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April 20, 2012Stay connected to the Canes. Sign-up for CaneSport.com Wireless Text Alerts sent right to your cell phone and register with CaneSport on FACEBOOK and TWITTER! Don't miss the all-new digital CANESPORT MAGAZINE - - covering every game inside and out.
Opening up one of the most anticipated series of the college baseball season, the No. 12 Miami Hurricanes dropped game one of their weekend set with the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles by a final score of 11-2.
On a perfect night for baseball at Dick Howser Stadium, veteran Eric Erickson entered the opener looking to extend his dominance over the team's in-state rival. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes (26-12, 12-7 ACC), the southpaw lasted only five innings against the Seminoles, matching a career-high with six earned runs allowed, as Miami fell to 7-6 on the road.
Shortstop Justin Gonzalez powered Florida State on Friday night, connecting for two homeruns and three RBI in a dominant showing from the team's offense. The Seminoles combined for 13 hits off Hurricanes pitchers, plating runs in five different innings.
It was the Canes who nearly opened the scoring with a bases-loaded opportunity in the top of the first, but came up empty as Seminoles' starter Brandon Leibrandt (4-1) got out of a tough jam.
After recording the first two outs of the inning, the freshman lefthander allowed his first of two walks in the inning to Chantz Mack. Brad Fieger then reached on a catcher's interference, while Stephen Perez helped load the bases on Leibrandt's second walk. But Rony Rodriguez, making his first start since April 7 after suffering a hand injury, flew out to deep right-center to end the threat.
The Seminoles (31-7, 17-2 ACC) struck for the game's first run in the bottom of the inning, as Sherman Johnson led off the game with his first of three doubles on the day. Back-to-back singles from Devon Travis and James Ramsey would load the base with no outs, but Erickson buckled down in his opening frame to hold the Seminoles to only one run. The veteran southpaw induced a foul-out from Jayce Boyd, a fielder's choice RBI from Stephen McGee and a strikeout of Jose Brizuela to get out of the inning with minimal damage and keep his team within striking distance.
The Hurricanes would tie the game up at one run apiece in the third inning, keyed by a lead-off double from Tyler Palmer. In true "small-ball" fashion, sophomore centerfielder Dale Carey advanced Palmer to third with a perfect sacrifice bunt before Mack drove him in on a sacrifice fly to right field.
But after tying the game in the top half of the third, a defensive miscue from Mack would help the Seminoles regain the lead in the bottom of the frame. With Sherman Johnson on third after another lead-off double, Travis connected on a single to left that was bobbled by Mack, plating Johnson for the Noles' second run of the night.
Florida State would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way, as they tacked on four runs in the next two innings, including three in a crucial fifth inning, putting the Hurricanes away for good. Gonzalez delivered the knockout blow in a five-run seventh with his second homerun of the game, this one a two-run shot off reliever Alex San Juan, extending the Noles lead to 9-1.
Leibrandt, alongside relievers Hunter Scantling and Bryant Holtmann, rendered the Canes offensive ineffective with an impressive pitching performance from the Seminoles Staff. They allowed only five hits to the Hurricanes , two of which came in the ninth inning and long after the game was decided.
The Hurricanes will return to action for game two of the series on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is set for noon from Dick Howser Stadium, with the game scheduled for broadcast on ESPN3.com.