After just falling short of a College World Series appearance last season, Florida State Baseball begins their quest again,opening up their 2016 campaign with three games against Rhode Island. All-time under Mike Martin, the Seminoles are a perfect 6-0 against the Rams. Rhode Island was picked to finish third in the Atlantic-10 conference and have four players that were named to D1 Baseball's list of MLB Draft prospects from the conference
On the mound for the season opener will be Mike Compton, who has pitched against Rhode Island before in 2012 with success, limiting them to just two hits in his 6+ innings worked. Last season after missing some time due to injury, Compton finished the season with a career high 3.55 ERA in 71 innings worked. However, despite pitching 20 less innings than his freshman year in which he had 64 strikeouts and 28 walks, the senior had 70 punch outs and a career low 12 walks last season. More than likely, he will take on reigning A-10 Rookie of the Year, Tyler Wilson. As a freshman, Wilson had a conference leading 2.16 ERA and WHIP of 0.96.
The game two starter for the 'Noles will be Drew Carlton, who started last season in the bullpen before making 12 starts. Despite an ERA of 4.04 in the regular season, the sophomore was dominant in post season play, pitching 13 2/3 shutout innings in his two postseason starts to go along with 13 strikeouts. For the Rhode Island Rams, senior Steve Moyers looks to be the counter pitcher, who owns a career 2.65 ERA over 217 innings pitched, and has been a weekend starter each of his first three seasons on campus.
Freshman Cole Sands, a Tallahassee native, will take the mound for game three for the first time in a Seminoles uniform. The North Florida Christian graduate excelled in his senior year, posting a microscopic 0.32 ERA and 73 strikeouts while only allowing 32 hits in 66 1/3 innings pitched. He was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 22nd round of last year's draft, however has obviously chosen to take the college route. Last season's third starter for the Rams was current senior Lou Distasio, who had a 4.36 ERA in 76 1/3 innings pitched. He has a tendency to be wild, throwing 21 walks, six wild pitches and hit 22 batters last season alone. Despite Distasio's skewed numbers, URI led the A-10 in walks given up.
Offensively, Florida State's most notable addition is catcher Cal Raleigh, who D1 baseball chose to win freshman of the year. In his senior year of high school, he hit .469 with 25 RBI's and 10 home runs. Some returning faces will be outfielder Ben Deluzio who struggled at the plate last season but is an asset with his blazing speed. John Sansone, Taylor Walls and Dylan Busby will all return and play the infield, all hoping to get their season off to a good start. The 'Noles will be without junior Quincy Nieporte as he has been suspended for the first six games of the season following an offseason arrest.
The University of Rhode Island is led by sophomore infielder Chris Hess who was one of three players on the Rams roster to hit over .300 and play at least 43 games. Hess hit a team high .326 and had a OBP near .400. URI only had three starters leave from last year due to graduation, and had a team batting average of .280, although are not known for their power with a combined .390 slugging percentage and 24 home runs.
Game one will begin Friday at 4 PM EST with game two following on Saturday at 2 PM EST and game three finishing the season opening series on Sunday at 1 PM EST. All three games with be broadcast on NolesTV and if you are not a subscriber we will have you covered with a play by play game thread.