It wasn’t always evident that the Seminoles would win convincingly, but Florida State ended up with a solid 8-0 victory over Samford on Saturday thanks in large part to another spectacular start for Tyler Holton, who put together quite possibly the best start of his Florida State career.
1. Holton showed little issue whatsoever stepping into the Saturday role with Drew Carlton moving into the bullpen. He matched his career high with seven innings pitched and set a new one with11 strikeouts, the most by a FSU pitcher since 2015. Even more impressively, he made it through his seven innings of work on an incredibly efficient 98 pitches, allowing no runs on two hits.
After Saturday’s game, Florida State’s starting pitchers have combined to allow five earned runs over 36.1 innings of work (1.24 ERA) with 40 strikeouts to eight walks. It may be non-conference play, but this rotation has made has surpassed expectations in a big way early on this season.
2. It was a bit slow going early on for the Florida State offense, but when the Seminoles finally broke through, they did so in grand fashion.
Quincy Nieporte played a key role in this as he continued his torrid start to the 2017 season on Saturday. His fifth-inning grand slam after Samford elected to intentionally walk Rhett Aplin before him gave the Seminoles the momentous play of their five-run fifth inning which gave the team some much needed distance after a slow offensive start. Nieporte added another RBI on a single in the eighth inning and accounted for two more runs on plays which resulted in errors. In all, Nieporte’s at-bats were responsible for seven of FSU’s eight runs in Saturday’s win. Through six games this year, he has a pair of home runs along with 10 RBI already this season.
3. Cal Raleigh broke through on Saturday as well, knocking in FSU’s first run with a double in the fifth inning, his first extra-base hit of the season, and adding another hit. His 2-3 mark on Saturday moved him north of the Mendoza line up to .217 with a .357 on-base percentage. Considering he entered Saturday with a .059 average, this was a major step forward and could serve to break the slump he has suffered through the early stretch of the season.
1. As mentioned above, it was not a quick start for FSU’s offense on Saturday. Through four innings, the Seminoles had accumulated four hits. However, that had led to no runs as the ’Noles had stranded five runners on base, three of whom were in scoring position. Florida State finally managed to break through for a five-run fifth inning on only two hits, but there was a building sense of deja vu in Dick Howser Stadium when Florida State was kept off the board through four innings.
2. Holton’s one undesirable aspect of his outing was his occasionally spotty control. He finished the game with three walks and a hit-by-pitch, with Mike Martin saying after the game that he was surprised to see Holton struggle as much as he did in finding the strike zone. Still, Holton proved resilient, often bouncing immediately back with a strikeout or easy grounder which helped him escape from the scattered and non-severe jams he found himself in.
3. On a different day, 11 men left on base, and a .188 (3-16) mark with runners in scoring position could have been troublesome. Given Florida State’s excellent pitching on Saturday, it was deemed irrelevant, but that may not always be the case and must be acknowledged.
The Seminoles go for a sweep of the Bulldogs on Sunday with freshman Drew Parrish slated to make his first career start at Florida State. First pitch is set for 1 PM.