Florida State got behind early but battled back against the ACC regular-season champion Miami Hurricanes to move to 3-0 in ACC Tournament pool play, courtesy of yet another walk-off win, this one by a score of 5-4. FSU will take on Clemson at 10 am with the ACC Tournament title and its 9th straight ACC baseball tournament win hanging in the balance. What went well and what didn't?
[Editor's note: the formatting for the usual 3-up, 3-down post got screwed up, so in the interest of expediency I am running this in a slightly different style -- Bud]
- Pitching, pitching, pitching. For the second time in as many games, Tyler Holton was brilliant against the Hurricanes. The freshman threw seven innings of two-run ball, recording nine strikeouts to only two walks to quiet the 'Canes. When Holton was hit, he was hit quite hard, as four of his seven allowed hits went for extra bases, but three of those hits occurred with the bases empty. Holton's emergence, along with the recent uptick in the pitching of Cole Sands and Drew Carlton, makes Florida State suddenly look like a difficult post-season out.
- The top/middle of the lineup. While the top of the lineup played well, with Walls and Sansone recording a hit a piece along with three walks (and two Sansone hit by pitches), the real offensive stars were Quincy Neiporte and Dylan Busby. Neiporte and Busby accumulated 7 of FSU's 11 hits on the afternoon, with Busby landing a triple shy of the cycle, along with the walk-off base hit in the ninth. If these two batters can give FSU anywhere near the production in the post season that they've shown this weekend (.611 BA, 9 RBI) Florida State becomes very potent at the plate.
- No errors is huge for this type of game. There was a misplay in left field by Jackson Lueck that should have been an error, but, otherwise, the 'Noles ended the game with a clean sheet. Throw in a strike 'em out, throw 'em out in the first inning, along with a late double play and another magnificent diving catch by DeLuzio, and you help out those pitchers who are, all of a sudden, pitching better. Might there be a correlation between better defense and better pitching?
- Cal Raleigh has had his struggles at the plate in his home state. Raleigh has had one hit in the tournament thus far and sits firmly inside the freshman wall. On the plus side, he's still getting on base (two walks and two runs against the 'Canes) and is not striking out (one K this tournament), but FSU is going to need more out of its No. 3 hitter to progress further in the post season.
- The bottom of the lineup outside of Busby was once again a non-factor for Florida State. Neither DeLuzio, Matt Henderson, Stephen Wells, Jr., nor Hank Truluck recorded a hit in FSU's win against Miami. In fact, only DeLuzio has a hit this week. They also combined for five or FSU's seven strikeouts in the contest. While not much is ever really expected of the bottom of many baseball lineups, you need to at least get productive outs from them-- but FSU did not even get that in its win over the 'Canes.
- Managing-- and not just on one side. With the game tied in the seventh and Florida State bringing Raleigh to the plate with Sansone on second, Miami's Jim Morris inexplicably intentionally walked Raleigh to bring 2-2 Quincy Neiporte to the plate. While this sets up the double play, Neiporte collected his third single on the day, giving the 'Noles the lead, and Raleigh finished the day without a hit. He also finished pool play only recording one hit, while Neiporte sits five of six. Not to be outdone, FSU Manager Mike Martin brought in Tyler Warmoth in the ninth to replace Matt Kinney. Warmoth has struggled mightily and has an ERA above five after loading the bases and only recording a single out against Miami in the process of blowing a two-run FSU lead in the ninth. This is more on Martin than Warmoth, due to the latter's struggles.
Tune in tomorrow, as the Seminoles look for their second-straight ACC baseball tournament title; the opponent will be the Clemson Tigers.