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Florida State Seminoles vs. UCLA Bruins: Elimination Game Preview

"I'm very, very proud of the way our guys got it done," FSU head baseball coach Mike Martin said. "We had a number of key things that happened during the ballgame. But certainly it all starts with the man on the mound, and Michael did an outstanding job. Six innings of, I believe, six-hit baseball against a club as talented as Stony Brook, we were very, very impressed."

Compton rebounded from a tough start against Stanford and did exactly what he needed to do with a big lead, throw strikes. He allowed Stony Brook to put the ball in play and let his defense carry him.

"Certainly something that I was not expecting," Martin said of the six-run third inning. "It certainly was a great lift for our team. And if I'm not mistaken, we got them all with two outs, and that's something that you just credit the young men for having great at-bats and getting it done."

ESPN analyst Kyle Peterson alluded to this fact in the interview he did where he said what makes Florida State so dangerous is their ability to but up big innings while other teams play for just one run. This disciplined plate approach that allows this will be discussed later in the preview.

Inside a full break down if both teams.



"I think they play hard. They don't strike out a ton of guys, but I think their outfield cuts out a lot of hits. So I think the total package, of teams that we've seen, they're as good as any out there, total package. There might be a little bit better offense, a little better starting rotation, a little bit better bullpen. But you're not going to see too many that have all three like they have right now."

Much like Florida State, UCLA had little trouble with the Stony Brook pitching staff as they dismissed their starter after only 2.1 innings en route to a 9-1 beating where they had 9 hits and worked 8 total walks. Also like Florida State they struggled with Arizona pitching as they Wildcats normal Saturday starter shut down the Bruins' offense in a complete game shutout. Konner Wade for the Wildcats faced only 4 batters over the minimum and issued no walks while allowing only 5 singles. Much like the Arizona offense that Florida State faced on Friday this lineup isn't one to overpower you, they play in a very big ballpark as well and are able to hit the ball to all fields.


"I think losing (second baseman Kevin) Williams was a little bit of a blow to them, but they just kept moving on. Obviously Gelalich has had a big year. Amaral is a really, really good player, and he kind of is the catalyst. The guy that gets overlooked a little bit is Keefer. He can really really play left field. Amaral can really play center, and those three kids can cover a lot of ground out there, so they take a lot of hits away. They're solid in the infield. Heineman may be the most improved player in our league, going from hardly ever playing to being an eighth-rounder. He's kind of the captain of the infield. He takes charge out there, takes charge of the pitchers, makes sure they're on the same page. Then you've got Trevor Brown, who might be the most valuable player on that team overall-he leads them in RBIs, he can play every position on the field. He started out the year at first base, then goes to second when Williams gets hurt, and when Heineman was out for a weekend, he catches every game and they don't miss a beat. He's tough after all those lefthanders, then you've got him and he can be dangerous.

"Gelalich absolutely can put a real charge into the ball. I think the key to him is you've got to be able to get in on him. He wants to get extended, he has pop, obviously. I think there will be times he sits on pitches, but good fastballs can get in on him, and you've got to hit your spots. Change the way you pitch him a little bit. But he can put a juice into a ball, and if you make a mistake, he can really make you pay. And he gets out of the box so well that if he hits a line drive into left-center, it can be a double.

The Bruins had four players drafted within the first ten rounds of the draft the most notable was RF Jeff Gelalich to the Reds in the supplemental 1st round. Beau Amaral and Tyler Heineman went to the Reds and Astros respectively in the 7th and 8th rounds. Junior Cody Keefer went in the 15th round to the Miami Marlins. This season's MLB Draft marked just the second time in the draft's 48-year history in which UCLA had seven or more draft picks.

Gelalich is the most dangerous threat in the lineup and is their cleanup hitter. He boasts a stout 1.016 OPS and has hit 11 of the Bruins' 23 homeruns this season. He and Beau Amaral are UCLA's biggest threat on the base paths too and I use the term "threat" lightly as they are a combined 29 for 40. Since I'm sure everyone is dying to know, yes the Bruins do like to sacrifice bunt, and they have 63 successful attempts this season, compared to only 24 by the Noles with Tyler Heineman accounting for 17 on his own.


"They have a system. If you talk to pro guys in the fall when they see Florida State, they say, 'They're not going to be very good this year,' and every year they win 50 games. That's the way they coach, and the kids buy into the system. It's a typical Florida State team: some decent talent, a good college player in Ramsey, but it's not like they're Stanford or Florida, having seven guys go off the board in the top five rounds. But that's a credit to their coaching staff."

Despite what many ill-informed fans might think the Noles do not and should not change their approach at the plate. Florida State has adopted a disciplined approach at the plate that has been highly successful at the collegiate and MLB level. This was most evident Sunday evening in the first inning when Stony Brook players were swinging at pitches out of the zone, their inexperience and lack of plate discipline continued to worsen as their deficit grew larger and larger. In the game versus Arizona when Florida State was losing late in the game it was quite evident that Noles were not going to stretch their strike zone and despite not taking advantage of all their opportunities they were able to create quite a few of them. Seminole fans should be encouraged and should appreciate the great discipline it takes to have an offense like this, it is a credit to the coaches and the players.


"They're a solid club that plays with a lot of swagger, and that comes from playing in that program and that coaching staff, and James Ramsey. He's an unbelievable person and leader, they all look up to him. He plays the game the right way, and they just feed off it. Ramsey's a plus defender in the outfield, probably an average thrower. He has unbelievable hand-eye coordination, he can get fooled but still gets the barrel on the ball. The one thing that will shock you is the dude can really fly. I got him a couple times 3.97 (seconds down the line to first base) on swings. The way his swing is, if he hits the ball on the ground, he's always kind of jail-breaking, but that's the way he swings all the time. As soon as you hang him a breaking ball, he hits the ball over that green monster down there at Florida State. He's just a tremendous player, and obviously he made the right decision to come back to school.

"Sherman Johnson is what they need for leadoff, a patient guy, will take a strike, try to get on. Travis is good, I think you can beat him with a fastball-he has a little bit of slider bat speed, but if he runs into one he can hit it into the gap. Gonzalez has some juice, he's scary because he hits in the bottom of the order and he can jump up on you. Boyd's power is to the opposite field, he's got those long arms and the leverage, he'll go the other way. You've got to get in there, because he wants to get extended. He wants you to throw him a breaking ball or a fastball away. He doesn't want any part of the ball in.

"McGee is solid, he's a solid player, but a below-average thrower. Their pitchers do a great job of controlling the running game, but if you can run and not get picked off, you can steal bags all day. If they match up with a team that can really run and get guys on, he's going to get exposed. I really like Delph; I think he's really going to hit over his career. He's an average player otherwise but I think he'll hit. Brizuela has some athleticism and spark to him; I think he'll be good too.

The Noles had a few players drafted as well most notably was James Ramsey in the first round to the Cardinals and Jayce Boyd to the Mets in the sixth. Devon Travis, Sherman Johnson and Justin Gonzalez were taken in the 13th round or later. There might not be a better lineup 1-4 in the country but after that is where the Noles might be vulnerable. The top three hitters in the lineup are currently 11-28 (.392) with 7 runs and 7 RBI in the first two games of the CWS and hopefully Jayce Boyd's hitless streak in the four hole comes to an end tonight.



Unlike years past the Bruins are not built on stellar pitching as their staff is extremely young. Their four main starters are underclassmen and Scott Griggs is the only upperclassman to have thrown more than 20 innings out of the pen. The Noles are also young with their Friday and Saturday starters being freshman but unlike the Bruins the young pitchers in the pen will more than likely not see innings unless the situation gets desperate.

And that's where the (freshman lefty Grant) Watson kid really comes into play. Because they're not really lefthanded out of the bullpen, he's really their one lefty. And they've ridden him hard because they've won all those Tuesday games with him starting. They're really a seven-man staff, those three weekend guys, Watson, (freshman righty David) Berg, (righty Ryan) Deeter and Griggs. If they have a bigger lead, maybe they'll throw in another guy or two, but it's the same cast that pitches every game.

"I think the two keys for them this year have been the two freshmen: Watson on Tuesdays and Berg throwing every single game. The guy (Berg) has just been an absolute machine. There's good movement, he's fearless, he attacks the strike zone, it's from a tough (sidearm) slot that not a lot of guys see, he can throw the fastball right and left and has a nice breaking ball. He's been invaluable. Deeter's done a great job as the eighth-inning guy. John's done a nice job having those established roles in the seventh, eighth, ninth. Griggs is like the cardiac closer: It may not always be pretty, but the job's getting done. He walks a lot of guys but he strikes out a ton. And he doesn't give up any hits. The breaking ball is his best pitch and it's the pitch he probably has the most command of. There are times you'll see 3-2 curveballs because it's the pitch they think is going to be a strike. It makes it tough on a hitter, because the stuff is so good, but you don't know when it's going to be in the zone. Deeter's got a good arm too, probably up to 94, pitches in that 90-92 range, has a change and a breaking ball. He's another guy that attacks the zone, has a boring two-seamer into righthanders. I think all three of those kids have done a nice job of shortening the game.

Griggs was drafted in the 8th round by the Dodgers while Eric Jaffe went in the 11th round to the White Sox. All of the above relievers should be well rested and available for tonight as Grant Watson threw only one pitch on Sunday night and David Berg threw twelve pitches over 1.1 innings. Berg is an absolute work horse for the Bruins making 49 appearance so far this season none as a starter for a total of 71.2 innings. For reference Gage Smith and Hunter Scantling made 38 and 30 appearances respectively.

"After that, the other guys are just average until you get to Benincasa. I think he's really, really good. He's 89-92 with a plus breaking ball, and he can throw the breaking ball anytime he wants for a strike, and command of the breaking ball is really, really good. Gage Smith, the sidearmer, is good against righties. (Lefthander Brian) Busch and (righty Hunter) Scantling are serviceable. The one thing they do, and they've always done it at FSU, their guys out of the bullpen can throw strikes with the slider anytime they want. They'll bring Scanting in and it's slider, slider, slider, slider. Then Busch will come in and throw fastballs from a sidearm angle, and throw the breaking ball over the top. They're serviceable, not great, but got enough combinations.

Closer Robert Benincasa and his phenomenal 56:7 strikeout to walk ratio were drafted in the 7th round while Hunter Scantling went in the 14th to the Tigers. Florida State's best relievers Gage Smith and Robert Benincasa were extended in the first game versus Arizona but fortunately for the Noles they were able to rest Sunday evening as Compton went six strong and the lead was large enough where some of the less experience pitchers could get some work in.


"Then you've got Weiss, he's been kind of up and down. I think he walks more guys. He's got to really be on to get it going; I think they have a little bit shorter leash with him.

There is nothing about righty Zach Weiss that stands out, he allows a high number of hits, doesn't really strike anyone out and walks way too many batters. He hasn't made an appearance since he started a regional game versus Creighton on June 3rd where he allowed 7 hits through 5 innings, walking 3 with 3 wild pitches and 1 hit batsman. Making it through the Seminoles' lineup twice would be quite the accomplishment for him.

Scott Sitz, he's OK. He's kind of like Compton: 87-90 with a decent feel for his breaking ball, but his job is to throw strikes, get it to the sixth inning and turn it over to the bullpen. It's nothing special or overpowering, just fill up the zone with a three-pitch mix.

Junior righty Scott Sitz has also struggled as a starter as he has failed to make it into the fifth inning in his last three starts and has only pitched six plus innings in two of his starts all season. Like Weiss it has been some time since he pitched, in regional play he faced UAB where he struck out 8 hitters but only lasted 4.1 innings as he allowed 6 hits and 2 walks. At this point the Noles should be very happy if he can give them anything more than four innings.



Loser of this game is going home while the winner has to beat Arizona twice in a row starting Thursday.



Despite being uncomfortably hot and extremely windy doesn't seem like there will be any delays. Winds will more than likely be blowing in from right field.


Both teams looked unbeatable against Stony Brook while both teams struggled with an excellent Arizona squad. The Florida State offense might be slightly better than UCLA's while both starting and relief pitching are equal in my opinion.

See you back at 8PM to see if the Seminoles can continue this fantastic season.

Go Noles!