No. 9 Florida State (35-9, 16-8) came away with a sweep over Wake Forest (24-23, 7-17) in Tallahassee and remained at the top of the Atlantic Division in the ACC. With each win coming in a variety of ways, strong pitching, great offense, and being able to hold off a rally, the Noles gained three important victories in conference play.
Importance of the Series
Considering how close the Atlantic Division is in the ACC, every conference game matters from here on out. With Florida State, NC State, and Clemson all within reach of each other, conference seeding is starting to shape of for the ACC Tournament in Durham, N.C.
The sweep over Wake Forest keeps FSU at the top of the standings with only two more ACC series remaining. These last six conference games at NC State (May 11-13) and home against Clemson (May 16-18) will determine who is crowned the Atlantic Division champion and get the better see in the ACC Tournament which is set to begin May 22.
What to Take Away from the Series
Florida State looked dominant in parts of each game, yet still struggled at times. Wake Forest one of the bottom feeders in the ACC this year (only Boston College has a worse record both overall and in conference play), yet the Demon Deacons almost pulled away with a win Saturday night as they fought back, eventually losing 8-6.
Errors have come back once again for FSU as they committed five in the series, three of which came from Jose Brizuela with the other two from John Sansone and Giovanny Alfonzo.
Even with the hiccups in the series, the team as a whole remains focused as they try to wrap up the Atlantic Division and a possible National Seed for the NCAA Tournament. A top seed and the chance to host a Super Regional is ideal for the Seminoles as they are currently 27-2 at home and 7-7 on the road.
Here is how each individual game broke down
FSU 7 WF 3
Slowly but surely the Seminoles pulled away from the Demon Deacons in this one to come away with the 7-3 win. Although FSU did not have a “big inning,” they still added a few runs here and there to eventually come to a 7-0 lead. However, Wake Forest refused to go easy as they scored three in the last frame.
Luke Weaver was great as he only allowed three hits and three walks while striking out nine. Eight of Weaver’s career tying nine strikeouts came in the first four innings. The seven innings pitched was more than enough to hand the game over to Gage Smith and Brandon Johnson to close out the final two innings.
Marcus Davis was the main man offensively as he finished 2-3 with one walk. Davis had three RBIs coming off a groundout in the first, a double in the sixth, and a single in the seventh.
MVP of the Game
Luke Weaver – Seven solid innings filled with nine strikeouts was more than enough to beat Wake Forest in the opening game of the series. Weaver allowed three hits and three walks, all on 104 pitches. Weaver now sits at 5-1 on the season.
Things to Work On
Brandon Johnson struggled in the final frame as he allowed three runs on three hits and walked two. Some of the runs were due in large part to great base running from Wake Forest and advancing men into scoring position. Although it wasn’t the best outing for Johnson, he was still able to close the game out and strand two runners on base.
FSU 8 WF 6
On a night where FSU was honoring the US military and wearing special uniforms, the team was able to hang on for an 8-6 win over Wake Forest.
Leading by as much as 8-2, Florida State was in control for most of the game.
Brandon Leibrandt struggle early as Wake scored two in the first inning and left six stranding in the following four innings. Even with the minor struggles, Leibrandt was still able to work five innings, striking out seven. He gave up two runs on five hits and three walks en route to his sixth victory of the season.
Toward the end of the game, Florida State began to struggle, giving up four runs in the last two innings. After a great first inning of relief, Gage Smith started to fall apart, giving up two runs in the eight. Smith would finish with five strikeouts while giving up the two runs on two hits.
Robby Coles would not fair much better as he gave up three hits and two runs in the ninth inning.
Offensively, Florida State’s John Sansone had the big hit as his single in the fifth broke the game open, giving FSU an 8-2 lead. Assisted by a Deacon error, the single brought in two runs for the Seminoles.
MVP of the Game
John Sansone – It was Sansone’s single in the fifth which broke the game open for Florida State. The hit to left field brought in two runs and Sansone advanced to second on the throwing error. One of the two runs was unearned, but Sansone’s hit made it 8-2 and the Seminoles would eventually hold on for the win.
Things to Work On
Although it wasn’t anything to be overly concerned about, the FSU pitching staff seemed to struggle during the game. Brandon Leibrandt, Gage Smith, Billy Strode, and Robby Coles were able to get the job done and prevent and real threat until the end of the game, but it took a good amount of pitches to finish off Wake. Leibrandt eventually settled down and struck out seven and Smith had a phenomenal inning in the sixth. Once again, it did not seem to be anything to raise a red flag over, but it was not the smoothest pitching performance for the Seminoles.
FSU 11 WF 2
It seemed like it was going to be a close, low scoring game judging from how the first three innings blew by. All those assumptions went out the window starting in the fourth as the Noles throttled the Deacs 11-2 t complete the three game sweep.
The Seminoles had just about everything going for them this game. Scott Sitz was brilliant. The offense took advantage of Wake’s wild pitches and errors. As a whole, it did not seem like FSU would relinquish the lead once they pulled ahead 3-0 in the fourth.
Still, the first three innings were rough for FSU. Wake Forest starter Austin Stadler faced the minimum of nine batters in the first three innings. Of those nine, two reached base and were quickly caught stealing or picked off. Five of the first nine batters Stadler faced struck out.
Sitz lasted seven shutout innings, only giving up four hits and one walk while striking out eight. At one point Sitz retired 14 consecutive batters on his way to improving to 8-1 on the year and lowering his ERA to a team best 1.42.
At the plate, Marcus Davis and Jose Brizuela paced the way for the Florida State victory as Davis finished 3-4 with four RBI and Brizuela finished 2-4 with three RBI. Brizuela’s two-RBI single up the middle in the fourth helped break the game open for the Noles and bring it to 3-0.
Stephen McGee would add to that lead bringing in a run off his first career triple in the fifth inning.
Already up by five, FSU would make sure there was no chance of a WF comeback as they platted an additional five in the seventh inning, bringing the score to 10-0.
MVP of the Game
Scott Sitz – In what was shaping up to be a pitchers duel early, Scott Sitz was going pitch for pitch with Wake’s Austin Stadler. Sitz would eventually get tremendous help from the offense and still continue his dominance on the mound. Seven innings later, Sitz would call it a day, finishing with eight strikeouts while only giving up four hits and a walk.
Things to Work On
There was not much to talk about for this game until the final frame came around. With two outs in the 9th, Jameis Winston was on the mound looking to finish the blowout and complete the sweep of Wake Forest. Back-to-back errors from Jose Brizuela extended the game and allowed Wake Forest to score their second run of the game. Although the run was essentially meaningless, back-to-back errors are never good, let alone when you’re trying to get the final out of the game. With two more in this game, Brizuela is now sitting at 16 errors on the season.
Florida State will skip their usual mid-week game due to exams in Tallahassee. They face Central Florida (25-19) in a three game series starting Friday. UCF has become one of the more consistent programs in the state of Florida. The Knights made the NCAA tournament the past two years and aim to do the same this season.
Central Florida still has a game against Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday prior to facing the Seminoles. You can expect a small handful of players missing from FSU’s lineup Friday and Saturday due to graduation ceremonies. However, it should not affect the team that much since only Juston Gonzalez, Seth Miller, and Scott Sitz are seniors.