Florida State narrowly misses a series win against top-ranked Virginia.


The Seminoles had a chance to take the series against top-ranked Virginia, even without a weekend starter in Brandon Leibrandt.

If you came into this series against the Nation's top ranked team expecting to lose the series but hoping to get a win, you got what you wanted.

But if you watched the series, and watched it closely, you realize that Florida State had a chance for the series win, if not the sweep. Even without a weekend starter in Brandon Leibrandt.

The series opener was, let's just say, extremely disappointing. See below.

The third and final game, the rubber-match, was all but out of reach for the Noles on Sunday, too, as they managed to drop the game, 4-3, even after recording just four hits as a team.

You have to give credit where credit's due, and Virginia's starter Brandon Waddell pitched a great game Sunday, allowing only two runs on three hits. He kept Florida State off-balance, making it hard for the Noles to get anything going.

Ben DeLuzio didn't seem to have much trouble, though, as he recorded three of Florida State's four hits. DeLuzio, who also scored twice for the Noles, seems to be hitting his stride again. Sunday was DeLuzio's third 3-hit game of the season, but the first since his injury.

While DeLuzio had a big day, John Sansone would be the one to break the ice for the Seminoles when, in the bottom of the third inning, he cranked one to left field for a two-run home run cutting Virginia's lead to just one.

And while FSU's struggles at the plate continued, its pitching staff did a great job of keeping the Noles in the game.

Bryant Holtmann, who started the game for the Noles, threw two hit-less innings to start the game before giving up three runs in the third.

And in the fourth, Holtmann would cringe in pain after delivering a pitch to Kenny Towns. He would leave the game. The extent of Holtmann's injury is still unknown at this point, but it's worth pointing out that he had Tommy John surgery his senior year of high school. You hate to see kid's get injured; hope he's okay.

But Peter Miller would come in to relieve Holtmann and was impressive, allowing only one run on one hit, and striking out four during his three innings pitched.

The Noles would again have a chance to create some thunder, this time in the bottom of the eighth inning with the bases loaded, two outs.

John Nogowski would milk the count and eventually draw a bases loaded walk to again cut the Virginia lead to just one. And after Jose Brizuela narrowly missed a grand slam to right side, he was caught swinging through the third strike to end any threat.

And that would be it.

Virginia's closer Nick Howard would record four consecutive strike outs to end the game and seal the series win.

As one looks back at this series loss, it's a tough one to swallow. This marks the first home ACC series dropped by Florida State since Clemson took one in 2011.

And yes, it's baseball, and there are many factors that come into play during 27 innings at the ballpark. But this series was not only lost on the field, but just as much so from the dugout.

Game 2

They say revenge is a dish best served cold.

And Mike Compton was as cold-blooded as they come Saturday night. He threw 6.1 innings against a top-ranked Virginia team, refusing to surrender a run to shut them out, 7-0, for the first time in 156 games, which happened to be the Nation's best streak.

The righty did what he does best, keeping hitters off-balance and forcing ground balls. While Compton only struck out one batter, he also issued just one walk.

Head coach Mike Martin may have said it best after the game when trying to describe what it's like to face Mike Compton when he's in the zone, "when he's cookin', it ain't any fun."

It wasn't any fun for a Virginia team that recorded seven hits against Compton, but couldn't find a way to muster a run. Out of the nine runners Virginia left stranded Saturday night, six of those were the three, four and five hitters. Meaning, its best hitters got hits and got on base, but everyone else hit into ground outs - six of which would end an inning.

"Mike throws such a heavy ball," Martin explained, "so it's really hard to get anything in the air because your timing has to be perfect."

Florida State's approach at the plate was tough to handle for Virginia's Josh Sborz too, as seven different Florida State starters reached base.

The fourth inning, though, the one that broke the ice, was a big morale boost for the Noles.

Jose Brizuela doubled to right-center after a John Nogowski walk putting runners on the corners for FSU. And John Sansone would clean the base paths with a 2 RBI single to the left side giving the Noles a 2-0 lead.

"It was huge after a heart-breaker last night to come out here and put up a seven spot," Sansone said. "It definitely gives us a little momentum and hopefully we can carry it over into tomorrow."

But the Noles weren't going to settle with a two-run lead.

The fifth inning may have been the back-breaker, as the Noles managed four more runs on just three hits.

A De La Calle walk and a Delph single would put runners on the corners, while DJ Stewart followed by executing a hit-and-run single up the middle to bring across the inning's first run. Jose Brizuela hit his second double - in as many innings - this time down the right-field line bringing two more runs across for the Noles. And after a John Sansone sac-fly RBI, Florida State had a much more comfortable lead, 6-0.

"A two run lead against these guys definitely isn't enough," Sansone said, "and for him(Compton) to come back out and get three straight outs was just huge."

Sansone tallied another sac-fly RBI in the seventh inning, and that would be plenty.

Billy Strode came in to relieve Compton in the seventh and he didn't disappoint. The lefty, who hadn't made a relief appearance since April 4th, threw 2.2 innings for the Noles, allowing only two hits and striking out three batters, all without issuing a walk. Meaning, through nine innings pitched on Saturday, the FSU pitching staff allowed a single walk.

While the Noles can appreciate their bounce-back performance, they know they have another game ahead of them. And they want the win.

"Today's over with," Jose Brizuela said, "and tomorrow we have to come out with the same intensity."

Florida State and Virginia will meet again Sunday afternoon for a rubber-match with the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.

Game 1

A few miscalculations may have caused Florida State a win against a top-ranked club in Virginia, as they dropped the series opener 5-3.

It was a big fifth inning surge that gave the 'Noles a 3-1 lead and the momentum to carry them through until the eighth.

Justin Gonzalez, who recently got dropped in the lineup, would come up big as he hit a RBI double off the top of the wall in right-center driving in the game-tying run for FSU. Ben DeLuzio would reach first base after a head-first slide for a bunt single, and then Josh Delph would clean things up with a 2 RBI single through the left side.

The 'Noles felt comfortable, but maybe too comfortable.

The first miscalculation came in that very same inning when, after DJ Stewart flared up his ankle injury, Jameis Winston entered the lineup to replace Stewart instead of Casey Smit. Not only has Smit hit well during his time at the plate this year, but Winston has struggled.

In the end, this switch had more of an effect than just one hitter being better than the other, it effected the lineup as a whole. The Florida State staff was scratching and clawing during the last few innings trying to find a viable option at the plate, but couldn't. It was too jumbled.

And in the bottom of the 10th, when they needed quality at-bats the most, they were stuck with bottom of the lineup kind of hitters, who just happened to be nice and snug in front of John Nogowski at the top of the lineup.

Not good.

Luke Weaver threw a great game against a very tough opponent in Virginia. During his seven innings pitched, Weaver did allow nine hits, but he struck out five and only allowed three runs - two of which were solo home runs. And the second one should have never happened.

As the top of the eighth inning showed its face, so did Florida State's second miscalculation. Weaver, who was already at 98 pitches through seven innings, took the mound again, this time to face the 3, 4 and 5 hitters for Virginia.

And as Weaver delivered his 100th pitch, Virginia's 3-hole hitter Mike Papi sent a no-doubter over the right field wall and into the parking lot to tie the game.

Why not bring in Gage Smith for the eighth? Why not see how Smith does, or plan on Winston for the ninth?

Yes, Weaver had thrown 100+ pitches in his previous two outings, but this Virginia team is different. They're the top-ranked team in the country for a reason, and they took advantage of that miscalculation.

However, the game was still tied 3-3 and Florida State had its chances. Of the seven runners the 'Noles left on base Friday night, four of them were during the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

But the heart-breaker came in the ninth inning when Florida State would load the bases after Virginia intentionally walked Ben DeLuzio.

Ladson Montgomery, who has had some good swings at the plate, came in to hit for Danny De La Calle. He struck out swinging. Josh Delph would see three straight balls to begin his at-bat, take two strikes, and then eventually ground out to second base to end the inning for the 'Noles.

The 'Noles will have to let this one go, but it's a tough one to swallow, I'm sure. They had the win in their grasps, but they just couldn't hold on. And man, they would've loved to have had DJ Stewart take some swing down the stretch, especially after he started the game 2-for-2.

Game 2 of this series is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday evening. Mike Compton will start for the Seminoles.

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