June 1, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. ---- UAB starter Michael Busby held No. 3 national seed Florida State to two runs on five hits Friday, but the Blazers couldn't get key hits at the plate and wound up on the wrong end of a 2-1 decision in the first round of the Tallahassee Regional.
Busby threw a career-high 126 pitches -- 20 more than he had thrown in any game this season -- in an eight inning, complete-game performance in front of a crowd of 3,713 against the regional's top seed at FSU's Dick Howser Stadium.
UAB -- which had been 13-4 in one-run games this season -- had its chances offensively. The Blazers out-hit Florida State, 10-5, but stranded 12 base runners in the game, including the potential tying run at third base in the top of the ninth.
Making its second-ever NCAA tournament appearance and its first in 21 years, UAB (32-29) now faces an elimination game Saturday at Noon ET (11 a.m. CT) against regional No. 2 seed Mississippi State, which lost to No. 3 seed Samford in Friday's first game in Tallahassee. Florida State (44-15) advances to meet Samford in the winner's bracket Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
Saturday's UAB-Mississippi State game will be streamed live on ESPN3 and will air on the radio in the Birmingham area on WJOX-AM 690.
"You get a feel for what we think and what our kids think of Michael Busby just watching him," UAB head coach Brian Shoop said, "that beautiful balance of composure and competitiveness. I though he threw a heck of a game and gave us a chance to win.
"Most games come down to a fine line. We certainly had opportunities. We left 12 on, so we certainly had our chances but didn't come through tonight."
A two-out RBI double in the fifth inning from ACC Player of the Year James Ramsey proved to be the game-winner Friday for Florida State. Sherman Johnson scored from first on the play as one of two batters who walked and later came around to score the Seminole runs.
Earlier in the fifth, Johnson made a key defensive play after UAB tied the game 1-1 on a John Frost groundout. The FSU third baseman cut down Ivan De Jesus trying to score from third on an infield chopper to keep the game tied.
The Blazers put the first two batters on base in both the fifth and sixth innings but managed just the one run. They then loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh but couldn't scratch another run across.
"I thought they handled (the pressure) great," Shoop said. "I thought we were ready to go from the shoot. I thought we played well. If we had come through with some two-out hits, we'd be feeling awfully good. Credit their pitching staff for not allowing us to do that."
Florida State reliever Gage Smith (4-0) worked out of each of those jams from the fifth through seventh frames and went on to earn the win, tossing three and two-thirds scoreless innings in relief of Scott Sitz. The FSU starter struck out eight but needed 73 pitches to get through the first four innings before running into trouble in the fifth.
Seminole closer Robert Benincasa came on to throw the final inning and picked up his 14th save. De Jesus reached on a one-out double in the ninth and moved to third on a Frost flyout before Benincasa got Patrick Palmeiro to pop up to end the game.
Busby (5-5) suffered the loss for UAB despite his fourth straight impressive outing. Since his May 17 start against Southern Miss, Busby has thrown 24 and two-thirds innings, allowing just four runs on 14 hits. Friday's performance was his second complete game of the season.
De Jesus finished with a pair of doubles for UAB, while leadoff man Ryan Prinzing and Harry Clark also had two hits each.
Ramsey joined Josh Delph with a pair of hits for Florida State and drove in both the Seminole runs. He had an RBI single in the third inning to plate the first run of the night.