The FSU baseball team, fresh off a 10-3 loss to the Clemson Tigers in Saturday's series opener, looked like a brand new team on Sunday, outplaying the Tigers across the board and running away with a 11-2 win, evening the series at one game apiece. Here's what went well, and not so well, in the Seminoles' win:
1. Florida State's starting pitcher Drew Carlton threw perhaps the best outing by an FSU weekend starter this season against Clemson on Sunday. He hit a rough spot in the opening frame, allowing a run on three hits, and gave up another run in the third. However, from that point forward, he was dominant. He surrendered just two hits and no runs over the ensuing 4.1 innings, including a stretch which saw him sit down 10 straight Clemson batters. Carlton's 7.1 innings of work is the most by any Seminole weekend starter this year and he supplemented it by striking out four and allowing only one extra-base hit. Carlton's second straight impressive outing could be an indication of the changing tides of the Florida State rotation at a crucial time.
2. On an afternoon that saw FSU plate 11 runs, it might be a bit surprising to look over to the hit column and notice that the 'Noles did it on only 13 hits. Even more shockingly, Florida State managed only two extra-base hits, a double by Cal Raleigh and a solo home run by John Sansone. Still, the Seminoles' offensive potency on Sunday was fueled by other offensive aspects including working five walks, earning one hit-by-pitch, and a perfect 3-3 mark on stolen base attempts. Center fielder Ben DeLuzio had his best game of the season so far, going 2-4, scoring two runs and knocking in three more. The performance remained balanced throughout the lineup, though, as Taylor Walls, Sansone, and Quincy Nieporte each had multiple-hit games as well, with Walls and Sansone contributing multiple RBI each. When clicking at such a high level, there's a distinct possibility that these bats could be the fuel behind a postseason run for the 'Noles.
3. 24 hours after one of Florida State's worst defensive performances of its 2016 campaign in the series opener at Clemson, the Seminoles were flawless in the field in Sunday's win, committing no errors while Clemson was charged with two errors which led to three unearned runs. FSU's fielding definitely remains a concern but Sunday's quick response and impressive defensive showing ,which was highlighted by a few key defensive plays, shows that the Seminoles are very capable of being a decent defensive team on any given day.
1. On a day when nearly the entire Seminole lineup was contributing in one way or another, the exception to this production will stick out like a sore thumb. In Sunday's game, that player was Florida State's second baseman Hank Truluck. Truluck was the only 'Nole starter who saw extended time in the game and did not record a hit. Truluck, who has been called upon as the replacement second baseman while Matt Henderson is recovering from an injury suffered on Saturday, now possesses a .207 batting average after his 0-2 outing on Sunday. Should Henderson's absence from the lineup be an extended one, Truluck's place in the lineup could prove to be the weak spot in a lineup that has emerged as a strength from the top all the way through the bottom.
2. One sole aspect of FSU's pitching performance left something to be desired. The Seminoles allowed Clemson to go 6-15 (.400) in advancement opportunities, a stark contrast from the .219 which the Tigers hit as a team in Sunday's game. Clemson's positive production in advancement opportunities was cancelled out by an inability to convert with runners on base (3-13, .231) and runners in scoring position (2-8, .250). Still, allowing a team to move runners over so lead to a much worse result on a different day when the cards align differently. That being said, I had to be quite picky with what was a spectacular performance to find three relevant, negative takeaways.
3. The one downside of how good Florida State looked in Sunday's 11-2 win is that Saturday's series opener looks that much worse by comparison. FSU demonstrated how well it could perform in all aspects of the game on Sunday, exposing Saturday's effort, which saw the Seminoles outplayed in every aspect, as an incredible inconsistency. Inconsistencies of this magnitude are frustrating for both the team and the fanbase but also, more importantly, could be very problematic going forward as one bad game or weekend could be all it takes to put FSU out of contention in postseason play.
With the win, Florida State improves to 29-12 (14-5 in ACC) and maintains the lead in the ACC Atlantic division. The Seminoles go for the series win over the Tigers on Monday night at 7 PM on ESPNU and will see FSU freshman hurler Cole Sands (3-4, 4.81 ERA) face off against Clemson's Alex Schnell (0-0. 3.00 ERA).