BLACKSBURG, Va. - No. 4 Florida State (23-3, 7-3 ACC) dropped game one of a three-game series to Virginia Tech (19-8, 6-4 ACC) Friday night falling 3-2 on English Field. The loss snapped FSU's five-game win streak in the series and marked the second straight time the Seminoles have lost a Friday night game in Blacksburg.
The Seminoles out hit the Hokies 11-6 but could not manage the key base hit to manufacture any runs outside of DJ Stewart's two-run home run in the sixth. Florida State hit into a season-high four double plays including one in the top of the ninth inning to end the game.
"It was a tough loss, but tomorrow is another story" said head coach Mike Martin. "We just didn't seem to get the key hits when we needed them tonight."
Virginia Tech's Brad Markey (3-2) registered his second complete game of the season as the junior right hander gave up two runs on 11 hits as he walked one and struck out four. Markey finished the game throwing 119 pitches as the last pitch he threw resulted in the game ending double play.
"You have to credit Markey, he did a very good job of getting the curveball over in crucial situations and we didn't do much with him when it was time to do something," added Martin. "But give them the credit, they deserved to win and got it done."
In the ninth, Jose Brizuela led things off with a double to the gap in right center and moved to third on a sac-bunt by John Nogowski. Pinch hitter Casey Smit stepped in and ripped a line drive to the opposite field, but Hokie third basemen Chad Pinder snared the ball and then dove back to tag the bag at third before Brizuela could get back to end the game.
"After Brizuela's double and getting him to third, I felt very confident that we could tie the game," said Martin. "Smitty had a good at-bat. You can't ask for much more than that."
Brandon Leibrandt suffered the loss as the sophomore left hander fell to 4-2 on the season. Leibrandt allowed three run on five hits in 4.0 innings of work. The Alpharetta, Ga., native struck out two and walked a season-high five batters.
"I thought Leibrandt pitched pretty well," said Martin. "He didn't dominate but he didn't give up an awful lot of hits. The walks bothered me though and that's not going to work."
The Hokies struck first on Friday when Mark Zagunis singled back up the middle plating Gary Schneider from second, who drew one of three walks off Leibrandt in the bottom of the third. Sean Keselica led off the inning with a walk but was eliminated from the base paths when he was picked off first by Stephen McGee. Leibrandt then issued two more walks in the inning with the second coming back to haunt him as Schneider scored on Zagunis' RBI single.
Virginia Tech would tack on two more in the fourth with both runs coming on two outs. After Leibrandt registered two quick outs, Kyle Wernicki kept the inning alive with an infield single to short. Keselica followed with an RBI double to left and scored on Schneider's RBI single up the middle to extend the Hokies lead to 3-0.
After recording seven hits through the first five innings with nothing to show for it on the scoreboard, the Seminoles finally broke through in the top of the sixth on a two-run home run by Stewart to cut the deficit to 3-2. Marcus Davis led off the inning with a single to left and scored when Stewart unloaded on a 3-2 pitch from Markey over the fence in right center for his third round tripper of the season.
Giovanny Alfonzo tied a career-high with three hits in the loss as the sophomore shortstop went 3-for-3 with three singles. Davis and Stewart both finished with two hits each, while McGee extended his streak of reaching base to 19 straight games with an infield single in the first.
The Seminoles threatened right away in the top of the first after Davis connected on a one-out double down the line in right and advanced to third on McGee's infield single to third. But Markey would get Brizuela swinging on strikes to retire the side.
Florida State put runners at the corners with one out in the second but could not get a run across when Seth Miller was thrown out trying to steal home. Miller and Alfonzo put together back-to-back singles with Alfonzo orchestrating a perfect hit-and-run to get Miller to third. After a strikeout to John Sansone, Markey got Alfonzo in a run down between first and second when Miller tried to score from third but was thrown out to retire the side.
A Nogowski single in the fourth and singles by Alfonzo in the fifth and seventh innings were all thwarted by groundball double plays to throw the momentum back in favor of Virginia Tech.
Billy Strode and Gage Smith kept the Seminoles in the game as the two combined to throw 4.0 shutout innings in relief. Strode went 3.0 innings and gave up just one hit and a walk, while Smith retired the side in order in the eighth on a strikeout sandwiched between a pair of fly outs.
Florida State and Virginia Tech will resume the series with a doubleheader on Saturday, March 30 with the first game beginning at 2:00 p.m. and game two following 45 minutes after the completion of game one.
Fans can listen to both games on the Seminoles.com All-Access player and locally on 100.7 FM.