After an impressive opening weekend that saw the Seminoles outscore the Rhode Island Rams 50-6 over a three-game series, the Florida State baseball team came out flat in the series opener against the visiting College of Charleston Cougars, who redeemed their two losses to FSU in last year's Tallahassee Regional with a 2-1 win Friday night which drops the Seminoles to 3-1 on the season. After a trio of games that made it difficult to find any issues or complaints about the Seminoles' play, their first loss of the season showed that it will not all be smooth sailing and instead made the challenge finding three positive things to discuss after the defeat.
1. Mike Compton was serviceable in his second outing of the season. He went 5.2 innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on seven hits. His control was good, issuing only two walks while striking out six. The good but not great outing puts his season ERA at 1.88. Although Compton had a good outing, he was outdueled by CoC ace Nathan Helvey, who took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and finished his outing allowing two hits and three walks over his 5.1 innings, his second straight outing allowing no runs.
2. Relief pitcher Tyler Holton was dominant out of the bullpen for the second time in as many outings, throwing three innings of shutout, one-hit baseball and looking very much the part of a veteran reliever even though he was a true freshman making just his second career appearance. After Friday, Holton has thrown seven innings this season and allowed two hits and two walks while striking out eight batters, posting a 0.00 ERA and an equally-impressive 0.57 WHIP. The question with Holton is that he has now emerged as a reliable arm out of the bullpen but head coach Mike Martin has been firm for weeks that Holton will serve as a weekday starter once Florida State begins its full four or five game per week schedule. Has Martin changed his mind or is he just keeping Holton fresh and increasing his comfort level ahead of his first start?
3. After Florida State committed three errors over its three games against URI, the 'Noles were error-free over their nine innings in the series opener against the Cougars until a post-game change was made to credit an error to Matt Henderson. It hardly softens the blow as so many other things did not go right but, on another day where the offense is more productive, the ability to play with few errors could spell the difference between a win and a loss.
1. To say that Friday's offensive performance was the polar opposite of what we saw from the Seminoles in their first series of the season might still be an understatement. FSU finished the game with three total hits with no more than one by any single player. However, the Seminoles did add six walks and a hit-by-pitch that puts their total baserunners total at 10, exposing the real problem: the ability to move runners over. Florida State finished the game an awful 1-12 with runners on base, 1-6 with runners on scoring position, and 2-11 with two outs in the inning, all of which make it difficult to win games.
2. Although down offensive games are to be expected from a FSU lineup that started seven players who are in their first or second year with the team, it should be expected that the lineup veterans step up to lead the way when the younger guys are not producing. That was not the case on Friday as the most-experienced members of the lineup, senior John Sansone and junior Ben DeLuzio, were a combined 1-7 in the batter's box. Sansone scored the lone run of the game for the Seminoles after reaching base on a fielder's choice but DeLuzio finished 0-4 and left four men on base, showing unfortunate shades of his struggles in 2015. Going forward, there will be more days when the offense is down and looks to the older members of the lineup. In truth, how well those two step up could go a long way towards determining how successful the 2016 season is for Florida State.
3. It was a shame for Florida State that such a successful pitching performance from the Seminoles, especially against a team as offensively potent as College of Charleston, was squandered with a one-run, three-hit showing that left plenty to be desired. It is foolish to expect a college baseball team to win every game but this loss hurts more for the 'Noles when realizing that the pitching performance was more than good enough for the win. Chock it up to bad timing, I suppose, and move on.
Florida State returns to the diamond Saturday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 1 PM and FSU's Drew Carlton (1-0, 0.00 ERA) scheduled to duel CoC's Bailey Ober (0-0, 6.23). The game will be streamed on NolesTV and broadcast on 106.1 FM but Tomahawk Nation will be providing a play-by-play in our game thread if you are unable to watch/listen.