FSU eliminates No. 2 UCLA from CWS
FSU eliminates No. 2 UCLA from CWS
After five innings of two-hit ball, Scott Sitz stood on the mound at the College World Series dangerously close to blowing the four-run cushion his Florida State teammates had given him.
Sitz bore down and told himself UCLA would only get that one run.
He was right.
Sitz struck out the side as No. 3 Florida State eliminated No. 2 UCLA from the College World Series with a 4-1 victory Tuesday at TD Ameritrade Park.
"I was just thinking to myself, this could be the last batter that I face, so I've got to get him, and I gave it my all," Sitz said. "After that third strikeout, I don't think I've ever been more pumped up in my life."
The Seminoles (50-16) advance to face Arizona (45-17) at 4 p.m. CT on Thursday, while UCLA ends its season at 48-16. Arizona defeated Florida State, 4-3, in 12 innings on the first day of the College World Series.
"He was in a tight spot, and we had our opportunity to kind of get back in the game," said UCLA center fielder Beau Amaral, who went 2-for-4. "We got one run, but he definitely shut us down and made some good pitches against us."
Sitz returned to the mound in the seventh before exiting after 6 2/3 innings. He allowed five hits, struck out eight and walked one while throwing a career-high 103 pitches.
The top of the Florida State lineup led the Seminoles' offensive attack, all registering two hits. Third baseman Sherman Johnson -- who was selected by the Angels in the 14th round of Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft --- reached base four times and scored twice, while second baseman Devon Travis (13th round, Tigers) and center fielder James Ramsey (23rd overall, Cardinals) each went 2-for-3 and scored a run.
UCLA head coach John Savage said Johnson was the best player on the field, while Florida State head coach Mike Martin said he was a "pest."
"That's the only way I can describe Sherman Johnson," Martin said. "When he faced the guy throwing 90-whatever [mph], the guy was bringing up little bitty baseballs there in the ninth inning, and Sherman gets up there and goes [seven] pitches. There is your consummate leadoff hitter."
While Sitz was in control from the get-go, UCLA pitchers couldn't find the strike zone. Bruins starter Zack Weiss faced only five batters -- giving up a single and walking three -- before being lifted after walking in the game's first run. Reliever Grant Watson entered and also walked in a run before getting an inning-ending double play.
In all, Weiss, Watson and righty Ryan Deeter walked eight.
"That's certainly not playoff pitching," Savage said.
The Seminoles doubled their lead in the fourth with three straight singles off Watson before he was replaced by Deeter.
Florida State cleanup hitter Jayce Boyd dropped down a safety squeeze on his own, which UCLA third baseman Kevin Kramer overran. Johnson scored from third and Travis, who was on second, rounded third and headed to the plate. Kramer recovered the ball but threw wildly to home, allowing Travis to score.
"I told [Johnson], if that third baseman's even a step behind the bag, I'm laying one down," Boyd said. "I don't even think the pitch that I bunted was anywhere near the strike zone. But I knew the element of surprise would have been gone if I let it go by."
The Bruins went down in order in the final 2 1/3 innings against Florida State right-handers Hunter Scantling (14th round, Tigers) and Robert Benincasa.
UCLA's loss, coupled with No. 1 Florida's on Monday, eliminates the tournament's top two seeds. Like the Gators, who were appearing in their third straight College World Series, this was a veteran UCLA team that was making its second trip to Omaha in the last three years.
Seven current players were on that 2010 squad and are part of a junior class that won more games than any other in program history.
"I'm just very proud of our program. These guys have really been taking this program to new heights," Savage said. "We're disappointed. We didn't play very well. I think everybody saw that. ... But at the end of the day, I'm very proud of this group of players. Very proud of this junior class. One of the best classes in the history of the school, period."
No. 3 Florida State 4, No. 2 UCLA 1
No. 8 South Carolina (46-18) vs. Kent State (47-19), 7 p.m. CT.