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FSU baseball series preview: Georgia Tech

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Florida State will face its stiffest test of the 2016 season so far when the Yellow Jackets come to Tallahassee.

John Sansone
John Sansone
Jay Chantlos

Just two days after throwing the first no-hitter in the last twenty years at Florida State, the Seminoles kick off ACC play this weekend, welcoming the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who are ranked in five of the six national polls and ranked as high as No. 9 nationally . All time, FSU is 70-45 against GT but the Ramblin' Wreck took the most recent series over the Seminoles two games to one in Atlanta during the 2014 season.

Florida State may hold the all-time lead over Georgia Tech but the Jackets are off to a scorching start to their 2016 campaign. Entering this weekend, they hold a 12-0 record and sit atop the ACC Coastal Division with no conference games having been played yet. Although 12-0, regardless of who the team has played, is fairly impressive, it must be taken with a grain of salt when looking at the GT schedule and realizing that their wins have come over the likes of Western Carolina, UMBC, Georgia State, Western Michigan, and, most recently as well as most impressively, a 4-1 win at Auburn. While GT's 12-0 record reigns over the Seminoles' 10-3 mark, this weekend's series will surely be the toughest challenge that the Jackets have encountered so far this year.

Exactly how has Georgia Tech started off its season with 12 straight wins? One word: pitching. The Yellow Jackets' team earned run average currently sits at 1.72, the eighth-best team ERA in the country. They also sport an equally impressive 1.20 WHIP (39th in the NCAA). Another contributing factor to the Jackets' pitching success has been their proclivity for turning double plays. At this point in the season, Georgia Tech has turned 24 double plays, an average of two per game, leading the nation in both categories. For comparison's sake, Florida State has turned 10 less double plays despite having played one more game.

In the field, GT has a top-100 fielding percentage (0.972, 81st in the NCAA) and offensively, the Jackets are no slouch either. Through 12 games, Georgia Tech has a team batting average of .321, 23rd in the nation, which is coincidentally the same team average that the Seminoles currently sport. Despite the identical team batting averages, each of the opposing teams have their offensive aspects where they will see more success. Georgia Tech has emerged as a better power-hitting team than Florida State in the early portion of the season, with ten team homers to the Seminoles' six, but FSU looks to be the faster team on the bases, having stolen 20 bases through 13 games while the Jackets only have swiped 10.

In their attempt to end GT's season-opening win streak, the Seminoles will look to see continued production from senior third baseman John Sansone, who ranks among the top 100 players nationally in batting average (.431), hits (22), on-base percentage (.540), runs (17), and RBIs (20).

Friday's pitching matchup will put FSU's Mike Compton (2-1, 2.16) against GT's Brandon Gold (1-0, 2.00). On Saturday, Drew Carlton (3-0, 1.50) will take the mound for the Seminoles and will battle an undetermined starter for Yellow Jackets. Sunday, Florida State's Cole Sands (2-1, 1.84) will face off against Georgia Tech's Jonathan Hughes (3-0, 0.50), a second-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft who chose to play for Georgia Tech over his selection by the Baltimore Orioles.

First pitch for Friday and Saturday's games is scheduled for 6 PM and Sunday's first pitch is slated for 1 PM. Television coverage for all three games will be provided for free on ESPN3 for the first time this season and, as always, the radio broadcast will be available on 106.1 FM in Tallahassee as well as online at Seminoles.com. If you are unable to watch or listen to any of the games, Tomahawk Nation will be in attendance all weekend long, providing play-by-play game threads.