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Florida State baseball begins NCAA Tournament with matchup against Alabama State

The 'Noles will look to begin the NCAA Tournament Tallahassee Regional with a win.

Tom Casazza

Florida State (37-20, 16-10) will begin their journey to the College World Series tonight with a game against No. 4 seed Alabama State (38-15, 24-0) to start off the Tallahassee Regional for both teams.

Coming off a slugfest in which the team put up 13 runs in a loss to Clemson in the ACC Tournament championship game, FSU will look to get back on track and get a win to begin their NCAA Tournament run for the second consecutive year. Alabama State is coming in riding an offensive explosion of their own, winning two conference tournament games by way of mercy rule and scoring a combined 59 runs in their four-game SWAC Tournament title run.

Florida State continues to ride the hot bats of the top of the order, which now includes freshman outfielder Jackson Lueck who has proven that his offensive surge was no fluke, hitting .407 in over 100 at bats including two home runs and a .522 on-base-percentage. Joining him atop the lineup is shortstop Taylor Walls, owning a .357 average with a team leading .480 OBP in 279 plate appearances. Third baseman John Sansone and catcher Cal Raleigh wrap up the dominant half, each hitting 9 home runs while hitting .365 and .301 respectively.

Leading that offensive powerhouse on Alabama State are Florida natives Ray Hernandez, Carlos Ocasio and Dillon Cooper. Hernandez, a third baseman, leads the Hornets with 15 home runs and 61 RBI this season, which are surprising when looking at his freshman year when the current sophomore hit one homer in 35 games. Centerfielder Ocasio ranks second on the team with 13 homers and 60 RBI and is riding a hot streak heading into the Regional, recording hits in seven for his last 17 at bats. Fellow outfielder playing in left, Cooper, leads the team with his .359 average, .641 slugging percentage and .474 on base percentage. He too is a power threat, launching 10 balls over the wall including one in the team's conference tournament title game.

On the hill for Florida State will be Drew Carlton (6-3, 4.15 ERA) who will be making his team leading sixteenth start of the season. The sophomore is coming off a decent outing in the ACC Tournament where he threw five innings against NC State allowing three earned runs and saw himself get in trouble throughout. Carlton isn't the dominant pitcher that looks for strikeouts, but can get hitters to swing a miss regardless, throwing 66 strikeouts in 78 innings pitched this year.  Alabama State will send out Tyler Howe (10-2, 1.48 ERA) as he looks to add onto his great season. In 79 innings pitched, the redshirt junior has thrown 82 strikeouts and has an incredibly low WHIP of .96. The last time he suffered a loss was February 27th and has never allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 12 starts this season.

First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 PM from Dick Howser Stadium and you can always follow along with Tomahawk Nation's live game coverage. All games are available to watch on ESPN3