Questioned coming into the tournament on whether or not they even deserve to be a national seed, Florida State began to debunk any such thought after breezing through their regional 3-0 to move on to the Super Regionals.
With an 11-4 win over Troy, the Seminoles move on to the next round. They outscored their regional opponents (Savannah State and Troy) by a combined score of 32-4. This most recent win makes it 19 consecutive regional wins for FSU and will allow them to host the Super Regionals for the nation’s best sixth straight year. Dating back to 2000, Florida State played in the Super Regionals 11 times and hosted eight of them. FSU is looking to make it to Omaha for the 22nd time.
“We’re obviously elated to be in the position we’re in,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “We also know there is a very good team coming in here...it’s going to be a real challenge. I’m very proud of this ballclub. They got it done.”
“[Being in the Super Regionals] is huge,” said FSU catcher Stephen McGee. “To have it at home field, I’m really looking forward to it. Last year against Stanford was awesome. [The younger guys] will find out that this crowd we had [in the regionals], even though it was really good, it will get louder. It’s a onc in a lifetime experience.”
Troy had a short turnaround prior to their game against the Seminoles. After scoring four runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to eliminate Alabama in stunning fashion, the Trojans barely had two hours to get ready to face the No. 7 National Seed.
Still running high off their earlier win, Troy came out temporarily preventing Florida State from having a big inning. Trojan starter Levi Tate had a short outing as he gave up a run two hits and a walk on 19 pitches before being pulled from the game.
Josh Delph opened the game with a leadoff double to right center and was quickly brought home from DJ Stewart’s double in the same area. Stewart would advance to third on an error at second. McGee would then draw a walk before Tate was yanked from the game and replaced with Jeremy McGowan. The Noles would load the bases before Troy prevented any more damage in the first.
The Trojans would put up a fight in the 3rd inning against Seminole starter Brandon Leibrandt. Troy began the inning with a double down the right field line from Garrett Pitts. After being moved over via sacrifice bunt, Pitts would score off a single from Logan Pierce. The Trojans would get a second run in the inning after Danny Collins’ double.
Troy’s lead was short lived as a Jose Brizuela solo homerun to right field tied the game at two in the bottom half of the 3rd inning.
Once again, the Trojans would stay strong and fight back in the next half inning. Once again Pitts would score for Troy, this time coming off Clay Holcomb’s single to left center.
It was only a matter of time before something had to give. For Troy, it came in the bottom half of the 4th as the Seminoles came away with a seven run inning, breaking the game wide open.
John Sansone would get on base from a fielder’s choice and advance to second after Delph drew a walk. Stewart would load the bases after a fielder’s choice and an error at first. McGee would come to bat and get on after being hit by a pitch which brought in the tying run. Trying to get the lead back, Marcus Davis took a 1-1 pitch to left center for a 2-RBI double.
Following a John Nogowski walk, McGowan was pulled from the game in exchange for Nate Hill. Brizuela would be the victim of a strike out from Hill, still with the bases loaded. Enter Brett Knief. Staring down a 1-1 pitch, Knief took the ball to left field for his first Division I homerun of his career, giving the Seminoles a 9-3 lead over Troy.
“I thought the left fielder was going to run back and catch it,” Knief said on his grand slam. “That’s why I was busting it out of the box. I think I realized it was gone when I was about to hit second base. It might have been a world record getting around the bases.”
Now with a big lead, Leibrandt, who appeared to struggle at times during the game, came out for the 5th inning. Troy’s Trae Santos would get a run back for the Trojans off a solo homer to right field, making it 9-4 in favor of the Seminoles. Leibrandt would finish the game tossing five innings and allowing eight hits. He struck out one and walked two while also giving up all four runs Troy had in the game.
Florida State would tack on two more runs in the 7th inning, but the story quickly started to revolve around the FSU bullpen and their four shutout innings. The combination of Gage Smith, Billy Strode, and Robby Coles was too much for Troy to make a comeback as they could only muster three hits against the Seminole relief pitchers while striking out the same amount of times.
Troy’s run in the NCAA Regionals would end when Pierce grounded into a double play, securing the Florida State victory.
“Well obviously to do what we did is certainly an accomplishment that is going to be very hard for the future guys to match if we get to a regional next year,” Martin said on the Florida State pitching. “When you go two straight shutouts and [give up four today], it’s pretty indicative of the great job that Mike Bell has done with our pitching staff.”
Florida State will now move on to face Indiana in the Tallahassee Super Regionals next weekend.