Saturday's game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets was truly a tale of two halves. It's an odd comparison for baseball, yes, but it holds some truth to it. GT got out to a 5-0 lead that they held entering the bottom of the fifth inning, the exact halfway point of a baseball game. From there, the Florida State bats erupted for 14 runs over the next four innings on their way to a 14-9 win over the Jackets, clinching the series win over a team that was 12-0 before their trip to Tallahassee. Here's the three up, three down from the Seminole's slugfest win:
1. Despite scoring 11 runs, a good bit of Saturday's showdown was not a particularly potent offensive performance for the Seminoles. Through three innings, FSU was being no hit by GT's talented starter, Zac Ryan, who was making his first appearance of the season. However, Georgia Tech's manager made the questionable decision to pull his starter after the fourth inning and it backfired in a big way. The 'Noles plated six runs on four hits in that pivotal fifth frame and never trailed the rest of the way. Six of their first nine runs were unearned as GT committed four errors in the game and the Seminoles were able to take advantage of defensive mistakes by Georgia Tech for the second straight night, something that they have proved unable to do in stretches earlier this season.
2. Freshman Chase Haney has emerged as one of Mike Martin's go-to relievers. Saturday was no different as Haney entered the game facing a 5-0 deficit that he was handed by starting pitcher Drew Carlton. Over the next 3.2 innings, Haney allowed only three baserunners, one by hit, one by walk, and one by hit-by-pitch. He kept the Jackets off of the board and it paid off as he left the game with a 9-5 lead, earning his second win of the season out of the bullpen. On the year, Haney has gone nine innings and allowed two unearned runs on three hits with 14 strikeouts. Given, he could stand to work on his control a bit as he has surrendered eight walks but still, there's a lot to like about the freshman.
3. After the slow offensive start and taking advantage of defensive mistakes, the Seminole bats did explode in the later innings of the comeback win. Holding a 9-5 lead entering the bottom of the 8th, FSU stepped on the gas pedal further with an inning that saw the 'Noles add five more runs, all earned, to cement the victory. One undeniable bright spot of the Florida State hitting was the balance throughout the lineup. Nine different 'Noles had at least one hit, including six of the nine starters, seven different players knocked in at least one run, and nine FSU batters scored at least one run.
1. Drew Carlton, who entered Saturday with impressive starts in each of his three appearances this season, did not have his stuff against the Yellow Jackets. He allowed a leadoff double to start the game and never was able to fully acclimate to the game. He lasted only 3.1 innings and allowed five runs, all earned, on 10 hits, with four of those coming in the form of doubles. Almost everything he allowed off the bat was hard hit and his 10 allowed hits could have been even worse as multiple GT batters flew out to the deep outfield. Carlton had a 1.50 ERA before his unimpressive outing against the Ramblin' Wreck and after those 3.1 innings, it had more than doubled to 3.37.
2. The Florida State error machine reared its ugly head once again on Saturday. The 'Noles finished with three errors, two of which occurred in key situations. In the first inning, FSU second baseman Matt Henderson bungled an easy grounder that very well could have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, his error, #6 of the year for him, allowed a third GT run to score in the first inning. The second error was the result of Taylor Walls failing to pick up a grounder to short that could have been the final out of the frame. Instead, his error, the third he has committed this week, loaded the bases up. The next batter grounded out to the pitcher so no damage came as a result of the error. However, on another day, a simple mistake such as that could prove fatal.
3. Over the middle seven innings, Florida State outscored the Jackets 14-2. However, the first and ninth innings left plenty to be desired for the Seminoles. In the first inning, GT scored three runs on four hits to stake themselves to a lead that it held until the fifth inning. In the ninth, with the game already well in hand, Florida State freshman pitcher Ronnie Ramirez gave up four runs, three earned, on four hits to make the game a bit more interesting before Will Zirzow entered the game and was able to close the door on the win. The middle was very good and the beginning and end were inconsequential to the decision but it leaves a bit of a sour taste heading into the final game between the Seminole and Yellow Jackets.
That aforementioned third and final matchup is scheduled for Sunday at 1 PM with Florida State throwing freshman Cole Sands against GT freshman Jonathan Hughes, who is 3-0 with a sub-one ERA entering this weekend.