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Noles Drop Two Against Hokies

Florida State lost their first ACC series falling twice in their trip to Blacksburg, Va.

Ryan Syrkus

In only their fourth ACC series of the year, Florida State accomplished something which they did not do last year until their second-to-last ACC series last year at Clemson. For the first time since May of last season, the Seminoles lost an ACC regular season series. This was also the first time since the 2011 season that Florida State (24-4, 8-4) has lost a season series to Virginia Tech (20-9, 7-5).

Importance of the Series

It was only a matter of time before FSU dropped a conference series, but it wasn’t foreseen they would drop this one in the way they did. Florida State was playing in cold weather and on the road for only the third time this season. Losing two of three against the Hokies now brings Clemson (16-10, 5-5) a little bit closer to the top of the Atlantic Division while Virginia Tech remains in the hunt for the Coastal Division, although they are still sitting fourth behind North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia Tech.

Judging from the pitching performance and the defense this series, it would be a surprise if Mike Martin doesn’t try to make a few changes for the upcoming games this week.

What to take Away from the Series

First off, Virginia Tech is much better than they appear on paper. A quick look at this series just solidifies VT as one of the better teams in the ACC. The Hokies held on for a win in game one, came back and almost took game two, and simply dominated the series finale.

Once again FSU has some question marks around the team. The starting rotation seems to be the biggest issue followed closely by their defense. The Seminoles have had season ending injuries to some key players, but no one saw such a drop in production coming when those injuries were announced.

Here is how each individual game broke down

Game 1
FSU 2 VT 3

It was a typical game of baseball where one team seems to be getting outplayed, yet still comes away with a win. Brandon Leibrandt was better than he has been in recent starts, yet still gave up five walks and five hits through four innings. Virginia Tech’s starter Brad Markey was getting all the breaks as his defense turned four double plays. VT was outhit by FSU 11-6, but still came away with the 3-2 win.

The Hokies got on board in the 3rd and 4th innings, scoring all three runs off Leibrandt. It began with an RBI single and continued the next inning when more runs came in off a double and a single. Going into the 6th inning, VT held a 3-0 lead and would hold on for the win.

As already mentioned, the Hokies turned a surprising amount of double plays which killed the Seminoles and their chances to take a lead. FSU grounded into a double play in the 4th, 5th and 7th innings while Casey Smit lined into a double play in the 9th inning to end the game. The Noles stranded five on base throughout the game.

MVP of the Game

DJ Stewart – Although the real MVP of the game should be the Virginia Tech’s infield, Stewart brought in the only runs for FSU. Stewart finished 2-4 with a 2-run homerun in the 6th.

Things to Work On

It may have been bad luck. It may have been great pitching. Either way, FSU had a chance to win the game but kept dropping their chances to pull ahead. The double plays were the main reason the Seminoles dropped game one of the series.

Game 2

FSU 11 VT 10

What started off as a blowout quickly turned into a fight for survival.

The Seminoles took advantage of two Hokie errors in the first to climb out to a 5-0 lead before Virginia Tech even saw a pitch. All five runs in the first were unearned as FSU brought them in off a fielder’s choice and two singles. The Noles only got three hits and left the bases loaded, but capitalized on the errors from VT. Once again in the second, FSU took advantage of Hokie pitching, scoring three more runs with the last one coming off VT’s third error of the game.

Entering the 4th inning, FSU held an 8-1 lead but quickly saw it vanish off errors from Jose Brizuela, Scott Sitz, and Bryant Holtmann. Virginia Tech scored seven in the 4th to tie the game at eight. Sitz gave up five hits in the inning before being pulled for Holtmann who then had a fielding error causing two of the seven runs to come in for VT. Sitz lasted 3.2 innings and gave up seven hit and eight runs, but only one run was earned..

Florida State would take the lead once again after getting a run back in the following inning off a bases loaded walk. Two more would come across for FSU in the 7th, this time off a wild pitch and a single.

VT only trailed by two entering the bottom half of the 9th. The Hokies would get one in form an RBI single. With men at first and third and one out, Virginia Tech would strike out and groundout to end the game, giving FSU the 11-10 win in the first game of a doubleheader.

MVP of the Game

Stephen McGee – In an error filled shootout, McGee’s bat was the difference between a win and a lose for FSU. McGee finished 2-4, driving in three runs and scoring once.

Things to Work On

Errors. Way too many errors were committed this game. Errors were the reason the game was as close as the final score shows. Of the 10 runs Virginia Tech scored, only three of them were earned.

Game 3
FSU 1 VT 8

In the nightcap of the Saturday doubleheader, FSU once again gave the Hokies multiple chances to get runs. Unlike the previous game, the Seminoles could not reproduce the offensive power and VT ran away with the 8-1 win.

Starting pitcher for FSU, Peter Miller, lasted 3.1 innings giving up six hits and four runs with one of those runs unearned. All four of the Hokie runs came in the 4th inning. Jose Brizuela committed his 13th error of the season which allowed the first of four runs to come in for VT.

Again in the 7th, the Hokies would score four more runs ad make an insurmountable lead over the Seminoles. This time, it was relief pitcher Kyle Bird at the receiving end of a VT beat down. Bird would only get one out, but be charged with three hits and four runs.

When all was said and done, Virginia Tech would go on to take the series which was also the first time in five attempts the Hokies won a three game series against FSU in Blacksburg, Va.

MVP of the Game

Brandon Johnson – Not much can be said for the Seminoles this game, but Johnson kept the game close for FSU after coming in to replace Peter Miller. Johnson went 2.2 hitless innings and struck out two for the Garnet and Gold.

Things to Work On

Starting pitching was an issue for most of the three games, but more shocking was committing three errors in each game of a doubleheader. Although the errors did not factor in as much this game as they did in the last one, it is still a problem which has plagued the Seminoles since opening day.

Looking Ahead

Florida State will need to forget about the trip to Virginia Tech as they face one of their tougher midweek opponents in Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles have already swept then No. 13 Florida in Gainesville and look to duplicate that success against another in-state powerhouse. FGCU also holds wins over St. John’s, USF, and Michigan while dropping a close one to Notre Dame (6-5 in 10 innings).

FGCU is currently 18-6 overall and 4-2 in the Atlantic Sun. The Eagles are also 6-2 on the road.

Florida State is 4-1 all-time against Florida Gulf Coast with the only loss coming last year in the Eagles 5-1 win in Tallahassee.

The two game series begins Tuesday at 6 p.m.