The grounders were as routine as they get. But Rhode Island botched two potential, game-ending double plays and Florida State made the most of the opportunities.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth, Jayce Boyd smacked a two-run double off the screen in right-center field to give the Seminoles a dramatic 6-5 victory on Sunday afternoon.
“I was pretty sure it was going to go off the screen when I hit it,” Boyd said. “… They didn’t make the plays and we took advantage of it. It’s a challenge for sure. I’m just glad I got the opportunity.”
Boyd finished off an 8-for-12 series with seven RBIs as the Seminoles (36-7) scored three runs in the ninth inning to earn their eighth weekend series sweep of the season. His walk-off hit was the first of his career.
The hit capped a stunning rally for FSU, which trailed 5-3 going into the bottom of the ninth inning. With one out, Rhode Island shortstop Tim Caputo and then second baseman Pat Fortunato misplayed ground balls – failing to not just turn a double play or at least get an out at second.
With the inning extended and Rhode Island’s lead down to just 5-4, James Ramsey was walked on four straight pitches – all of which were far out of the strike zone. That loaded the bases for Boyd, who smacked the first pitch he saw off the screen.
“The Comeback Assassins,” Sherman Johnson said. “That’s great to win like that. A team win. That’s one of those games when 11 (Martin) says you have 27 outs, that’s one of those games. It showed today.”
Rhode Island (26-19) did most of its damage in a four-run third inning that chased FSU starter Scott Sitz. The senior right-hander lasted just 2.1 innings, allowing four earned runs and hitting two batters.
Jeff Cammans had a three-run homer – his first of the season – in the third inning to put Rhode Island up 4-0.
The Rams pounded out 13 hits, and leadoff hitter Jeff Roy went 5 for 5.
But FSU’s relievers – Luke Weaver, Gage Smith, Mack Waugh and Hunter Scantling – settled in and kept the Seminoles in the game. They combined to throw 6.2 innings and gave up eight hits but allowed just one run. As a group, they had while seven strikeouts and allowed just one walk.
“We just kept trying to keep the game within reach and our guys did a very good job of getting it done,” FSU coach Mike Martin said. “That was a game to remember.”
Johnson also filled in capably at shortstop for Justin Gonzalez, who did not play against Rhode Island after suffering a hamstring injury in the final game of the Miami series.
He had two RBIs and scored a run, but as important was his error-less play in moving over from third base.
“I haven’t taken a ground ball at shortstop in a game since I was 12 years old,” Johnson said. “Justin was out there pregame working with me, telling me where to play lefties and righties, double-play depth, and just little things to do out there. It was cool to work with him.”
Martin said Gonzalez was at about 85 percent and is improving. He’s not sure if Gonzalez will take the field when FSU travels to Jacksonville on Wednesday at 6 p.m.