Maybe the most important non-scoring moment in Arizona’s 4-3 win over Florida State Friday night came in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Could the Seminoles have approached it any differently? Should they have? This blog is for second-guessing, the same way every long-time baseball fan would while wallowing in post-game despair.
The scenario: FSU had its leadoff man on first base in a tie game (3-3) in the 10th inning. Its best hitter — James Ramsey (13 home runs, 57 RBI) — was at the plate. Again, no outs with a runner on first. Arizona freshman left-hander Tyler Crawford was on the mound.
The result: Ramsey didn’t bunt. He got ahead in the count (2-0), but ended up striking out on a pitch in the dirt. With the next batter (Jayce Boyd) up, FSU’s Devon Travis was caught stealing on what appeared to be a hit-and-run attempt. Boyd then grounded out to end the inning.
Explanation from FSU coach Mike Martin: “The reason we didn’t sacrifice James is because that would have meant Jayce would not have had got a chance to hit. They would have put him on. And James has had no trouble with left-handers and he won’t have any trouble with left-handers at the next level. You just have to credit Crawford for making an outstanding pitch to get James to chase it. You just don’t see James chase that ball. It was one of those situations that he made the pitch and you just go to the next guy.”
My take: Yes, by sacrificing Ramsey — the MLB draft’s No. 23 overall pick — and allowing Boyd (a .381 hitter) to be walked, you take the bat out of your two best players’ hands. Kind of crazy. … But by sacrificing, you also put pressure on the defense. This is college baseball, where mistakes are common and inexperience is often exposed. A runner on second with one out? I’d take my chances with that pressure-filled scenario in the 10th inning, especially considering the fact that Florida State didn’t get a runner past first base between the seventh and 11th innings.