The Florida State Seminoles are coming off a weekend series where they lost 2 of 3 to the #1 ranked Virginia Cavaliers and a mid week loss to the Florida Gators where they did not play poorly but just ran into some really good relief pitching. The North Carolina Tarheels look to rebound after a disappointing ACC opening weekend that saw them lose 2 of 3 games to the Duke Blue Devils. UNC is hardly the same team of 2009 that swept through Regionals and Super Regionals en route to Omaha, they lost 4 of their best hitters and 2 of their 3 weekend starters which should give FSU the advantage heading into the weekend.
North Carolina has historically had excellent pitching and as you can see by the numbers below 2009 was no different. (You will notice that FSU's numbers are different than last week's UVA preview due to the fact that I used season totals instead of ACC play)
Fortunately for Florida State a lot of 2009 talent is not back for 2010, let's take a look at the projected starters.
Friday March 19th - 7 PM - Chapel Hill, NC - Radio: 1270 the Team/94.3 FM - GameTracker
Game 1 will feature FSU's lefty Sophomore Sean Gilmartin against UNC's righty Junior Matt Harvey.
Harvey is the Heels only returning weekend starter from last year and as you can see he was not terribly effective as their Sunday starter.
Harvey is off to a solid start in 2010 but Florida State still has the advantage with proven starter Gilmartin.
Saturday March 20th - 2 PM - Chapel Hill, NC - Radio: 100.7 FM - GameTracker
Game 2 will star Junior lefty John Gast against Junior righty Colin Bates.
Bates was North Carolina's horse out of the pen as he made 34 total appearances but like Parker he was not overly impressive.
John Gast has been nothing short of great all year and in his first ACC game against UVA he pitched well despite only going 4 innings. Bates is off to a great campaign which resulted in him being propomoted to the Saturday starter. He had an excellent outing in his 2010 ACC debut against Duke pitching 6 2/3 while only allowing 2 runs on 7 hits, striking out 2 and walking 1.
Sunday March 21st - 1 PM - Chapel Hill, NC - Radio: 100.7 FM - GameTracker
Game 3 will more than likely matchup Junior right Geoff Parker against Junior righty Patrick Johnson.
Patrick Johnson was a reliable weekday starter for UNC in 2009 but was mainly used out of pen in ACC play.
Johnson's first ACC start against Duke was a rough one, 3 2/3 innings pitched where 6 runs were allowed on 6 hits and 2 walks with only 3 strikeouts.
The Seminoles bullpen was doing great until this past series against #1 ranked UVA. Outside of Busch and Everett there really is no one that can be relied on. In 9 2/3 inning of relief against Duke this past weekend the Tarheels bullpen did not fare so well allowing 12 earned runs on 20 hits while striking out 10 and walking 5. It should go without saying the first offense to get into the opponent's bullpen will have the advantage.
The 2009 Tarheels offense wasn't overly impressive as they were a team built on pitching.
As was mentioned earlier North Carolina's offense was really hit hard losing 1 player to graduation and 3 to the draft including the #2 overall pick in Dustin Ackley. Those were 4 of the Tarheels top 5 hitters who accounted for roughly 44% of their total 2009 at bats. Florida State's lineup is much stronger than North Carolina's which is why the ‘Noles should be fare well in this series.
It looks like a gorgeous weekend in Chapel Hill so they should get all games in and on time.
Other Baseball Notes:
Gilmartin, Holt Spikes Watch List - The Seminole duo earns early season recognition from USA Baseball
CWS Legends Team - Fans can cast their votes for these three Seminole greats on the NCAA website now.