Florida State couldn't have asked for a better start, a perfect record with a top five ranking in most polls and outscoring their opponents 42-9 in dominating fashion. Yes the competition has been weak but so have Georgia's and their results have been far different as they limp into Tallahassee with a 1-3 record. In those four games against Georgia Southern and Kennesaw State they have been outscored 25-40 including an 18-4 blowout at the hands of the Eagles.
There is no better team in the country better than the Noles at getting on base. So far this season Florida State is reaching base just about every other plate appearance, something that should continue this weekend as UGA opponents have a .488 OBP thus far.
Georgia is 7 for 7 in stolen bases this season. The offensive accomplishments end there as they have only 6 extra base hits this season, 5 of them coming from two players. To make it worse the Dawgs have struck out 14 more times than they have walked whereas the Noles have walked 14 more times than they have struck out.
Individually for Florida State there are many contributors but DJ Stewart has picked up where he left off last season hitting .583/.684/.917 with 6 walks and only 1 strikeout. Shortstop Justin Gonzalez has looked great in his return from injury as he has reached based over 70% of the time in his first 4 games. Brett Knief, highlighted here, has been a pleasant surprise, as has John Sansone (.455/.647/.909) who struggled throughout all of last year.
The Bulldogs do have some thump in their lineup in outfielder Hunter Cole and shortstop Nelson Ward who have an OPS of 1.365 and 1.271 respectively accounting for 5 of the 6 extra base hits the team has on the season. No other regular has an OPS greater than .600 while the Noles have eight everyday players. Another notable player is Buster Posey's youngest brother Jess who plays third base and showed promise in his freshman season last year.
The Seminoles rotation was great last weekend as the staff combined for 17 shutout innings fanning 15 batters and only walking four. The bullpen held strong too allowing only 3 runs in 9 relief innings, cutting down on the walks needs to be a priority.
Georgia starting pitching combined for just 10.1 innings last weekend with 2 of their starters not making it out of the 3rd inning. This pitching staff has been extremely hittable showing the inability to get a crucial out. Of the 40 runs allowed only 65% have been earned despite the Bulldogs only committing 3 errors on the season.
The Noles start off the series with one of the best pitchers in college baseball, Luke Weaver was nearly perfect last start allowing no hits and retiring 16 straight batters. Ryan Lowler was one of the few bright spots on the Dawgs pitching staff which earned him the bump from Saturday starter to Friday ace. Against GSU the lefty allowing only 3 runs across 6 innings on 5 hits.
Brandon Leibrandt started off his junior season by striking out 5 and walking only one in 6 scoreless innings where he allowed only 4 hits. Sean McLaughlin dropped to the Saturday starter after he didn't make it out of the 2nd inning against Georgia Southern allowing 4 runs on 4 hits.
One hit, two walks and three strikeouts over five shutout innings is pretty impressive for a kid who hasn't pitched in more than a year. Patrick Boling struck out the first batter of the 3rd inning in his first start but that runner reached on an error and the flood gates opened after that. He would let up 7 runs in the inning with only 1 of those being earned.
Going into the season I was content with Florida State taking 2 of 3 from Georgia but with the way these two teams are playing the Noles are clearly the better team everywhere it matters. All 3 games are on ESPN3 this weekend and Ariya will have your play-by-play in this article.