If Friday evening is a sign of what is to come from pitcher Brandon Leibrandt, Florida State is in good hands.
Making his third Friday start as a true freshman, Leibrandt (2-1) was in control throughout his five-inning, 91-pitch effort to pace the No. 13 'Noles to a 6-0 victory over Maine. The win was a bounce-back effort for the freshman, who allowed four hits and walked one while striking out a career high six Black Bear hitters.
"Leibrandt had a good outing," said Seminole head coach Mike Martin. "There's no doubt he was throwing all three pitches well, I thought he changed speeds extremely well and kept the hitters off balance. It was a very, very good job of pitching."
"I tried to go out there and establish all three pitches, throw the fastball to each side of the plate and then let the defense do the rest after that," added Leibrandt.
As for the Florida State (7-1) offense, the bulk of the damage came in the home half of the second inning. With the bases loaded and two out, right fielder Seth Miller hit a bases clearing triple to left-center to put the 'Noles up 3-0. The other half of the runs came on more benign plays: a bases-loaded walk to Sherman Johnson in the fourth, a John Nogowski RBI single in the fifth and a run-scoring sacrifice bunt off the bat of Josh Delph in the seventh.
The night truly belonged to the Seminole pitching staff and defense. Following a disappointing effort against FIU in which he lasted only 2-2/3 innings, Leibrandt responded with a much-needed steady outing. The credit, he said, comes with an understanding of how to deal with the pressure of the college game.
"You know what to expect with the atmosphere," Leibrandt said. "It's a great, great feeling to go out there, but being able to control the nerves with experience, it was a lot better [today]."
Senior Hunter Scantling was stellar in his three innings of relief, retiring each of the nine he faced while striking out a season-high three batters. Freshman Kyle Bird finished the night off with a perfect ninth inning. All in all, the Seminoles retired the last 15 straight Maine batters to earn the win.
Good pitching also had its effects on defense. In contrast to five Maine (3-3) errors, Florida State played blemish-free baseball.
"I'm just very pleased with the way we approached the game, we got after it," said Martin. "And certainly, we got a couple of gifts. I mean, Maine doesn't make the number of errors that they made tonight. It was just one of those things. Certainly we were able to take advantage of some."
All Leibrandt and the Seminole staff needed was one.
With severe weather in the forecast for all of Saturday, Florida State announced that the Seminoles will play two on Sunday afternoon, beginning at 12:05 p.m.. Both games will go the scheduled nine innings as Maine has no travel curfew, and the second of the two games will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.
Devon Travis' leadoff double in the third inning was the 40th of his Seminole career.
Coach Martin said he considered leaving Hunter Scantling in the game to get the multi-inning save, but he thought better of it because of the stress of a doubleheader Sunday. Scantling finished the day throwing 37 pitches.