A few days ago, I received an email in my inbox from Mike Humes, a publicist for ESPN. He asked if Tomahawk Nation would be interested in chatting with college baseball analyst Kyle Peterson. Of course we would. I really like Peterson's work. He knows baseball, but more importantly he knows college baseball. That's an important distinction, and Peterson's connections within, and knowledge of the college game shine through in the broadcast.
Peterson is a Stanford man, and since Florida State waxed the Cardinal in the Tallahassee Super Regional, it was only natural that I lead off by asking him about the recent series. "Of course it stung," Peterson said. "I definitely can remove myself because it is my job, but I didn't like the way it happened," he added.
With that out of the way, it was time to transition to questions about the Seminoles. You can tell Peterson knows this team well. He calls the players by their nicknames and doesn't speak in generalities. "I like their offensive approach. Even with game one, it's been pretty good," Peterson said. "Not many teams can score runs in bunches. But they put 'em up bang, bang, bang and it's over. Not many teams have that quick strike ability," he added. Peterson mentioned that with the new bats and the dimensions in Omaha, many teams play for a single run, but FSU has the ability to score in multiples.
Peterson also complimented Florida State's defense, particularly Ramsey. I appreciated that he made his evaluation based on multiple viewings of the 'Noles and not just the Arizona game in which Gonzalez made multiple errors from his short stop position.
The pitching also received plenty of praise. "Phenomenal. I know him from his Oklahoma days," Peterson said of Florida State's new pitching coach Mike Bell. "It takes guts to throw two freshman. You have to commit to it. I think they saw something with the mental ability [of the two freshmen] in fall. They knew they had a strong bullpen and built it from the back end, asking the freshman to give what they could from the front. I think they instilled a lot of confidence in them," he said.
As for an area in which FSU can improve, Peterson pointed to better consistency in the back end of the lineup.
Peterson has seen UCLA, Florida State's next opponent (Tue, 8 EST, ESPN2), four times. Peterson is impressed with UCLA's balance as a team. "I liked their offensive approach in game one, but in game two it was inconsistent," Peterson said. Peterson talked about how UCLA does the little things well.
I asked Peterson about what Florida State needs to do to beat UCLA. "Ground balls. You want them out on their front foot. Outs are good, but I think you'll be able to tell their approach early," Peterson said of UCLA swinging for the fences or being willing to take the ball up the middle and to the opposite field.
I asked Peterson if he thinks Florida State can beat Arizona in back-to-back games should the 'Noles defeat UCLA Tuesday night. "Yes. If you said Florida State needed to win two games against Arizona back-to-back, I'd probably say they can do it 20 or 30 times out of 100, but not much more than that," Peterson said. He added that Florida State's bullpen, and the rest afforded by the tournament schedule to teams that play on Saturday, like Florida State, helps the team coming from the loser's bracket. But, he added, Arizona will be well rested.
You can follow Peterson on Twitter @KP_Omaha