandt, because both hit the yellow padding on top of the wall in left field before going out. Leibrandt said he felt good with his fastball, but his off-speed pitches are what he struggled with.

"My changeup was just OK today, slider was just OK, but I was able to locate some fastballs here and there and get some Ks," Leibrandt said.

The first homerun for the Wildcats came from shortstop Tyler Sciacca to put Villanova ahead 3-2. FSU responded with seven runs on six hits, one walk and a error as it batted around in the inning.

Davis drove in his second run of the game in the inning, as he went 2 for 4 with three RBI and two runs scored in the game. Miller drove in a run in the inning on a double down the right field line. The senior outfielder finished 4 for 6 with three RBI, a double, three runs scored and a walk. The four hits tied his career-high.

Five of the seven runs in the third inning came with two outs.

"That right there tells you how good of a club we are and that's what the young guys need to see," Miller said. "How good of a club we are. No matter if we have two outs, one out, nobody on base, we can get things going in a hurry and we can score runs just right after another."

The young guys did plenty of damage in the game as well. Sophomore Giovanny Alfonzo, who started at shortstop in place of the injured Justin Gonzalez, had a career-high three hits, with an RBI and three runs scored. True freshman John Sansone went 2 for 4 with a double off the screen in right, two RBI, three walks and four runs scored.

Nogowski, a sophomore first baseman, smoked the first pitch he saw for a two-run double in the fourth inning. He finished the game 3 of 4 with four RBI and two runs scored.

"I started a little slow opening weekend, trying to do too much," Nogowski said. "But I'm my best when I'm up the middle and I can hit all pitches. I'm seeing the ball great right now- not as good as Marucs Davis, but I'm trying to get him to 'Save a few hits for me my man.'- but it's going good. I feel like I'm seeing the ball great."

After Leibrandt left the game, the FSU bullpen pitched a perfect 3.2 innings of baseball to close out the game. Robby Coles stuck out all five batters he faced with just 23 pitches. Billy Strode worked a perfect eighth, followed by Luke Weaver in the ninth who stuck out two Wildcats.

Martin said after the game he was happy with his team's attitude towards the rest of the weekend despite the lopsided score.

"This club has a good grasp on the game," Martin said. "There was nobody in there that was laughing and going through like tomorrow's going to be similar, because they know nothing is predictable in this game except the unpredictable."

FSU and Villanova will return to action on Saturday for the second game in the series at 2 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcasted online by ESPN3.com. FSU will start Scott Sitz (1-0, 0.00 ERA), while Villanova starter Stephen Ostapeck will make his 2013 debut.

Notable

  • Freshman outfielder D.J. Stewart was held out of Friday's game and will sit on Saturday as well for precautionary reasons with a right wrist strain.

    "This is definitely precautionary situation," Martin said. "Our trainer Corey Couture said he could go but it would be better for him to take this day off."

  • Junior Brett Knief was 1 for 2 in the game with three RBI. He drove in a pair of runs on single up the middle and plated another run on a sacrifice fly

  • Sophomore Jose Brizuela also had a productive day at the plate, going 3 for 4 with two RBI, three runs scored and three walks. He drove in a run in the third inning on a bunt-base hit.



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