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Sunday, June 17, 2012

CWS: Domination at its best

Kendall Rogers        
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OMAHA, Neb. -- All good runs eventually must come to an end.

For the Stony Brook Seawolves, Sunday was that day as they were eliminated from the College World Series with a tough 12-2 loss to Florida State. As a whole, the Seawolves, who went 0-2 in Omaha, were outscored 21-3 in their two games, their appearance the first since 1986 for a team from the Northeast.

“We were a little snake bit today. You make mistakes against good teams, they make you pay,” Stony Brook head coach Matt Senk said. “We never got into a rhythm and didn’t get to a point where we were making breaks happen for ourselves.”

The Stony Brook club that dazzled the nation last weekend against LSU in the Baton Rouge Super Regional was non-existent in Omaha. Perhaps it was the inexperience and pressure. Either way, it wasn’t the same.

Against the Tigers last weekend, the Seawolves got clutch pitching performances, and they certainly did a tremendous job offensively with outfielder Travis Jankowski, catcher Pat Cantwell, third baseman William Carmona and second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum leading the charge.

None of those guys were ultra impressive in Omaha. And against the Seminoles, the trio of Jankowski, Cantwell and Carmona -- the top three hitters in the batting order -- finished the afternoon 3-for-12. They finished the CWS 4-for-24.

“There wasn’t really a difference [between supers and CWS], we just didn’t swing at good pitches,” Carmona said. “When we did, we didn’t put good swings on the ball. You miss them and they will make you pay.”

Though there’s no doubt the Seawolves struggled in every facet in Omaha, much credit also should go to Florida State starting pitcher Mike Compton.

Compton, as with fellow freshman Brandon Leibrandt, faced his stiffest test of the season in his first start in Omaha. In addition to going up against an aggressive and talented offensive lineup, he had the tough chore of harnessing his emotions as a first-year player on this stage.

Compton didn’t disappoint. He had a 1-2-3 first inning and worked out of jam in the second after walking two batters. From that point on, he got into a groove, and for the most part, cruised to a solid performance.

“Coach [Mike] Bell stressed to me that they’re a team that builds off momentum, and stringing hits gets them going,” Compton said. “He said to keep the ball low, especially with the offense they have.”

The right-hander, who entered the contest with a 2.86 ERA, struck out four batters and allowed just two runs on six hits in six innings of work. He threw 93 pitches in the game, 57 of them for strikes.

“It starts with the mound. I thought Michael did an outstanding job,” Florida State coach Mike Martin said. “Six innings of six-hit baseball. I was very impressed.”

While Compton dealt on the mound, the Seminoles gave him plenty of support at the plate with an offensive barrage that included 12 runs on 11 hits.

The Seminoles got on the board first with a single run in the first inning, and went quietly in the second. However, they had one of their biggest innings of the season with a six-run sixth that included a James Ramsey RBI double, a two-run error, and a clutch three-run home run from shortstop Justin Gonzalez, who had a rough showing in the CWS opener against Arizona.

“Absolutely lifted a cloud for me. The Friday game was a test of my faith I feel like. To be able to bounce back like that was a revelation,” Gonzalez said. “God tests us and to be able to help my club do that, I was blessed today. It’s just baseball, though, where you have your ups and downs.”

Gonzalez’s big home run paced the Seminoles, but it’s worth noting the top three hitters in the FSU batting order -- Sherman Johnson, Devon Travis and James Ramsey -- went a combined 6-for-13 with seven hits and six RBIs, a stark contrast from the lack of production against Arizona in the opener.

“I have to tell you, I’ve been with these young men for a number of years, and to hit a ball out of that ballpark today, it’s quite a feat,” Martin said. “It’s a tremendous lift when you can get five runs with just two swings of the bat.”

With the win, Florida State stays alive in the College World Series, but now continues its tough climb through the loser’s bracket. For the Seawolves, the magical ride, which climaxed with last weekend’s series win over LSU, came to an abrupt halt.

SBU’s run won’t soon be forgotten.

“It means everything,” emotional Stony Brook coach Matt Senk said. “Hopefully we did some things [in this tournament] that will have some ripple effects that will go on for a long time. I’m very proud of this team, but the disappointment of this great season coming to an end isn’t any less painful.”


PLAYER OF THE GAME: RHP Mike Compton, Florida State -- Seminoles second baseman Devon Travis certainly had a huge afternoon at the plate, but the freshman right-handed pitcher really set the tone by keeping Stony Brook’s big bats in check. Compton struck out four batters and allowed just two runs on six hits in six innings of work. He threw 93 pitches, 57 for strikes.

UNSUNG HERO: 2B Devon Travis, Florida State -- Though Compton gets player of the game, Travis had a monster afternoon at the plate. He went 3-for-3 with two walks, a home run, a double and three RBIs. Travis, a veteran, rose to the occasion when the Seminoles needed him most.

GAME WAS OVER WHEN: Florida State had just a 1-0 advantage over Stony Brook headed to the third inning, but that’s when it exploded from an offensive standpoint. The Seminoles scored six runs in the inning, caped off by a three-run homer from shortstop Justin Gonzalez. Also in the inning, Seminoles center fielder James Ramsey hit an RBI double. The Seminoles never looked back.

WHAT'S NEXT: With the tough loss, the magical Seawolves were eliminated from the College World Series with a fabulous 52-15 overall record. Meanwhile, the Seminoles stay alive with starting pitchers Scott Sitz (3-3, 3.99) and Luke Weaver (1-0, 5.68) waiting in the wings. 

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