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March 8, 2013

Leibrandt's no-hit bid falls just short against BC



After laboring through his first three starts in 2013, Florida State sophomore Brandon Leibrandt was on cruise control Friday night at Dick Howser stadium against Boston College.

The lefty improved to 4-0 on the year as he gave up just one hit and four walks in eight shutout innings as No. 5 FSU defeated Boston College 4-0.

Leibrandt didn't allow a hit until John Hennessy singled through the left side of the infield with one out in eighth inning. He struck out three batters and threw a season-high 105 pitches.

"Brandon was masterful," FSU head coach Mike Matin said. "Worked both sides of the plate, threw the curveball, threw the changeup, it was just a beautifully pitched ball game. (Pitching coach) Mike Bell deserves a lot of credit. He called a beautiful baseball game."

Leibrandt said he noticed after about the fourth inning that he hadn't given up a hit, while his teammates said they mostly noticed around the fifth and sixth inning. After each inning Leibrandt sat next to Bell like he usually does, but unlike most of his starts, fellow starter Scott Sitz didn't come near him and catcher Stephen McGee was awfully quiet.

Martin joked that he's not superstitious, but he did refuse to answer assistant coach Mike Martin Jr. when he asked if Martin Sr. wanted to send a reliever down to the bullpen prior to the eighth inning.

"No one was talking to him," said shortstop Giovanny Alfonzo. "No one's talking to each other actually. It was kind of silent. I know Scotty (Sitz) was keeping everybody loose, and a couple of the older guys were keeping everyone loose."

Early in the game Leibrandt actually struggled with his command, as he walked career-high four batters in the game. He allowed three walks in the first five innings.

"Actually no," McGee said when asked if he thought Leibrandt was on his game from the start. "Early on he spiked a couple fastballs, so you're kind of a little worried. But then as he went on he finally relaxed, loosened up and started finding the zone."

Leibrandt recorded just one strikeout in the first six innings, before striking out the first two hitters in the seventh inning.

Despite three errors, FSU played solid defense behind Leibrandt much of the night. Jose Brizuela, who was charged with a throwing error, made a nice play on bunt attempt to start the sixth inning, and a few other tough plays on balls hit to his left. Seth Miller kept the no-hitter alive with a spectacular diving catch to end the sixth inning.

"Seth's catch was certainly outstanding, kept the no-hitter intact," Martin said. "Breezy made a nice play on a bunt, and also made a nice play on a ball in the hole. It was a game in which we made two errors, but two of them were just very, very tough plays. Errors, but tough plays."

Offensively FSU scored four runs on just six hits, but had nine walks. Boston College starter Eric Stevens (0-3) allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits and six walks in 5.1 innings pitched. The Eagles bullpen allowed just one hit and walked three.

D.J. Stewart, McGee, Marcus Davis and Jose Brizuela each drove in one run. Alfonzo was the lone Seminole with multiple hits, as he was 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles and a run scored.

"Just put the ball in the play and sometimes you just get lucky," Alfonzo said. "I put a good swing on the ball down the first baseline, I hit it solid. The one down the third baseline just luckily go through, it's just part of the game. You get lucky sometimes if you put the bat on the ball."

Leibrandt continued to throw zeros on the board as the offense never pulled away from BC. After recording one out in the eighth, Hennessy finally broke through as he poked a fastball just out of Alfonzo's reach at shortstop.

"It was a 3-1 fastball away," Leibrandt said. "Guy put a good swing on it, put it through the hole and the rest is it."

Robby Coles worked a perfect ninth inning, striking out one, to preserve the shutout. It was the first one-hitter for FSU since March 8, 2010 against Jacksonville.

The shutout was the third of the year for FSU as it moved to 13-0 and 1-0 in the ACC. BC fell to 3-9 overall and 0-1 in the ACC.

Leibrandt, who had given up 12 runs, nine earned, in his first 16.1 innings this season, said it was nice to be able t pick up the offense for a change on Friday.

"The offense has had my back this whole time, it was just nice to go out there and put up zeros for them."

Notable

  • There have been eight no-hitters in school history. Leibrandt's would have been the first since Chris Chavez tossed one against Charleston Southern in 1998.

  • FSU and Boston College face off again on Saturday at 6 p.m ET. Scott Sitz will start for the Seminoles. Sitz hasn't allowed a run this season, and has a scoreless streak of 19.2 innings working.

  • Senior shortstop Justin Gonzalez missed his eighth straight game with a hip injury. Martin said on Wednesday that Gonzalez is still out indefinitely, and they will know the full extent of his injury by the middle of next week.



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