Florida State (18-6, 6-3 ACC) won two out of three games in conference play this past weekend. This would ordinarily be fine and well except that when a less-than-impressive Wake Forest (8-15, 3-6 ACC) team comes to Tallahassee, you hope to pull off the sweep and pad your division lead. However, that wasn't how the weekend played out.
The Seminoles started off very well and won Friday night's game handily by a score of 12-4. FSU benefitted from another good start by pitcher Sean Gilmartin (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) and Jayce Boyd's first career grand slam, which came in the first inning. Mike McGee, Sherman Johnson and Justin Gonzalez all had two hits apiece. Friday night also saw the return of Stuart Tapley to left field where he started the season before a hamstring injury relegated him to designated hitting duties. He started in left all weekend. Also notable was that Florida State used three relievers not named Daniel Bennett or Mack Waugh to finish out the game. Those three were Peter Miller, Robby Scott and Connor Nolan. Miller struggled, pitching two-thirds of an inning and giving up 3 walks, 3 runs (1 earned) with a few wild pitches thrown in for spice.
Saturday's game was a different story altogether however. Wake Forest's Saturday starter Tim Cooney smoked a juggled Seminole lineup with 7.2 innings of 5-hit baseball that featured 11 strikeouts (four of which rung up Mike McGee) and only a single walk. Combined with a poor start from FSU's Scott Sitz (1.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) who only faced 14 batters before being lifted for Brian Busch, Wake Forest jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and won the game 8-0. Mike Martin apparently felt the need to shake things up Saturday night as the Seminole batting order featured Rafael Lopez second as the designated hitter and Sherman Johnson dropped to sixth spot. Tapley batted down a spot at eighth and Parker Brunelle started at catcher and batted ninth. But it didn't really matter as Cooney just dominated the Seminoles on a night that saw him throw 129 pitches.
FSU bounced right back on Sunday though with an 11-2 win that extended their Sunday winning streak to 24 games. FSU scored three runs in the first inning with back-to-back home runs by Mike McGee and James Ramsey and added five more in the second (four of which came with 2 outs) to stake starter Gary Merians to an 8-1 lead. Ramsey finished 2-for-4 with 3 RBI and Justin Gonzalez also added two hits including his fourth home run of the season. Despite the fact Florida State had three home runs and a double through the first 1.1 innings of the game, Mike Martin had Lopez, Tapley, Easterling, Travis and Boyd all attempt to bunt early in their first at-bats. In the case of Boyd, he bunted foul and then hit a 2-run single on the very next pitch. Merians (6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) improved his record to 4-1 with a solid start after getting through a shaky first inning that saw Wake Forest score one of their two runs on a throwing error by Sherman Johnson after Merians surrendered a walk and a single earlier in the inning. Robby Scott, Robert Benincasa and Daniel Bennett each pitched a scoreless inning in relief to secure the victory.
Tonight, Florida State travels to Jacksonville for the third of their four meetings with the Florida Gators. Florida State has won the last three games against Florida played in Jacksonville. The Gators are ranked 4th in this week's Baseball America poll, falling from the top spot after losing two of three games to SEC East rival South Carolina. It was Florida's first series loss at home in nearly two years. Florida State will
send junior righty Hunter Scantling (1-0, 1.04 ERA) to the mound to start against Florida junior right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (3-0, 1.12 ERA, 3 saves). Scantling appeared to start strong in the last meeting between the two teams, striking out four Gator batters in his first trip through the lineup. Florida quickly caught up to him though and he didn't make it through a second time as Mike Martin lifted him in favor of Robert Benincasa in the first of what would be a bizarre string of eight pitching substitutions. FSU would end up blowing a 4-0 lead and lose the game 5-4 in ten innings.
DeSclafani has pitched 3.2 innings (including the final two of the game in Gainesville) against FSU this year. He's given up no hits, only one walk and struck out three of the fourteen Seminole batters he's faced. He is an experienced starter, but he's become more of a reliever over the last season and a half with 11 of his 17 career starts coming in his freshman season.
Join Tomahawk Nation tonight for a live game thread as Florida State looks to claim their second win of the season against the rival Gators.
Game time: 7:00pm ET
Television: FoxSports Florida