The Florida State baseball team welcomed the NC State Wolfpack to Tallahassee on Friday for the first of three games this weekend between the two teams. FSU scored early and held off a surge from NCSU to come away with an 8-5 win in the series opener. Here's the positive and negative takeaways from Friday's win:
1. The Florida State offense struck early in Friday's series opener. The Seminoles brought 11 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first inning which saw them score six runs on five hits. Freshman Jackson Lueck was the catalyst of the rally, knocking in three runs with his bases-clearing double but it was a team effort across the board as an impressive eight straight batters reached base via hit, walk, or hit-by-pitch during a key stretch of the inning when the Seminoles were clicking on all cylinders.
2. In what is becoming an uncomfortably common occurrence this year, the Florida State bullpen bailed out a short and ineffective outing by the starting pitcher on Friday night. This time, it was Jim Voyles, Matthew Kinney, and Tyler Warmoth who combined to throw 5.2 innings of relief work, allowing two total hits and one run while striking out seven. Kinney and Warmoth were particularly effective in the win. Kinney needed only 24 pitches to retire all seven NC State batters he faced, throwing a perfect 2.1 innings and Warmoth bounced back from allowing a home run in a save opportunity on Wednesday to strike out the side in the 9th, preserving the win and his first save of the season. Head Coach Mike Martin was not shy about hiding the fact that the depth that this bullpen has could be one of this team's biggest assets and that will be on full display during tomorrow's doubleheader.
3. Florida State posted the coveted zero in the error column in Friday's win, improving on what has been a relatively successful week in the field for the Seminoles. One major proponent of the perfect fielding night was first baseman Dylan Busby, who was called upon to make multiple plays on low throws to first throughout the game, rising to the call on each occasion. Busby struggled mightily defensively in 2015, starting at third base instead of first, but has appeared much more comfortable at first so far this, committing a mere two errors through 23 games this year after 18 a season ago. As a team, the Seminoles have had two errors so far this week through three games with no more than one coming in any single game. This is a welcome change from the defensive play shown by Florida State earlier in the season.
1. Mike Compton kicked off his outing Friday in good fashion and appeared ready for the moment, setting down the first six batters he saw with no balls even leaving the infield. From there, the wheels came off and NC State did well to take advantage of Compton, abusing the contact pitcher for four runs, all earned, on six hits over the next 1.1 innings. For the second straight weekend, Compton could not get out of the fourth inning and his sub-par outing allowed the Wolfpack to climb squarely back into the game before he departed and was saved by the bullpen.
2. After a six-run first inning, the Florida State bats went absolutely frigid. Over the next five innings, the Seminoles managed only three baserunners, one each by hit, walk, and reaching base on an error. However, two of those were instantly cancelled out by double plays and the third led to nothing. As such, the same FSU team that plated six runs on five hits in the first inning alone racked up no runs on one hit over the following five frames. Meanwhile, NCSU crawled its way back into the game bit by bit, scoring five unanswered runs to make it a 6-5 game after six innings. If not for the late-game response by Raleigh, the 'Noles offensive struggles after staking themselves to a 6-0 lead could have led to a different result.
3. A continuing issue for this Florida State team, baserunning mistakes, showed up in a significant way in the series opener against the Wolfpack. In the first inning, John Sansone ran through a stop sign from Mike Martin Jr. at third base on a double by Cal Raleigh and was thrown out at home. The very next inning, Raleigh reached on an error and advanced to second on a balk before running on contact on a hard-hit ball to short and being thrown out at third for the first out of the inning, breaking an unwritten rule of baseball. Although they do not show up in the error column, these baserunning errors have been a consistent problem for the Seminoles in years past and this year would seem to be no different.
With the win, the Seminoles improve to 18-5 (6-1 in the ACC). There's little time for the two teams to rest as likely bad weather on Sunday has caused the administration to move Sunday's game to tomorrow as part of a doubleheader. First pitch of Saturday's first game is scheduled for 12 PM and will see the Seminoles' Drew Carlton (4-0, 3.08 ERA) face off against NC State's Brian Brown (2-0, 3.33 ERA).