Florida State wins crucial series at NC State

Ryan Syrkus

Florida State remains in the lead of the ACC Atlantic after a series win at NC State.

No. 8 Florida State (42-10, 18-9) and No. 9 NC State (39-13, 16-10) are in the midst of fighting to try and win the ACC Atlantic Division while also trying to secure one of the eight national seeds for the NCAA Tournament. At times, both teams looked great against each other while also looking almost poorly at other times. In the end, Florida State took two of three from NC State to remain in the lead of the division and have control of their own destiny entering the last regular season weekend.

Importance of the Series

Entering the series, Florida State held a half game lead over NC State with six ACC games remaining. Three games against the Wolfpack and three games against Clemson who was a close third in the Atlantic Division. Now looking at the standings, FSU still holds their own destiny after winning two of three at NC State, but they still face a tougher test than the Pack.

What to take Away from the Series

Providing Florida State pitching can repeat their performance they had this past weekend and FSU hitting can do the same, the Seminoles are in a prime position to capture the Atlantic Division. Granted, there is still plenty of games left in the season until a national champion is determined, but FSU is putting themselves in a great position to make a run in the postseason.

Here is how each individual game broke down

Game 1
FSU 1 NC State 3

Florida State played well, but not well enough to take the first game of the series from NC State. Luke Weaver was not as spectacular as he has been in his previous starts, but he still pitched well enough to earn a win had he had some run support. Weaver lasted seven innings, allowing eight hits and three runs while striking out nine. Weaver only gave up one walk, but also had two wild pitches.

The main story of the game was NC State starter Carlos Rodon. Rodon dominated the Noles through eight innings, scattering nine hits while striking out eight. He did allow four walks, but quickly got out of most jams before turning it over to Chris Overman to close it out.

John Nogowski and Jameis Winston did most of the work offensively for FSU, but were unable to make a solid impact as most of the team struggled against Rodon. Nogowski finished 2-3 and brought in the only Seminole run while Winston finished the game 3-4.

MVP of the Game

John Nogowski – Nogo was one of the very few Seminoles who was able to get it done against Carlos Rodon. The main problem was there was no one else other than Nogo and Jameis Winston able to consistently hit Rodon.

Game 2
FSU 12 NC State 3

In a game FSU needed to win, the team came out as a whole and dominated NC State. Brandon Leibrandt looked like he did last season as he pitched eight innings, only allowing three hits and one run. Leibrandt also struck out seven while not giving up a walk.

Unlike what happened in the first game, Florida State gave plenty of runs for Leibrandt to work with. Scoring six in the first two innings and another four in the ninth, the Seminoles had the game in control from start to finish.

The top four hitters for FSU were outstanding as the combined to score eight of the twelve runs while also combining to bring in nine of the twelve runs. The top four also had nine of the 14 hits for the Noles.

MVP of the Game

DJ Stewart – As stellar as Brandon Leibrandt was, Stewart put up numbers which are rarely seen. Stewart went a perfect 3-3 with three walks, reaching base in each of his six plate appearances. Stewart also scored three runs and had three RBIs.

Game 3
FSU 8 NC State 4

Once again in what seemed like a “must win” for the Noles, Florida State comes out on top against the Wolfpack. This time around, the score was much closer as FSU held on for the 8-4 win.

The Seminoles jumped out to a quick start, leading 6-1 by the end of two. Once again, FSU would take more on the board to bring it to 8-1 in the fifth. NC State would try to fight back, getting two in the sixth and making a threat in the eighth, but only getting one across late in the game.

Scott Sitz went into the sixth inning, allowing three runs on seven hits. Sitz struck out four and gave up two walks. The bullpen was great for the Noles as Gage Smith and Robby Coles combined for 3.1 innings of two hit ball. Smith allowed a run in the eighth, but held strong to prevent any additional damage from the Pack. Smith and Coles combined to strike out four and walk one.

Marcus Davis was once again showing his strength as he finished 2-5 with 3 RBI. His only two hits came in the first and second innings. Each hit was a home run with the first going to left field and the second down the right.

MVP of the Game

Robby Coles – Yes, Marcus Davis is more than deserving of the recognition of the “game MVP”. However, the dark horse in this one was Robby Coles. After the Pack began to threaten in the eighth, Coles came in and made quick work of NC State to close it out. One. Two. Three. Series win for the Seminoles.

Looking Ahead

Florida State looks to capture the ACC Atlantic Division as they currently hold a 1.5 game lead over NC State. Only No. 19 Clemson (37-15, 17-10) stands in the way of FSU as the Tigers are one game back on the Noles.

Clemson currently holds the No. 14 RPI ranking as they have wins over South Carolina, North Carolina, NC State, Georgia Tech, and Virginia. Unfortunately for the Tigers, of the teams mentioned, only the NC State and Georgia Tech series ended with a series victory in Clemson’s favor.

Both Florida State and Clemson will be partially scoreboard watching as NC State is still in the mix for the Atlantic Division. Clemson still has a chance as well, but they would need NC State to lose against Duke while they try to win in Tallahassee. On the other hand, the Seminoles look to wrap up the division as early as possible. They simply need to focus on their games against the Tigers.

Florida State currently holds an all-time record of 66-58-1 against Clemson with a 35-15-1 record at home. The Seminoles have lost the previous three seasons series against the Tigers, including being swept by Clemson in 2010. The last time FSU has beat CU twice in a single season was 2011 as they won the opening game of the regular season series 8-6 and once again in the ACC Tournament, held in Durham, N.C., 6-3. Florida State went 1-3 against Clemson last year with the only win coming on the road in the regular season series finale.

All three games will be aired through ESPN. The first game will be on ESPN 3 while the next two will be aired on ESPNU. Game one of the series is set for 6 p.m. on Thursday.

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