No. 6 Florida State completed its three-game sweep of Villanova 2-1 Sunday afternoon at a frigid Dick Howser Stadium in front an announced crowd of 3,959 fans.
FSU starter Peter Miller improved to 2-0 on the year as he allowed jusr three hits and four walks, while striking out a career-high eight batters in 5.1 innings. Two-sport star Jameis Winston closed the game out in the ninth for his second save of the season.
Winston worked himself out of bases-loaded, one-out jam with a sacrifice fly and a game-ending strikeout. It was just Winston's third appearance of the season, but head coach Mike Martin elected to let Winston work himself out of the jam, despite having multiple relievers ready in the bullpen.
"If we're going to use him as our closer he needs to get that feeling and he needs to know what it takes to close it up," Martin said. "I think that it was a good learning experience for him. Sometimes I must admit I'm very reluctant to do that when we have a very experienced Gage Smith down there, we have an experienced Brandon Johnson down there, but I wanted to see how he would do and fortunately he got the job done for us."
Winston started the ninth with flyou, but then proceeded to walk a batter, hit another with a pitch and then walked another to load the bases. Martin went out to the mound to tell Winston that if he wanted to be the team's closer then this was a situation he must learn to deal with.
The freshman responded, as he gave up a run on a sacrifice fly by John Ciano, and struck out designated hitter Max Beerman on a full-count clinch the win for FSU (10-0).
"You're going to be in situations like that, and it's good to overcome situations like that," said Winston, who was also 2 for 3 with a double at the plate. "Like I said I've got a good defense behind me so no one was really worried about it, probably the fans were worried, but we were having fun."
Winston's strikeout was the 43rd of the weekend recorded by the FSU pitching staff. All three starters struck out at least eight Wildcat (1-6) batters. The run allowed snapped a scoreless innings streak of 21 for the FSU staff that began in the sixth inning on Friday.
Junior college transfer Robby Coles struck out five batters in his 2.2 innings of relief on Sunday to give him 10 strikeouts on the weekend. At one point the Wakulla, Fla. native had stuck out the last nine batters he faced dating back to last Wednesday's game against Jacksonville.
"No doubt (I'm pleased)," FSU pitching coach Mike Bell said. "I thought overall as a staff each guy did their own part. (Brandon) Leibrandt he gets the chore of the Friday night game feeling some guys out, (Scott) Sitz continued to do what he's done and throw three pitches for strikes and throw the fastball with command on both sides of the plate, and Pete is a continuing progress."
Miller was solid for the second straight start after lasting just 2.1 innings in his first start of the year. The junior worked out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning, worked around double in the third inning, and a runner on third in the fourth.
"Peter is slowly but surely maturing as a pitcher," Martin said. "He's one of the few guys in college baseball that has four good pitches. He'll throw the curveball, slider, fastball and change. Pete Miller is a talented young man. He's an excellent fielding pitcher and for him to go out and experience some toughness, both mentally and physically, and have success is very encouraging."
While the FSU's pitchers dominated, its bats were kept quiet most of the afternoon by Villanova starter Josh Harris. The lefty allowed just two runs, one earned on six hits, no walks, and struck out two in his seven innings of work.
FSU got on the board first in the third inning on a balk by Harris to score Giovanny Alfonzo. The second run was pushed across on a double off the screen in right field from John Sansone in the fifth inning.
With freshman outfielder D.J. Stewart held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons with a sore wrist for the third straight game, and senior shortstop Justin Gonzalez out indefinitely with a hip injury, catcher Stephen McGee said the weekend sweep just showcased the quality of players across FSU's roster.
"This team is special in that we have a lot of depth," said McGee, who was 1 for 3 Sunday. "One guy goes down, we can put another guy right back in. Really we just have so much depth in this lineup it's just very exciting to see what can happen. Just the way the lineup produces, it's almost like a different lineup when a guy goes out, but even thought it's different we still connect because we're such a good centered team."
Marcus Davis, 0 for 3, was held hitless for just the second time this season on Sunday. He hit two hard line drives, but both were right at the Villanova outfielders.
FSU is now on a 16-game winning streak in its Sunday gold uniforms.
The Seminoles return to action for a two-game series beginning on Tuesday against Presbyterian. Sophomore Luke Weaver (1-0, 1.12 ERA) will start the first game, with Wednesday's starter yet to be decided.
"I think we'll get through Tuesday first," Bell said. "We've got some guys, but we'll probably try to piece together Wednesday more than anything. Try to keep Luke on Tuesday and then piece together Wednesday to get us ready for conference."