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March 24, 2013

No. 5 FSU rallies for 8-6 win over No. 11 Georgia Tech



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After a pair of blowout wins for both teams on Friday, Sunday's series finale between No. 5 Florida State and No. 11 Georgia Tech looked like it was headed in the same direction early on after the Yellow Jackets jumped out to a 5-0 lead.

But thanks to a gutsy performance by the Seminoles' bullpen and a pair of clutch hits from DJ Stewart and Seth Miller, FSU (22-2, 7-2 ACC) was able to rally back and clinch the series with an 8-6 win.

Miller was 2 for 2 with three RBI, two of which came on a seventh inning double to tie the game at six, and two runs scored.

Stewart delivered his second game-winning hit in the bottom of the eighth with a two-run single up the middle for the 8-6 victory in front of 4, 498 fans at Dick Howser stadium..

"When you fall down 5-0 in the rubber game you find out a lot about the ball club," FSU head coach Mike Martin said. "I think our guys showed today that they'll fight you for 27 outs."

FSU starter Peter Miller was the second Seminole to last less than two innings against the Yellow Jackets' (18-5, 6-3 ACC) and their offense, which ranked tops in the country in both runs per game and average entering the weekend.

Peter Miller lasted just an inning and third as he gave up five runs, four earned on seven hits and no walks. He struck out two, but allowed seven hits to the 11 batters he faced.

Sophomore Bryant Holtmann took over for Miller and settled things down for the Seminoles as he allowed just one earned run on two hits and one walk, and struck out five in 3.1 innings.

"When I came in I just knew I had to hold them there and do he best I could to keep them in the ballgame" Holtmann said. "(Mike Martin Jr.) says it all the time, we have a Seminole mystique here and if you keep us in the game we're going to take advantage of it."

Martin said that Holtmann's cut-fastball was as good on Sunday as it's been all year.

The southpaw gave way to Jameis Winston, who gave up just one hit in 1.1 scoreless innings, while striking out two. Brandon Johnson and Gage Smith each followed with a 0.2 scoreless innings, before Smith turned the ball over to closer Robby Coles with one out in the eighth inning and a pair of runners on base.

Coles got out of the jam and worked a perfect ninth inning as he earned the first win of his Seminole career, retiring all five batters he faced.

"You just can't say enough about what a great job the bullpen did," Martin said. "Every single pitcher that went out there held the other team in check. The bullpen did a great job of keeping them right there for the next six innings. That's exciting for us. It goes to show you what a great job Mike Bell is doing with our pitchers."

With the bullpen holding the Yellow Jackets scoreless for all but one inning, the FSU offense chipped away at the lead.

Miller drove in a run in the second inning on a sacrifice fly, followed an RBI-single by John Sansone in the fourth. FSU cut the lead to 6-4 in the sixth inning as Josh Delph hit a ground ball to short for what should have been a double-play. Instead Matt Gonzalez's throw got away from A.J. Murray at second base and two FSU runs came around to score.

With a runner on first and two outs in the seventh inning, Martin pinch-hit Casey Smit for John Nogowski against GT reliever Alex Cruz. Smit came through with a single up the middle to put two on for Seth Miller.

The senior outfielder took a 1-1 breaking ball and drilled it off the screen in right to tie the game at six.

"I was looking for a pitch to drive," Seth Miller said. "In a 1-1 count he threw the changeup the pitch before and I thought he might back off-speed again and he did. He ended up throwing a, it wasn't a good curveball, he hung it and I ended up putting it off the screen and there you go two runs."

FSU completed the rally in the bottom of the eighth inning after Coles escaped a jam in the top the half. Josh Delph got things started with a one-out walk, followed by a single to right by Marcus Davis.

Both runners moved up on a wild-pitch by Jonathan King (1-1). Stewart took the next pitch right back up the middle for a two-run single. It was his second hit of the day and second game-winner of the year after hitting a walk-off homerun against Rhode Island on February 17.

"In that situation I kind of wanted to get one to the outfield, but he threw a fastball right down the middle and I just tried to hit it hard," Stewart said.

Despite the early lead for Georgia Tech, Seth Miller said there was a calm in the FSU dugout thanks to veteran leaders that have been through a number of similar rallies in the past at Dick Howser.

They knew that they would be able to dig out of the early deficit and when they did, he said it was huge confidence boost to a very young ball club.

"It's huge for our team," Seth Miller said. "When you're down 6-1 like it was at the begging of the game and you come back and score five runs like we did, just one every inning or so, it's just a huge boost for a team. You know you can go out there in the eighth and get two more like we did and end up winning the ballgame."

Notable

  • The win makes it 18 straight victories for Florida State in its Sunday Gold uniforms, and a perfect 6-0 in 2013.

  • FSU returns to action on Tuesday in Jacksonville, Fla. against the Florida Gators in the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Luke Weaver (3-0, 1.00 ERA) will make the start for FSU.

  • Martin said after Sunday's game that he would discuss the weekend rotation with Martin Jr. and pitching coach Mike Bell after Peter Miller struggled.

    "Bell and Meat and I will sit down to see if we're going to make any decisions," Martin said. "Got to see how Luke pitches against Florida on Tuesday. We know there's a lot of games left and we want to be sure that we have everybody in the right spot."



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