Florida State held its own against one of the nation's best pitchers in Danny Hultzen, as the 'Noles became the first team all year to hold a lead against the touted lefty. FSU was able to push a run across in the top of the first when Devon Travis led-off with an infield single. After the ridiculous but predictable two bunt attempts from Sherman Johnson ended with a strikeout and passed ball, Mike McGee singled up the middle to put runners on first and third. James Ramsey hit a high chop towards second base giving the 'Hoos an opportunity to turn two, but the short hop got away from second baseman Keith Werman, and runners were safe all around as FSU took the 1-0 lead. The Cavaliers would answer in the bottom half of the inning, as John Barr smashed a triple to the gap in left center and was brought in on a sacrifice fly. However, the 'Noles would come through with a one out triple of their own in the top of the second from Justin Gonzalez, who would be driven in by Seth MIller on a sharp groundout to second with the infield in, as Werman smothered the ball but was unable to make a play at the plate and elected for the out at first.
From there, both lefty pitchers settled in nicely. Sean Gilmartin retired 12 straight UVA hitters after the first inning, and cruised until the seventh. Danny Hultzen started to mow down Florida State hitters, and finished with 12 strikeouts on the evening. Hultzen's one hiccup before being lifted after 7 innings of work was Mike McGee's lengthy solo home run to lead off the 6th. This thing was a bomb. It cleared the seats in left field and almost went into the soccer stadium. Hultzen finished with 7 IP, 6 hits, 2 earned runs, and 12 strikeouts.
The bottom of the 7th inning spelled trouble for Gilmartin. John Hicks singled to center, and Steven Proscia plated him with a one out double to left center. After a very deep sacrifice fly, Reed Gragnani delivered a two out single up the middle to tie the game at 3. Gilmartin stayed on to start the bottom of the 8th, which I was unhappy with at the time, but now realize that his pitch count was 80 and he was only in to face the 9 hitter, left handed Keith Werman. Daniel Bennett came on to finish the inning, as Gilly finished with 7.1 IP, 5 hits, 3 earned runs, and 5 K's.
The top of the 9th and 10th innings were quite the confusing ordeal. After 8-hole hitter Justin Gonzalez walked to lead-off the inning, everyone with knowledge of Mike Martin's coaching tendencies was sure that Seth MIller would be bunting. He didn't. An infield flyout brought Travis to the plate, who promptly grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. Similarly, Sherman Johnson led off the 10th with a walk on 4 pitches. Though I would've been upset with bunting McGee, I would not have been surprised, as he had just tried to bunt for a hit on his previous at-bat after hitting a 400 foot home run. Instead, McGee grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, and the 'Noles would have their last notable offensive events here.
Daniel Bennett was very solid, and kept the Cavaliers off-balance for 3 innings. Unfortunately, the 3.0 innings he pitched left him with an out to go in the bottom of the 11th, which is when the Virginia offense broke through. A two out line drive from Hicks narrowly missed clearing the wall for a walk-off HR. An intentional walk to Danny Hultzen, a very good hitter, set up a showdown with Steven Proscia. The junior third baseman would get the better of this one, driving the first pitch over the outstretched glove of left-fielder Seth Miller for the walk-off hit.
Hit the jump for some analysis and impressions.
Overall, I didn't have too many qualms about Mike Martin's game management on the evening. Although the bunt attempts with Johnson and McGee were maddening, he broke the mold in the 9th and 10th. If there was any time in which I would've been content with a bunt, it would've been in the 9th with Miller at the plate and Travis on deck. Virginia got a really good relief appearance from Justin Thompson, and their offense was simply able to break through before that of the 'Noles. Gilmartin was as good as I've seen him in a while, as he pitched curveball first but was able to keep hitters off balance, and reached 90 when he brought the fastball (according to the UVA gun). He's no Hultzen, but he threw very well this evening. Bennett was likewise solid, but a guy like that isn't keeping a good offense off the board multiple times through the order. The delivery and release point change, as well as movement, are able to be picked up very quickly when the stuff isn't lights out. The turning point in this one for FSU was the top of the seventh. A two out rally left men on first and third for Sherman Johnson, who struck out. Sherm went 0-4 with 3 K's, and failing to score here really hurt. Overall, it was an excellent game played by two good baseball teams, and game two should be very interesting.