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Florida State Seminoles Baseball Travels to take on Duke Blue Devils

The 6th ranked ‘Noles had a week of highs and lows that resulted them in winning against rival UF on Tuesday only to drop Wednesday's game against Jacksonville.  Tuesday's game against the Gators featured Scott Sitz pitching effectively allowing only 1 earned run in 6 innings.  Three shutout innings from the bullpen and FSU wins 3-2 and takes the season series 3-1.  Wednesday saw another strong outing from a Seminole's pitcher as Hunter Scantling pitching 7 strong innings exiting the game with a 4-2 lead.  In an effort to preserve his bullpen stars for the weekend ACC matchup Mike Martin allowed some of the younger and inexperienced guys to pitch in a relief, they surrendered 8 runs in the final 2 innings resulting in a 10-8 loss.  This game was relatively meaningless and allowing some kids to get much needed innings is fine so I have no concerns about the choices Martin made.  While the offenses of UF and JU are average at best it is good to see quality starts from non weekend guys and should provide some hope that FSU can somehow find a rotation that is competitive come tournament time.

Looking towards this weekend Florida State travels to Duke in an effort to gain 1st place in the division.  This isn't the same Duke team of years past though as Clemson found out last weekend losing 2 of 3 games.  Although their pitching remains pretty terrible and ranks near the bottom of the conference in every statistic their hitting has surprisingly improved despite the loss of 3 of their top hitters, all who were drafted in the top 20 rounds of last year's amateur draft. 

Inside we will preview the pitching and see how offenses match up.

We are now half way through the 2010 ACC season and have a large enough sample size where this year’s states become a more useful tool.

Pitching Preview:

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Note: FSU actually miscalculates their ERA, ACC ERA is at 5.04 but still ranks 5th in the conference.

As you can see Duke pitching staff is worse than it was last year but I will have to cut them some slack when you consider they have already faced very potent offenses in GT, Miami and Clemson.  Despite improvements in the bullpen FSU continues to be middle of the pack in the ACC with regards to pitching and unless coaching changes are made I would never expect this to change.

Friday April 16th - 6 PM - Cary, NC - Radio: 1270 the Team/94.3 FM - GameTracker

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Game 1 features ‘Noles ace Sean Gilmartin against lefty senior Chris Manno.  Gilmartin has had his ups and downs in ACC play pitching well against poor offensive teams and struggling  with stronger ones.  Duke's lineup is similar to that of VT with a little less pop so let's hope that Sean can have a better showing that that against the Hokies.  As much as this will upset some Nole fans the FSU lineup needs to be patient against Manno, his K:BB ratio is terrible and needs to be taken advantage of.  A walk is as good as a single and the more base runners the better chance of scoring.

Saturday April 17th - 2 PM - Cary, NC - Radio: 100.7 FM - GameTracker

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Geoff Parker out Brian Busch in.  Busch will make his first start of the season, the key to his success will be to limit walks, Busch is a fly ball pitcher and with that comes extra base hits so the less men on base the better.  O'Grady a right handed junior does a good job of limiting walks but it appears that in doing so he leaves the ball out over the plate and as you can see is taken advantage of to the tune of 11+ hits per nine.

Sunday April 18th- 1 PM - Cary, NC - Radio: 100.7 FM - GameTracker

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John Gast gets the nod for Sunday despite having a terrible 2010 campaign.  There really is nothing good to say about the way he has pitched this season and there really is nothing to hint at anything changing moving forward.  The best thing to hope for is that the bullpen isn't too taxed from Games 1 and 2 and can come in and pitch on Sunday.  Duke's Chase Bebout made his first ACC start last Sunday against a Clemson lineup that is better than Florida State's and was able to pitch well despite allowing 5 walks in which the Tigers were not able to take advantage of. 

Offensive Preview:

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The Blue Devils offense has improved in almost every category which given the circumstances is impressive.  As mentioned earlier the Dukies lost 3 of their top hitters from a year ago and they have faced some of the best pitching the ACC has to offer in Miami and Georgia Tech.  There is a good possibility that this team could score some runs against a starting staff that has struggled so far this year.  

The Seminoles offense in 2010 has not performed as expected especially compared to 2009's numbers. One of the main reasons for this is some of last year's players are not putting up the stats they did a year ago, one of those players who is, Tyler Holt.  Reading and hearing that Holt needs to pick up his game is ludicrous, he is having an amazing season thus far as the below stats will show.

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The one stat that should jump of the screen in Holt's power numbers.  His slugging percentage climbed over .300 points and in doing so he has still been able to maintain an acceptable BB/K ratio. I wrote the other day I was unsure if any player from this team would be drafted high enough to tempt them to leave and after looking deeper in to the stats I might be changing my tune.  Let's take a look at a recent FSU outfielder that was drafted only a few years ago.

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Shane Robinson was the 2005 Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year and as you can see put up some ridiculous numbers.  Robinson was a 5'9 160lb outfielder drafted in the 5th round, Holt is 6'0 190lb and is starting to develop power while still maintaining a high on base percentage.  If Holt continues to produce like he does I could see him being drafted in a round that would really make it difficult for him to return in 2011.

As for the offense this weekend they should be able to take advantage of a poor pitching staff in similar fashion to the Wake Forest series.  The only know in the lineup is Holt in the leadoff position (sigh), predicting what happens after that is impossible, it seems at times that Martin has a monkey throwing names at a dart board.  Expecting a sweep this week would be foolish, if FSU wins 2 of 3 that might be good enough to land them in 1st place after the weekend because Clemson takes on a slugging Georgia Tech team.

Go Noles!