CWS Game Five: Miami 7, Florida State 5

See also: Miami-Florida State Box Score

OMAHA—Florida State coach Mike Martin had an unlucky 13th trip to the College World Series, one all too common in Seminoles’ history.

The latest trip ended Monday afternoon, as Florida State squandered opportunity after opportunity in a 7-5 loss to Atlantic Coast Conference and in-state rival Miami (53-10). The top-seeded Hurricanes advance to Wednesday’s bracket semifinal against the loser of tonight’s Georgia-Stanford tilt.

The third inning—Florida State left the bases loaded, while Miami got four runs. Dropped in the lineup from the fifth to the seventh spot, junior right fielder Dennis Raben responded, drilling a two-run single to cap the rally.

Sophomore lefthander Eric Erickson had to come in unexpectedly to replace injured starter David Gutierrez, but he held Florida State at bay with one run while striking out six in five innings.

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Buster Posey had four hits for the Seminoles but will not win the Division I triple crown, as he finished with 26 home runs. LSU’s Matt Clark passed him Sunday with his 27th, while Fresno State’s Alan Ahmady trails him by just five RBIs.

The Seminoles (54-14) left 17 runners on base, tying the CWS record for a nine-inning game and ranking fifth all-time. Eleven were left in scoring position, and the ‘Noles left the bases loaded in the ninth after scoring three runs off Miami’s suddenly shaky closer, Twins first-round pick Carlos Gutierrez.

“I don’t mind pitching with runners on base,” deadpanned Hurricanes lefthander Eric Erickson, summoned in relief in the second inning when Gutierrez’s brother David, the starter, was knocked out of the box by a comeback line drive. Erickson struck out six in five innings to move to 9-1 on the season.

David Gutierrez left the game and had X-rays taken at a local hospital that came back OK, and coach Jim Morris hoped to have him available to pitch later in the Series, if the Hurricanes stick around.

To stick around, Miami will need to keep getting big hits, as it did Monday with home runs by Jemile Weeks and Blake Tekotte, as well as two-run singles from Dennis Raben (in the third) and Jason Hagerty (in the seventh).

“They out-hit us,” Morris said, “but we got ’em when they counted.”

Raben added, “I still don’t think we swung the bat well. I had one two-out hit, and Hagerty had one . . . but I still feel like we aren’t swinging the bats the way we have all year.”

The Hurricanes also must get Carlos Gutierrez back on track, as he blew a one-run lead Saturday against Georgia in a 7-4 loss and then gave up four hits, two walks and three runs in the ninth Monday. Morris said Gutierrez was struggling with his fastball command and confidence, and Florida State nearly took full advantage, with consecutive hits to start the inning followed by consecutive groundouts that scored a run. After a walk, Tyler Holt and Jason Stidham had consecutive RBI singles, making the score 7-5 and bringing College Player of the Year Buster Posey to the plate as the go-ahead run.

Gutierrez ran the count full on Posey, then decided not to challenge him, throwing a slider out of the strike zone to walk him and load the bases. Right fielder Jack Rye got ahead in the count and chopped the 2-1 pitch toward second base, where Weeks handled a tricky hop and fed shortstop Ryan Jackson for a game-ending force play.

“It goes to show what kind of team we were because of Buster’s at-bat,” Martin said. “Somebody else might have tried to be the hero in that situation, but he turned it over to the next guy. Jack had hit the ball hard all day . . . “

Martin later said assistant coach Jamey Shouppe had encouraged the Seminoles before the ninth, saying Rye would win the game for them in the ninth if they gave him the chance. Rye was the ninth hitter to bat for the Seminoles and nearly made Shouppe a prophet.

“If you had told me before we started the game that we’d get 18 hits and not make any errors,” Martin said, “I would have certainly taken my chances.”

Instead, the ‘Noles finish 40 games over .500, with the national Player of the Year, and yet another two-and-barbecue trip to Omaha. Only Northern Colorado, which as an Omaha regular in the 1950s and ’60s went 2-18 in nine trips, has finished 0-2 more often than Florida State in CWS history.

Northern Colorado did it seven times under coach Pete Butler. Florida State has six total 0-2 trips, with four coming under Martin since 1980. The Seminoles extended their record two 19 trips to the CWS without a national championship; Clemson, with 11 such trips, ranks second.

“Obviously I’m disappointed for our players, but should they be?” Martin said. “Only one team will be leaving here with a smile. We didn’t get the prize, but we got a bundle of memories, and that’s what this involves. There will be six more disappointed coaches sitting up here.

“I’m not going to take anything away from what this team accomplished. I have never had—never, in 29 years—never had a better group of young men in my entire career. They represented the Seminole nation well.”

Fifty-four wins certainly says they did. Their short stay in Omaha, though, is all too familiar for Martin and Seminoles fans.