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3 up, 3 down: Florida State baseball underwhelms in series finale at Wake Forest

The Seminoles underperformed in nearly every aspect as they dropped their first weekend series of the 2016 season.

John Sansone
John Sansone
Jay Chantlos

The Florida State baseball team's roller coaster performance in the weekend series at Wake Forest continued on Sunday. The Seminoles followed up Saturday's offensive explosion with a futile showing at the plate in Sunday's rubber match. In the end, FSU fell 4-2 to the Demon Deacons, losing a weekend series for the first time this year and losing a series against Wake Forest for the first time in 14 years.

3 up

1. On a day where Florida State managed only 7 hits, almost all of its production came from Taylor Walls and John Sansone, the No. 1 and 2 hitters in the Florida State lineup. Walls and Sansone were the only two Seminoles who had more than one hit, each going 2-4. Their combined .500 average is made more drastic when comparing it to the .130 batting average sustained by the bottom seven batters in the lineup on Sunday. These two have been among FSU's highest producers throughout the 2016 season but the loss in the series finale against the Deacons is proof that they can't do it by themselves.

2. Florida State completed a very good defensive weekend on Sunday with an error-free effort in the series finale. Over these three games, the Seminoles committed just one error. For all the things that went wrong this weekend against Wake Forest, FSU rarely got in its own way defensively, a difference-maker in a weekend series where the bats are producing at even a marginally higher rate.

3. Stop me if you have heard this one before: the Florida State bullpen wowed after an unimpressive appearance by a Seminole starting pitcher. Ed Voyles was called upon in the fifth inning of Sunday's game and matched the workload of the starter, Cole Sands, but looked far more impressive in doing so. He went four innings and allowed a mere two baserunners, both by hit, and no runs. Voyles' four innings of scoreless work moves his ERA back below 2.00 to 1.93, coming the gap between his and his brother Jim's 1.08 earned run average. Voyles did everything in his power to lead a comeback but, unfortunately for the team, his pitching prowess did not transfer over to the offensive side of the ball.

3 down

1. It was assumed that this Florida State team would have a field day with the Demon Deacons' Sunday starter Connor Johnstone, who entered this weekend with an undesirable 5.48 earned run average. However, Johnstone and the rest of the Wake pitching staff shut down for the second time in three games in Sunday's rubber match, limiting them to a .226 team batting average (7-31) and shutting the 'Noles down in situational hitting. FSU finished 3-15 (.200) with runners on base, 1-7 (.143) with runners on base and 0-6 when batting with two outs. Florida State couldn't mount any sort of a rally, grounding into three double plays, and perhaps most notably of all, drew only two walks. It was a forgettable performance at the plate in every measurable way and it resulted in a dreadful series loss.

2. Just one week after his outstanding outing against Louisville, one of the most potent offenses in the nation, freshman pitcher Cole Sands was rocked by a Wake Forest team that has only two regular starters batting over .300.  Sands worked only four innings, capping off a weekend in which FSU's three starters pitched a combined 13.1 innings out of a possible 27. In those four innings, he gave up four runs, all earned, on eight hits, also walking three, all in the first inning, and striking out two. After Sunday's outing, Sands' ERA sits at 4.81. Last weekend was evidence of how high his ceiling can be but the outing against Wake shows that he is still struggling with consistency.

3. This series loss to Wake immediately after a sweep at the hands of rival Florida will do little to help the Seminoles' pursuit of a national seed. FSU, who came in as the No. 3 national seed in each of D1 Baseball's postseason projections, will surely drop this upcoming week, perhaps even falling out of the top eight teams. The series loss to Wake has removed any chance of a mulligan FSU may have had entering this weekend and may require Florida State to now win the season-ending series at home against a very talented Miami team should they desire to be a national seed in the postseason.

The loss drops FSU to 23-11 (10-4) on the year and makes the Seminoles' hold on the ACC Atlantic lead significantly more fragile. Florida State is next in action on Tuesday for a two-game midweek series at home against Stetson before welcoming in Notre Dame next weekend.