TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Alabama starting pitcher Justin Kamplain threw eight innings and the Crimson Tide held on in the ninth inning to defeat the Florida State Seminoles, 6-5, in the Tallahassee Regional elimination game on Saturday afternoon from Dick Howser Stadium.
“For Justin (Kamplain), it was one of his best starts all year and he did a great job keeping them off balance,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “We showed life offensively, particularly against (Luke) Weaver who is a very dominant pitcher. Then we get to the ninth inning and it got really interesting, especially for us, with what happened here last year. But just to find a way to get that win was huge for our team. I think it’s something that we can build on moving through the remainder of the tournament.”
With the Tide holding a 6-0 lead leading to the bottom of the ninth, Florida State scored five runs on two hits with three walks and two hit batters in its last trip to the plate.
After eight scoreless innings, Kamplain gave up a leadoff single in the ninth inning John Nogowski and was replaced by Jon Keller. Keller’s day was short-lived as he hit two and walked one of the three batters he faced to put of the first run on the board for the Seminoles.
The Tide went to the bullpen for closer Thomas Burrows, who walked the first two batters he faced to make the score 6-3. Then, after recording a pair of out, Noles’ All-American left fielder DJ Stewart drove in two with a single to center field to cut the Bama lead to one at 6-5.
With the tying run at third, FSU pinch-hitter Gage West flew out to center field to end the game, sending the Tide to Saturday’s elimination game against either Georgia Southern or Kennesaw State. West was hitting in Nogowski’s spot in the order, after he was replaced by a pinch-runner after his lead-off single.
“To start out the ninth inning, we told Justin that that we’d give him 10 pitches to try to finish it out,” Gaspard said. “When the first guy gets the base hit, we sort of felt like that was it for him. We wanted to go to Jon Keller. I was hoping Jon could take us home and we wouldn’t have to use the closer there, be he wasn’t very sharp today. At that point, we had to go right to (Tom) Burrows. It’s a tough spot for a freshman, especially when the crowd gets going. But I thought he was able to regroup after a tough starts and a couple walks.”
Kamplain earned the win, after allowing one run on five hits with four walks and three strikeouts. Kamplain improved to 7-3 on the season and the Tide is now 6-1 in his last seven starts. Prior to the allowing a run in the ninth, Kamplain had not allowed a run in 18.1 consecutive innings. Burrows, who allowed a run on a hit with two walks, recorded the last three outs of the game to record his 11th save of the season.
Mikey White had a big day at the plate for the Tide, going 2-for-4 with a home run and three runs scored. Austen Smith stayed hot, posting a 2-for-3 day that included his second straight game with two doubles. Wade Wass was 1-for-4, but his only hit of the game was a seventh inning two-run home run to put Bama ahead by six, which eventually ended up as the game-winning run.
Of Florida State’s six hits (all singles) Stewart has two with two RBI, and Brett Knief, Casey Smit, Nogowski and Justin Gonzalez had a hit each. Gonzalez also walked twice and Ben DeLuzio walked three times.
FSU starting pitcher Luke Weaver (8-4) took the loss after allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts in five innings. Reliever Gage Smith allowed three runs on four hits in an inning and a third and Jameis Winston closed out the day for the Seminoles, throwing 2.2 scoreless innings, allowing no hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
After two scoreless innings, White hit the first pitch of the third inning from Weaver over the wall in left field to put the Tide ahead, 1-0. It was the seventh home run of the season for the Alabama shortstop.
The Tide got a big break in the fifth inning when FSU third baseman Jose Brizuela committed an error on a Wade Wass ground ball that allowed White to score from second. The next hitter, Austen Smith drove a ball to the wall in right center for his fourth double of the regional to drive in Wass, putting Alabama up 3-0 in the middle of the fifth.
Bama extended its lead of 4-0 when Ben Moore had an RBI single to drive in White. White singled to start the UA seventh and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Salem. Wass followed with his fifth home run of the season as he homered off the scoreboard in left field off FSU reliever Gage Smith.
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Courtesy: UA Media