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March 2, 2014

Seventh-Inning Rally Helps FSU Shut Door on Miami


Florida State's senior shortstop only had one more chance to get a win against his hometown team as a Seminole. Miami native Justin Gonzalez made sure he finished with another series win against the Hurricanes.

Gonzalez's double in the bottom of the sixth inning scored two runs and broke open a massive lead in No. 2 FSU's (8-1) series clinching win over No. 12 Miami (5-5) on Sunday. The Hurricanes tied the game at 6-6 in the top of the inning, but the Seminoles poured on seven runs in the bottom of the sixth to slam the door on their rivals.

"I went into the box looking for the sign and saw (Martin) was going to turn me loose," Gonzalez said. "I knew in that situation I had to produce."

Florida State had been in firm control of the game early on, but Miami rallied when the Seminoles went to their bullpen to relieve starter Mike Compton. Florida State scored six runs in the third inning, but Miami roared back in the top of the sixth inning with the series on the line. Florida State lost the series opener on Friday before tying it on Saturday and clinching the win on Sunday.

Florida State and Miami agreed to the series after they rotated out on the ACC schedule in 2014. The games won't count in the conference standings.

"It was great for all of Florida State to play Miami every year," Martin said. "And that's what we will do for many, many years. We will not allow it to be skipped."

Compton wasn't overpowering, but worked his way out of jams to stay in control. He gave up just one run in the second inning after Miami had runners on the corners with one out. Miami doubled to lead off the top of the fifth and again had runners on first and third with one out, but Compton finished the inning with a strikeout and a popup to keep the Hurricanes off the board.

He was lifted after 81 pitches and five innings for junior reliever Billy Strode. Compton gave up three earned runs on six hits and two walks against four strikeouts, but the 6-3 lead he left the mound with capitulated the next inning.

"When there are runners on base early in the inning, it's just about limiting the damage," Compton said. "There were a couple times there where you make a couple mistakes and they get a couple runners on base. Then it's just bearing down and executing your pitches."

First baseman John Nogowski was the early hero before Miami rallied. Nogowski went 0-3 with a walk in Friday's loss, but had a two-out double to spark Florida State's four-run first inning on Saturday. His triple in the third on Sunday pushed the lead to 5-1. After going hitless in the series opener, he went 3-6 with two walks and four RBI in FSU's two wins on the weekend.

"I kind of slowed up around second and saw (Mike Martin Jr.) still waving me," Nogowski said. "I was kind of surprised. It was definitely fun."

Miami went quietly after FSU's outburst in the seventh. The Hurricanes were retired in order in each of the last three innings. Sunday's series finale was set up to go to the wire after Miami tied the game -- both teams had their closers available -- but the seven-run rally deflated Miami's efforts.

Sophomore pitcher Jameis Winston entered the game in the ninth inning despite the big lead. He pitched a scoreless inning.

"It was a ballgame that you could feel was starting to slip when you're up 6-1 and then it's 6-6," Martin said. "Our guys would have nothing to do with that. Came in and had an outstanding inning, some key hitting. This was a good win for us in the early part of this season."

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