For the second time in as many ACC games, Seth Miller came through with the game-winning hit as fourth-ranked Florida State (20-2, 7-0 ACC) defeated Wake Forest (16-8, 3-4 ACC) 5-4 in 11 innings in the continuation of game one Saturday afternoon on Gene Hooks Field inside Wake Forest Baseball Stadium.
"It was a great win, there is no doubt about it," said head coach Mike Martin. "It was a well-played ball game on both sides."
Miller laced a two-out RBI single to left center in the top of the 11th to score Josh Delph from second to give FSU a one-run lead. Delph drew a two-out walk off Michael Dimock (0-2), stole second to get into scoring position and scored on Miller's base hit.
"Seth has had some good at-bats," said Martin. "He really looks relaxed at the plate and I am very pleased with what I am seeing from Seth Miller."
"I have to give credit to Josh Delph for stealing that bag and getting into scoring position," said Miller. "That was key; I mean otherwise he is not going to score on that (base hit). I just really wanted us to stay perfect in the ACC."
Robert Benincasa (1-0) pitched the final 1.2 innings to earn his first victory of the season and keep the Seminoles as the only undefeated team in the ACC.
The bullpen once again came through for the Seminoles as Hunter Scantling, Gage Smith, Brian Busch and Benincasa worked 6.1 innings in game one to pace Florida State to its fifth straight win over Wake Forest in Winston-Salem.
"Brian Busch's relief work was big for us today," added Martin. "I thought Gage Smith had a good outing also and Benincasa came in to pick up his first victory of the season."
Smith, Busch and Benincasa kept the Demon Deacons scoreless over the final 5.2 innings allowing just four hits and four walks, while striking out seven.
Smith tied a career-high working 2.1 innings, while allowing a season-high three walks. Busch was impressive in his 1.2 innings of relief as he did not walk a batter and struck out a season-high three. Benincasa struck out three in 1.2 innings as the Tampa, Fla., native now has 20 strikeouts on the year while running his scoreless innings streak to 13.2 innings.
"They have been there all season long," said Miller on the work of the bullpen. "As soon as Benincasa got into the game, we knew they were not going to score. That is comforting for us because all we have to do is score one and we are going to win."
The Demon Deacons out hit the Seminoles 9-5 in game one, but the Deacs could not break through with a key hit leaving the bases loaded in the seventh and eighth innings while finishing the game with 12 runners left on base.
James Ramsey and Miller each drove in two runs apiece in a game that featured an 18 hour and 35 minute weather delay. Ramsey connected on his team leading seventh home run of the season in the sixth. Sherman Johnson's single to leadoff the game in the first extended his streak of reaching base to 22 straight games.
Florida State put runners on in the first two innings but both were removed from the base paths as Wake Forest starter Tim Cooney recorded a pair of pick-offs. Johnson singled through the left side to lead-off the ball game and was picked off at second, while Stephen McGee drew a walk in the second and was picked off at first.
Wake Forest recorded its first hit of the game off FSU starter Brandon Leibrandt with two outs in the third when Pat Blair singled back up the middle. But the freshman southpaw got Conor Keniry to groundout to second to retire the side.
The Deacs broke through with the first run of the game in the fourth as Mac Williamson took the first pitch of the inning from Leibrandt off the scoreboard in right center to give Wake Forest a 1-0 lead. The home run was Williamson's sixth of the season, while it was the first home run allowed by Leibrandt this year.
Wake's lead was short lived as the Seminoles responded with two runs in the top of the fifth to take a 2-1 advantage. McGee led off the inning with a double down the line in right and moved to third on a sac-bunt by Justin Gonzalez. Cooney put runners at the corners when he hit Stephen Spradling with a 1-0 pitch. Miller then moved both runners 90 feet and tied the game at one on an RBI groundout to first. Jose Brizuela followed with a two-out double to right center scoring Spradling to give the Noles their first lead of the evening.
The Demon Deacons answered right back with a run in the fifth to tie the game at two. Leibrandt registered two quick outs before giving up a walk but a fielding error at short kept the inning alive. Keniry made the Seminoles pay for the mistake lacing a single back up the middle scoring Evan Stephens from second to tie the game for the second time Friday night. Ramsey made a great throw to the plate on the ball hit by Keniry but Stephens slid in just ahead of the tag. The hit would end the night for Leibrandt as Scantling came on to get the Noles out of the jam. He would do just that as McGee threw out Keniry trying to steal second for the third out of the inning.
Leibrandt lasted 4.2 innings in his sixth start allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits as he walked two and struck out three in earning the no decision.
Ramsey gave the lead right back to the Seminoles in the sixth connecting on a two-run shot to right. Devon Travis opened the inning with a walk and scored on Ramsey's team leading seventh home run of the season. The Alpharetta, Ga., native took a 2-2 offering from Cooney out of the park to right to give FSU a 4-2 lead.
Wake Forest came right back with two runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at four. Williamson led off the inning with his second home run of the evening taking the first pitch from Scantling out of the park to right to cut the deficit to one. Carlos Lopez drew a walk and later scored on a groundout to short by Mark Rhine to equalize the game for the third time Friday night.
Play was suspended in the bottom of the seventh with a runner on and one out due to lightning in the area.
When play resumed Saturday afternoon following an 18-hour weather delay, the Deacs drew two walks, one intentional to Williamson, off Smith to load the bases. But the side arm right hander escaped the jam getting Lopez to fly out to right for the final out of the inning.
Wake Forest loaded the bases for the second straight inning but could not get the go-ahead run across in the eighth as Busch and Pat Blair battled in a 13-pitch at-bat with the edge going to the Seminole left hander as he got the Demon Deacon shortstop to fly out to center to end the threat.
Both teams went in order in the ninth for the first extra-inning game of the year for either school.
Wake's Jack Fischer had retired 12 Seminoles in row after recording the final out in the sixth before issuing consecutive two-out walks to Travis and Ramsey in the top of the 10th. Michael Dimock got the call out of the bullpen and got Boyd to pop up to second for the third out.
Fischer tossed 4.0 shutout innings as he did not give up a hit. He finished with three walks and struck out four.
Busch recorded a strikeout for the first out in the 10th before giving up back-to-back singles to Rhine and Brett Armour. Martin called on Benincasa and the junior right hander did not disappoint striking out pinch hitter James Harris and then getting Stephens to ground back to the pitcher's mound for the final two outs of the inning.
Florida State and Wake Forest will return to the diamond for game two of the three-game series at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 24. The game was pushed back due to weather in the area.
The game will air live over the internet on WakeForestSports.com, while fans can listen to the game locally on 100.7 FM and over the internet at Seminoles.com. Live stats will be available via gametracker, while fans can receive updates on Twitter @FSU_Baseball.