The Florida State baseball team returned to action on Tuesday with the memory of taking a weekend series over a stacked Louisville team fresh in their minds. However, that momentum was quickly snapped by the visiting Florida Gators, 8-2, in another game between the two teams which was closer than the final score would indicate. Here's some positive and negative takeaways from the Seminoles' loss to Florida which completed UF's season sweep:
1. The main bright spot for the FSU offense in an otherwise disappointing performance was outfielder Jackson Lueck. The freshman from Orlando, Florida provided the first of the Seminoles' two runs on Tuesday in the fourth inning by way of a solo home run, the first of his Florida State career. Lueck also added another single and finished the game as the only Seminole with more than one hit. His 2-4 night moves his season batting average to .486 and gives him a stellar .608 on-base percentage in his freshman campaign. This recent stretch for Lueck, after he was hampered briefly by a hand injury last week, has been a good demonstration of why he belongs in the everyday lineup.
2. FSU's far-and-away most dominant pitcher on Tuesday was Cobi Johnson. He threw 1.2 innings of scoreless, one-hit baseball and struck out one. Johnson's pitches are among the best of anyone on the team when he shows good control and has had a stretch of solid appearances out of the bullpen recently. Tuesday was no different but, in a cruel twist of fate for FSU, Johnson's outing was ended prematurely when he felt a pain in his throwing elbow and was immediately pulled from the game. Head coach Mike Martin expressed his concern after the game, saying that they would not know the full diagnosis for Johnson's injury until the MRI results come back tomorrow. but for obvious reasons, a throwing arm injury is concerning.
3. There was one offensive stat category in which Florida State did not struggle: getting leadoff men on base. Five of the Seminoles' nine leadoff batters reached base (.556). Yes, this was deemed irrelevant by poor situational hitting and multiple bouts of bad luck but on many days, the ability to get the leadoff batter on base will lead to more successful results.
1. For the third straight game against Florida, FSU proved utterly incapable of producing with runners on base. Although the team's .188 batting average in Tuesday's loss is bad to begin with, the results with runners on base prove to be even rougher. The Seminoles finished 1-19 (.053) with runners on base and 1-14 (.071) with runners in scoring position, leaving 11 men on base. This has been a common theme for Florida State throughout the 2016 season but it has reared its head most notably in each loss to UF. Over the three games between the rivals, FSU left a total of 28 men on base. Now, it is definitely worth acknowledging that in Tuesday's loss, the 'Noles were on the wrong side of some incredible defensive plays, most memorably loading the bases with no outs and coming up with only one run due to a pair of spectacular plays by Gator fielders. Still, the inability to produce in the clutch emerged as a common theme in each of the Seminoles' three losses to Florida this season.
2. Across the first two games between the Seminoles and Gators, UF looked the better fielding team. Tuesday's series finale was no different as Florida State finished with a pair of errors, as well as a number of other miscues that do not show up in the error column, while Florida committed no errors for the second time in its three games against FSU. More consequentially, each of those errors by FSU led to an unearned run. Over the course of the three games, the Seminoles lost the error battle 5-2 and very much looked the part of the worst fielding team. UF made spectacular defensive plays in each game, backing up its .983 team fielding percentage this year, while FSU struggled at times even making menial plays in the field, a testament to the.967 fielding percentage it had as a team entering Tuesday.
3. Ed and Jim Voyles, who have been Florida State's most dependable arms out of the bullpen, were both used on Tuesday and each of them proved ineffective. The twin brothers entered the game against UF with a combined 1.23 ERA in over 50 innings of work between the two of them. In the final game against the Gators, the two struggled mightily, giving up a combined three earned runs on six hits over 2.1 innings of work with two walks and a strikeout. Their rough nights can easily be explained by mentioning that they were going up against one of the most offensively-potent teams in the country and the Seminoles are hoping that is the case and that the Voyles' hot streaks are not coming to an end.
With the loss, FSU falls to 22-9 (9-2) on the year and finds itself on the wrong side of a sweep by Florida for the third time in five years. This was the final game between Florida State and Florida this year, although the two could meet in postseason play as they did last year in Gainesville. The Seminoles next take on Wake Forest on the road this weekend for a three-game series and, as always, Tomahawk Nation will be providing coverage for each of the games.