Ahead of Wednesday night's matchup between the Florida State Seminoles and Villanova Wildcats, it seemed unlikely to be a slobberknocker. After all, FSU entered the game with a 5-2 record while VU was 2-5 including a loss to Chicago State and a sweep by the Boston College Eagles. However, after 14 innings, 21 runs, and a combined 15 pitchers and 29 position players, Florida State escaped in every sense of the word with an 11-10 win over the Wildcats. Here are the three up and three down from the wacky win.
1. After Florida State's first two losses which can both be attributed to poor offensive showings that the pitching staff could not overcome, the bats cannot be blamed for the narrow margin against the Wildcats. Florida State finished with 11 runs on 14 hits with much of the offense coming early on. John Sansone added three more RBIs to his already-lofty resume, putting his season total at 17 and places him firmly in the top ten nationally. An additional offensive strength for the Seminoles was their plate discipline, drawing a magnificent 14 walks while striking out only four times. There will surely be more days where the offense needs to carry the load to counter uninspiring pitching and the bats showed tonight that they were up for it.
2. Tyler Warmoth was the major bright spot out of a very stressful pitching performance from FSU. Warmoth, the Seminoles' closer.was put into the game with runners on the corners and two outs. He was up to the challenge, striking out the batter he faced to get out of the jam. As it turned out, that would be the first of many strikeouts for Warmoth, who went 3.1 innings, allowing only one hit and one walk while recording six of his ten outs by way of the strikeout. The impressive, lengthy outing that saw him throw 48 pitches (two less than the 50 thrown by starting pitcher Cobi Johnson) preserved his 0.00 ERA and holds an equally impressive 0.49 WHIP. Unfortunately for FSU, Warmoth was just about the only pitcher who found a consistent groove in Wednesday's win.
3. Florida State exploited a Villanova team that was not equipped to handle the Seminoles' speed to the tune of seven stolen bases. Taylor Walls was the most effective Florida State baserunner, racking up three stolen bases by the end of the second inning. Although still early in the season, the baserunning ability that head coach Mike Martin said would be the Seminoles' strong suit has proven to be just that and could be the difference in other games down the stretch.
1. In the early and middle innings of Wednesday's game, the Seminoles' pitching staff seemed doomed to struggle with the Wildcats for the entirety of the game. After six innings, Villanova had plated 8 runs and were poised to add to that total. Starting pitcher Cobi Johnson was, at times in the win, very impressive and as the game wore on, very unimpressive. He was chased after a mere three innings having surrendered five runs, all earned, including two home runs. The next two relievers, Alec Byrd and Chase Haney, were not much better, allowing a combined three runs over three innings of work. From that point onward, FSU's pitchers continued to live dangerously but were able to avoid total disaster. In all, Villanova left 17 runners on base with 10 of those coming in extra innings. Although it didn't cost Florida State on Wednesday, there's little doubt that this team would have been burnt from playing with fire too often against a team that was even marginally better.
2. After a lightning-fast start by the Florida State bats, the Seminoles proved unable to score the run that would have won the game on multiple occasions prior to the 14th inning, despite opportunities galore. FSU left 8 men on base in the final six innings which could have all ended in walk-off fashion. Instead, chance after chance went by the wayside and the Seminoles finished 8-29 (.276) with runners on base and 4-18 (.222) with runners in scoring position. The 11 runs look good on paper but there were many more runs left on the table, a fact that cannot be ignored.
3. After a efficient start to the season defensively, particularly in relation to last year's defensive output, Florida State had a very forgettable game in the field for the second straight day, following up Tuesday's four errors with four more against Villanova. One error each came from Taylor Walls, his second in as many days, Dylan Busby, his first of the season, Cal Raleigh, and pitcher Chase Haney. Like the dangerous pitching, error-prone baseball could cost the Seminoles on a daily basis once ACC baseball gets underway.
FSU gets only a brief respite before St. Johns, a regional team from last season, comes to Tallahassee. First pitch for Friday's opener is scheduled for 6 PM.