FSU rocks Stanford, ace Appel in Super Regional opener

Stanford ace Mark Appel was rocked by Florida State in Friday night's Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regionals.

Stanford ace Mark Appel was rocked by Florida State in Friday night's Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regionals.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Stanford first-round selection Mark Appel may very well go on to have a memorable Major League Baseball career filled with fame, riches and accolades.

But he will never forget what could be the final start of his collegiate career Friday night — thanks to Florida State.

The Seminoles hammered arguably the best pitcher in college baseball during Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regionals as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top pick in Monday’s MLB Draft was knocked out of the game after just four innings during a shocking seven-run outburst that lifted FSU to a lopsided 17-1 win in the opener of the best-of-three series.

The win was also sweet revenge for FSU, which last faced Stanford in the 2008 College World Series, where the Cardinal turned a 5-5 tie game in the ninth inning into a 16-5 victory that helped end the Seminoles’ quest for their first CWS title.

“The only thing you can predict about baseball is the unpredictability. I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined what happened (Friday night) could happen, but it is truly why our sport is what it is,” FSU head coach Mike Martin said.

Martin continued: “We know that (today) it will be a different story. We know what Stanford can do. They have a tremendous program, great tradition and we are in no way thinking that we have accomplished anything except we are going to play a ball game (today) and see what happens.”

FSU will look to close out the series today in Game 2 at 6 p.m. at Dick Howser Stadium and reach the College World Series for the 21st time in school history. If Stanford wins, a do-or-die Game 3 will be played Sunday at 7 p.m.

But the way the Seminoles played Friday, Game 3 likely won’t be necessary. The Cardinal could very well find themselves on the red-eye back to California late tonight.

FSU freshman starter Brandon Leibrandt (8-2) outpitched Appel (10-2), the No. 8 overall selection who came into the game with just one loss this season, after FSU fell behind, 1-0, in the first inning. Leibrandt, the son of former Atlanta Braves pitcher Charlie Leibrandt, went six innings, gave up just six hits and struck out four on 85 pitches. Appel (4 IP, 5 H, 7 runs, 4 BB, 3 Ks and 2 hit batters on 95 total pitches) held the Seminoles’ bats at bay in the first three innings, but FSU scored seven in the fourth, four in the fifth and three each in the sixth and seventh to run away with this one, sending a distraught-looking Appel to the showers early after his worst outing of the season. FSU (47-15) finished with 17 runs on only 11 hits — and they even left 12 men on base.

The onslaught was led by junior second baseman Devon Travis, who finished 3-for-5 with two HRs, six RBI and three runs scored. James Ramsey, FSU’s senior center fielder and the ACC Player of the Year who was taken No. 23 overall by the St. Louis Cardinals, also finished 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs. Sophomore Stephen McGee was 2-for-3 — including a HR — with three RBI and a run.

“I don’t think I ever remember hitting two home runs in my life in a game,” said Travis, who now has seven on the season. “Not even little league days. I can’t really explain it. I guess I got pretty decent pitches and put good swings on them. I was definitely pretty surprised they both went over.”

Stanford (41-17) managed just seven hits, suffering its worst loss of the 2012 season.

Appel said he hopes the Cardinal can redeem themselves after he let this one get away.

“I don’t know. I just started throwing balls. I’m not someone to make excuses, I just didn’t get the job done,” Appel said. “You are always going to have a few bad outings each year. You wish they aren’t during the Super Regionals. I think we are going to come out with some fire (today) and really get after them. It’s not over yet. They still have to win one more, and we know we can win these next two.”