TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Eight days after losing three straight games in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, Florida State reversed course.
And in a big way.
The Seminoles beat Samford 5-2 on Sunday to sweep the Tallahassee Regional at home and advance to a fifth straight NCAA super regional appearance.
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The Seminoles, seeded third nationally, will host Stanford or Pepperdine next weekend. Stephen McGee and Josh Delph hit two-run singles for the Seminoles (46-15), who won three straight games in the double-elimination round.
Freshman Mike Compton (11-2) fanned five without a walk in six innings in Sunday’s finale while closer Robert Benincasa pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save.
“They did not panic,” Florida State coach Mike Martin said, noting how his club rebounded from last week’s collapse in the ACC tourney. “They went out there and did what they needed to do.”
Especially his pitchers.
Florida State’s starters allowed just two earned runs in the tournament and four runs overall — the fewest ever in any of the school’s postseason tournament appearances.
Florida State outscored Samford 13-3 in its last two games after nipping UAB 2-1 in Friday’s opener.
Martin credited his staff with having “great poise.” His 1-2 starters are Compton and Brandon Leibrandt, both freshmen. Leibrandt handcuffed normally hard-hitting Samford with just three singles in eight innings in Florida State’s 8-1 win Saturday.
Compton said he hoped to emulate his teammate’s appearance on Sunday.
“Just keep them off balance,” Compton said. “It was mainly changing speeds and working the corners.”
The Seminoles didn’t waste any time getting started Sunday, taking a 5-0 lead by the third inning.
Delph singled in two runs and then scored on a sacrifice fly that staked Florida State to a 3-0 lead in the second inning and finished Samford starter C.K. Irby (5-2). McGee singled home the Seminoles’ final two runs in the third inning.
“They punched us in the mouth right out of the gate,” Samford coach Casey Dunn said. “We tried to fight back. In the end, we just couldn’t do enough.”
Irby had notched his 10th save just a few hours earlier Sunday as the Bulldogs eliminated Mississippi State 3-2.
“We just wanted to try to get off to a good start,” Dunn said. “They were able to put together some good at-bats against C.K.”
Samford’s Michael Gunter held Florida State hitless the final 5 2/3 innings, but the Bulldogs offense struggled a second straight night against the Seminoles.
Tommy Corbin’s single drove in both runs for Samford in the fifth before Florida State relievers Gage Smith and Beinincasa slammed the door.
“We had our opportunities,” Dunn said. “They made more adjustments against our hitters than we made against their pitchers.”
Their pitching ended Samford’s best season in school history that culminated in its first NCAA tournament appearance and first 40-win season. The Southern Conference champions finished 41-23.
“If you told us at the beginning of the season it would end in a regional final … we would’ve all been pretty happy,” Dunn said. “When you end on a loss, it’s (still) pretty tough.”