The Florida State baseball team entered Wednesday's game against UCF looking to sweep its midweek series against the Knights for the second straight year. In the end, the Seminoles got it done, winning 5-4, but it took extra innings and some late-game heroics to get the job done.
1. After Tuesday night's win, it was announced that Ed Voyles would be making his second start of the 2016 season, third career start at FSU, on Wednesday against Central Florida. So far this season, Voyles has been exceptional, throwing 18 innings and surrendering one earned run on 21 hits, striking out 22 and walking only four. For the most part, Wednesday was not different. Voyles tossed the first four innings of the game, allowing one run on five hits. He found himself in a few jams but also found a way to work himself out of it. The lone significant blemish on Voyles' outing was the solo home run he allowed in the top of the fourth inning. Outside of that, it was the status quo for Voyles. Together, the Voyles brothers have combined to headline the bullpen that is emerging as the secret asset that no one expected entering this season.
2. On a good but not great afternoon for Florida State at the plate, first baseman Dylan Busby rose above to prove himself as a difference maker. Busby was the only Seminole who mustered more than one hit and one of those hits was a solo homer, his third of the season with all three coming in the last two weeks. Busby's average now sits at a cool .348, third-best among the everyday starters behind only John Sansone and Taylor Walls. Busby has shown in stretches that he is a very capable hitter both in power and contact. However, his issue has been stringing together a consistent streak and maintaining a high level of play. Still, the last few weeks have been promising for what he could bring to this team going forward.
3. Although in many ways it was not the most impressive victory, this game put the Seminoles in a tough situation to see how they would handle it. The response? Resilient. Florida State found itself in a late-game hole after closer Tyler Warmoth allowed a three-run home run to give UCF a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth inning. From there, the 'Noles were down to their final six outs to score one run and level the score of a game which they led for the majority of the innings, a scenario unlike one that this team had encountered before today. FSU wasted little time, scoring the tying run in the ensuing bottom of the eighth inning and winning it with a walk-off single by Taylor Walls in the 11th. It wasn't always pretty but, in baseball, there are just some days where that is the case and the Seminoles didn't let that stop them from earning the victory in gut-check fashion.
1. It was a middle of the road performance for the Florida State bats on Wednesday. Not as miserable as some recent performances, such as the dismal loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday, but far from what this offense has shown it is capable of. The Seminoles finished with seven strikeouts and left eight men on base. However, the most telling offensive stat from Wednesday was how FSU struggled against left-handed pitchers. After Tuesday's game, head coach Mike Martin made note of how few lefties the Seminoles had faced in the first 21 games of the year, a point that seemed to be exploited in game two between Florida State and Central Florida. UCF threw a pair of left-handed pitchers and they had the 'Noles in fits, limiting them to 5-26 (.192) when a lefty was on the mound, an aspect that many ACC teams could exploit if strides are not made.
2. Quincy Nieporte had one successful plate appearance in the win over UCF, knocking in the tying run in the bottom of the 8th inning. Outside of that at-bat, though, Nieporte struggled mightily. He finished the game 1-4 and grounded into the Seminoles' lone double play, the team-leading seventh double play he has grounded into this year despite being suspended for the first six games of the season. Although he has shown at times that he can deliver as a power hitter, Nieporte is still in search of his first homer of 2016 after 15 starts and seems to be lacking the stroke that he had down the stretch of the 2015 season.
3. Florida State finished Wednesday's win with only one error which was credited to replacement catcher Brian Bussey. Sure, next to some games this season, one error is very respectable. However, a deeper look shows that there were other potentially costly mistakes which could have proved to be the difference between a win and a loss on another day. One striking example of this was Sansone earning a leadoff hit-by-pitch in the sixth inning that was almost immediately cancelled out by him being carelessly picked off at first base. These baserunning mistakes are in some ways less forgivable than defensive errors because they are likely to kill a potential rally that FSU could be building on. There's not denying how formidable this team's speed on the basepaths is, it's just a matter of cleaning up the mistakes which make it, at times, more of a liability.
With the win, Florida State improves to 17-5. The Seminoles next welcome in ACC foe North Carolina State this weekend for a top-15 matchup.