It was known coming in that it would take a special effort for the eighth-ranked Florida State baseball team to knock off one of the nation's best teams in the No. 4 Louisville Cardinals. On Friday night, that's exactly what we saw from the Seminoles. It was an offensive explosion as the two teams combined for 19 runs and 31 hits in FSU's 12-7 win that stakes the 'Noles to a 1-0 series lead over the Cardinals in a matchup of the top two teams in the ACC Atlantic. Here's what went well -- and not so well -- in the marquee victory for Florida State.
1. To say that the Florida State bats came through in a big way on Friday would be a massive understatement. FSU tagged a Louisville pitching staff that entered this weekend with a nation-leading 2.23 team ERA for 12 runs, nine earned, on 19 hits. No Cardinal hurler was exempt as all four UL pitchers allowed at least one earned run. The Seminoles' win will be remembered for the seventh inning in which FSU plated seven runs on five hits with five of those runs coming with two outs in the frame. The highlights were senior infielder John Sansone delivering a two-run double down the third-base line at the end of a 10-pitch at-bat which saw him foul off four pitches with a full count and Cal Raleigh's no-doubt, two-run moon shot on the first pitch he saw. Matt Henderson's 4-4 effort at the plate with two runs and two RBIs must not go unmentioned as well. All in all, it was a team effort. 10 different 'Noles had at least one hit and nine scored at least one run.
2. What makes the Seminoles' win even more magnificent was the resiliency the team showed. They trailed 1-0 after one inning and 2-0 through two. After the top of the fourth inning, Florida State found itself in a 4-1 hole and looking another underwhelming loss on a big stage right in the face. However, FSU learned from its previous mistakes and had a response each time UL made another run. The biggest aspect that keyed the comeback was taking advantage of the opportunities provided to them, something that this team has struggled mightily with this year. The Seminoles finished 13-28 (.464) with runners on base, 9-18 (.500) with runners in scoring position, and 6-14 (.429) with two outs. This is a drastic turnaround from the situational hitting issues that FSU encountered earlier in the season in each of the two games so far against the top-ranked University of Florida and shows that there is hope yet for this team to develop in situational hitting.
3. Florida State entered this weekend with a dismal .968 team fielding percentage, among the worst in the ACC, while Louisville held a .978 fielding percentage, the third-best mark in the conference. Still, the teams looked like equals in the field on Friday with the Seminoles possibly holding even a narrow edge. Both sides finished with one error but FSU made multiple key defensive plays at crucial moments in the game. This team is definitely trending upwards with regard to fielding and tonight was evidence of that against a very talented team.
1. As mentioned above, Florida State found itself in a early deficit in Friday's game. This was due to a contact pitcher, redshirt senior Mike Compton, being exposed by a very good hitting team in Louisville. Compton was chased after 3+ innings, allowing three runs, two earned, on eight hits and allowing Louisville to begin the game with a .444 batting average at the time of his departure. Compton did not have his best stuff on Friday and, in many regards, was lucky not to get saddled with the loss.
2. Another notable thing which contributed to FSU's early deficit was a lack of awareness when it came to baserunning. Three times in the first three innings on Friday, a Florida State baserunner either ignored third-base coach Mike Martin Jr. or was simply reckless on the basepaths, lacking awareness of the situation. In each of the three cases, it resulted directly in an out, halting what was shaping up to be a productive inning. This has been a problem across the team which has presented itself at inopportune moments through the first half of the season and very well could have spelled the difference in the final result on a different day.
3. The relief efforts were an improvement as the one reliever who allowed three hits, Alec Byrd, worked three full innings. The most susceptible aspect of the 'Noles pitching performance was their liability of allowing long balls. Byrd allowed a pair of solo home runs and Matthew Kinney allowed a two-run bomb in the seventh inning. As a unit, the FSU relievers allowing five hits and no walks over six innings of work is stellar. But, when three of those five hits are homers, it presents a bit more of a problem.
With the win, Florida State improves to 21-7 on the year, 8-1 in ACC play while Louisville falls to 23-6, 9-4 in conference. Despite the glowing performance, the Seminoles get little time to bask in the win, returning to the diamond on Saturday for the second game of the series. It will see Florida State throw Drew Carlton (4-1, 3.38 ERA) against Louisville's dominant southpaw Drew Harrington (6-1, 1.23). First pitch is scheduled for 6 PM.