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3 up, 3 down: Florida State routs Samford in series opener

It was a blowout from the get-go.

Dylan Busby

Florida State did well in its second weekend opener of the season to improve on lessons learned from the season opener. A week after getting shutout at home by VCU, the Seminoles scored early and often in their 16-3 win over the Samford Bulldogs.

3 up

1. Twice so far this young season, the Florida State offense has delivered a highly disappointing performance. Twice this season, the same FSU offense has responded in a major way with an explosion at the plate in the games directly after these poor showings. Friday’s win over Samford was the second of these two as the Seminoles put up nine runs over the first two innings in their blowout win over the Bulldogs.

It was a balanced effort for the Seminoles lineup. Of FSU’s nine starters in the batting order, nearly all of whom were removed by the beginning of the seventh inning, seven had at least one hit, seven contributed at least one RBI, and eight scored a run.

The star of the show on Friday was junior designated hitter Rhett Aplin. Aplin, a first-year player at FSU after spending a pair of years at Seminole State College, continues to make his impact felt. He went 4-5 with his second home run of the year, a double, four RBIs, and four runs, finishing a triple short of the cycle. Aplin has been a surprise addition to the Florida State lineup early this year and has made a dangerous Florida State lineup even more deadly.

Also of note was the emergence of Dylan Busby. Busby, who entered Friday’s game with a dreadful .059 batting average on the year, clobbered a three-run homer in his first at-bat of the game and padded his stats with an RBI single later in the game. His 2-3 afternoon at the plate raised his batting average nearly 100 points up to .150 on the year.

2. When called upon to make the first Friday start of his young career, Cole Sands rose to the occasion in a big way. Sands went five strong innings, allowing two runs on three hits while striking out six, matching his career high, and walking two batters. If not for the mistake pitch which Samford’s Kevin Williams Jr. took over the fence in left for a two-run bomb, it was a near-perfect start for the sophomore. Last season, Florida State head coach Mike Martin said that he believed Cole Sands would be a future Friday starter. The opener against Samford was solid evidence of what he brings to the table.

3. Sands, along with the rest of the Florida State pitching staff, excelled in one special area on the mound: situational pitching. Samford finished with six hits along with three drawn walks, putting itself into position to score more runs than the three they earned. However, the FSU staff limited the Bulldogs severely once they got runners on base, holding them to 2-14 (.193) with runners on base, 0-5 with runners in scoring position, and 0-8 with two outs. Key in this development was the staff’s ability to induce double plays, putting together three in all, two of which came from Sands.

3 down

1. Cal Raleigh’s opening week struggles have unfortunately carried into the second week of the season. Raleigh was 0-3 with a walk, a run, and two runners left on base, dropping his season batting average to .050. It’s still too early to worry heavily about Raleigh’s long-term production. However, he was pegged as a key contributor to the Florida State lineup entering the year and likely remains a necessary piece for the Seminoles to have significant success in the postseason so it can’t be entirely pushed aside either.

2. Florida State may have limited Samford to six hits, but the ’Noles pitching staff was a bit susceptible to allowing extra-base hits in the victory. Three of the Bulldogs’ six hits were of the extra-base variety, a pair of home runs and a double. Given, FSU’s sensational situational pitching kept this under control in this instance. It still must be deemed unfortunate, especially if it becomes a trend.

3. FSU’s starters in the field played an error-free six innings of baseball. However, in desperate need of a third negative takeaway, I’m forced to point to the Seminoles’ sole fielding error, committed by Nick Derr at second base. Derr may not be pushing for playing time at second this year with senior Matt Henderson firmly in the role. However, he has emerged as a likely candidate to replace Henderson at second next year because of his ability at the plate and needs to use this time to grow as a fielder.

Game #2 of the weekend series is slated for 1 PM start on Saturday at Dick Howser Stadium with Tyler Holton going for Florida State.