The Florida State baseball team bounced back from a pair of rough midweek games with a stellar 16-4 win over St. John's on Friday night. The question entering Saturday would be whether a Seminoles team that has struggled with consistency, particularly on offense, could have a second straight positive performance against a team that went to the postseason a season ago in the Red Storm. The short answer to the question? Yes, they were up to the task, easing into the game and leaving little doubt by the time it was over, winning 9-2.
1. From the top to the bottom of the lineup, it was a solid offensive showing for the Seminoles. Eight of the nine FSU starters managed at least one hit and six batters knocked in one run or more. Despite the top to bottom success, the best portion of the FSU lineup was the 3, 4, and 5 hitters (Quincy Nieporte, Cal Raleigh, and Gage West), who went a combined 7-10 (.700) with four RBIs, two doubles, and three walks before all leaving the game early once the win was assured. When the heart of the order is clicking that successfully, there's little that an opposing pitcher can do to counter it.
2. Drew Carlton was once again impressive on Saturday. He recorded a win for the third straight week, improving to 3-0 on the season. For stretches against St. John's, Carlton was untouchable, retiring nine out of ten batters consecutively after allowing a first-inning run. However, what made his outing even more spectacular was the resiliency he showed in clutch situations. The most prominent jam that he worked out of successfully was when the Red Storm led off the fifth inning with back-to-back singles immediately followed by a sacrifice bunt that put runners on second and third with one out and the Seminoles clinging to a one-run lead. Carlton remained calm under pressure, however, using a groundout back to the mound and a strikeout to escape the lethal scenario unscathed. On the season now, Carlton sports an impressive 1.44 ERA after 25 innings of work and 18 strikeouts compared to 8 walks.
3. It was not perfect like Friday night's win but FSU had a nearly impeccable game in the field, a necessity in a game like this one that remained close until Florida State's potent sixth inning. When it was all done, Florida State committed a single error on a misplay by Matt Henderson at second base, which did allow an unearned run to score but held no bearing on the final score. So far this weekend against SJU, the Seminoles have committed only one error, a far cry from the four they committed in each of the mid-week games against Jacksonville and Villanova.
1. The one member of the starting lineup who did not reach the hit column in Saturday's win had a definite game to forget. Dylan Busby remained in after many other starters had been replaced in an attempt to get his offense going but it was to no avail. He finished 0-5 with a strikeout and a miserable seven batters left on base. Despite the sour night, Busby's season batting average is still in a good place at .311 and the down game came when other batters were there to pick up the slack.
2. The one batting flaw for the Seminoles was a few untimely groundballs that led to three double plays that the Red Storm was able to turn. It was irrelevant on Saturday as Florida State was able to overcome it but down the stretch, a game with that many rally-killing double plays could smother what had the makings of a good offensive game.
3. After a two-run first inning, the Florida State bats hit a bit of a dry spell that kept St. John's in the game longer than they were a night ago. No runs crossed the plate in the second through fifth innings for either team and it wasn't until SJU leveled the score at two that the offense woke up and put the game out of reach with seven runs over the final three innings. Still a very noteworthy and overwhelmingly positive outing for the Seminoles' offense but stretches of ineffective batting must be addressed.
The Seminoles go for the sweep of the Red Storm on Sunday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 1 PM.