Florida State Baseball Opens ACC Play with Maryland Terrapins

Ryan Syrkus - Tomahawk Nation

The Florida State Seminoles (10-1) are ranked 2nd in the country and winners of four in a row as they host the Maryland Terrapins (8-2) in the first series of conference play.

The Seminoles has an excellent mid-week series in terms of results but they way they reached them was not all that impressive from an offensive and defensive standpoint. But when you are on the road against a quality ball club like South Florida you will take a win any way you can. The Noles scored 9 runs between two games, each game featured a 4 run inning and pretty much nothing the rest of the games. Florida State walked 7 times and struck 18 times recording only 4 extra base hits. But as lack luster as the offense was the pitching was spectacular. On Tuesday Peter Miller had a career high 11 strikeouts over 5 innings allowing only 1 run. The bullpen was excellent that game as well as the rest of the series, the staff allowed only 2 runs on 13 hits, striking out 17 and walking five. With that series sweep the Noles, like football, are dominating the state of Florida.

Maryland is playing great baseball right now albeit against weaker competition. They are on an 8 game win streak as they beat Rider, Bryant and UMASS after they lost the series against Florida but made every game competitive. Do they have what it takes to be competitive with the Noles this weekend? For some insight we ask Andrew Kramer from the Maryland SBNation site Testudo Times.

Q&A with Testudo Times

1. No player in the country has pitched better than Jake Stinnett so far this year. He was great last year but this season is ridiculous, are there any reasons or offseason work he did that can account for his performance?

I think that his velocity has ratcheted up a bit. He regularly throws in the low 90's but has touched 95 this year. There are two other reasons. One is that he has better command of all of his pitches. He's issued only three walks in 22 innings and doesn't fall behind in counts. The second reason is Maryland's fielding. It's been awesome and has prevented numerous hits. I'm looking forward to see how Jake fares against ACC teams, as previous opponents Florida, Bryant, and UMass are not known for their hitting.

2. Maryland finished with a winning record last season for the 2nd year in a row but struggled against top teams and only won 11 conference games. Is there any reason to believe that they will finish any better this season?

Yes, for three reasons. The first reason is that Virginia and Miami are not on the schedule and have been replaced by Notre Dame and Pitt. That's surprising as most Terps fans feel that the ACC schedulers have basically shafted us in other sports. (Then again the ACC didn't put Miami on FSU's regular ACC schedule so go figure.) The second reason is Maryland's defense. Batters can go into slumps and pitchers can have off days, but defense is something that is a very consistent attribute. I think that Maryland currently leads the ACC in fielding percentage, but what isn't in the stats are the great plays that have robbed opposing batters. The third reason is freshman right-hander Mike Shawaryn. Right now his ERA is 0.54. He shows great maturity on the mound, and like Stinnett he usually gets ahead of hitters, forcing them to hit his pitch.

3. I know it's early but have you put any thought into how well Maryland team will fare once they make the jump to the Big Ten?

On paper we should be at or near the top. But it's hard to figure in how travelling to Minneapolis and Lincoln will impact things. Also, most players at Maryland have played with or against other players in the ACC in summer ball. That won't necessarily be the case once we are in the B1G. Personally I'm unhappy about us leaving the ACC as it's arguably among the 2 - 3 top conferences in college baseball.

Thanks to Andrew for his answers and you can read our answer to their questions here.

OFFENSE

There is nothing offensively that Maryland does better than Florida State. The Noles are walking and striking out at the same rate which is great at this point in the season and have an OBP and slugging sixty points higher than that of the Terps. Maryland is much more aggressive on the base paths as they have attempted twice as many as the Noles with the same success. Seminoles opponents have only attempted 5 stolen bases through 11 games and been successful only twice, so for what De la Calle lacks offensively he makes up for behind the plate.

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Individually for Maryland Anthony Papio has been impressive with a .429 batting average and a .553 on base percentage. Blake Schmit has been the Terrapins leading power guy with 6 extra base hits and is also 6 for 7 in stolen bases. After a poor freshman season Florida State second baseman John Sansone has impressed so far, one of 3 hitters on the Seminoles team that currently has an OBP of .500 or better which includes 11 walks to only 6 strikeouts.

PITCHING

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Maryland pitching has been lights out this season besting Florida State in every significant category. Now they have yet to face an offense anywhere near the caliber of the Seminoles so it will be interesting to see how they hold up.

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As mentioned earlier Jake Stinnett has been the best pitcher in baseball this season. In his 22 innings pitched this season 21 of them have been scoreless, he allowed 3 runs in the 3rd inning against Florida in his first start of the season. He has had 20 hitless innings and 19 innings in which he did not issue a walk, he has been completely dominant and is coming off a complete game no hitter last weekend. That no hitter was probably not even his most impressive start on the season as the week before he threw 8 shutout innings in which he walked none, allowed a single and 11 strikeouts.

Luke Weaver has yet to dominate hitters like he did last season but is still having a good year and seems to be pitching better with every start. His most recent start was against Miami where he struck out 7 and walked 2, he did allow 6 hits but all were singles and he was on the unfortunate end of some bad defense. This should be an excellent match up as I am sure the crowd will be packed with scouts.

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The right handed freshman for Maryland was a well-respected high school prospect out of New Jersey and has lived up to that so far this season. Standing 6'4" he has an excellent strikeout to walk ratio and his fastball easily sits in the low 90's. Five to six quality innings is was Leibrandt has given the Noles every time out this season. His K:BB ratio has improved from last season and his is hits per nine is down more than a full hit.

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The Noles have the big edge on Sunday as Jared Price has not been effective this season, his strikeouts are up there but that is negated by the number of walks he allows. I've said this before and I will say it every series this season but having Mike Compton as your Sunday guy is extremely rare and he will be the best starter on that day all year.

COVERAGE

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None of the games are televised this weekend but you can catch them on Seminoles All-Access ($). Make sure to follow @dtackett_ , @AriyaMassoudi and (myself) @RodMahoney we will all be live in Tallahassee with your coverage.

At the beginning of the season I thought Florida State would have a good chance of sweeping Maryland and they very well could still do so but with how strong the Maryland pitching has been so far a series win would be sufficient.

See everyone back here at 6 PM.

Go Noles!

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