It may only be March 21st, but crazy things are already happening in Dick Howser Stadium this year. For the second time already this season in 22 games, FSU overcame a 7-0 deficit on Tuesday to walk off with a 10-9 win over the visiting Jacksonville Dolphins. As is to be expected from a game as bipolar as this one, there was a lot to like as well as a lot to dislike from FSU’s come-from-behind victory.
1. Florida State’s bullpen has been much-maligned this year and deservedly so. However, backed into a corner on Tuesday, the pen played a key role in the gradual comeback.
Jim Voyles, Ed Voyles, Alec Byrd, Chase Haney, Will Zirzow, and Drew Carlton combined to throw 8.1 innings of relief work, allowing three runs, one earned, in the process. It wasn’t always easy as each of the Voyles’ boys and Haney found themselves in jams to varying degrees and the pen combined to allow eight hits over their extended time in the game.
Nonetheless, they managed to escape unscathed nearly every time in large part thanks to a combined eight strikeouts and no walks. Perhaps this outing could be a collective step in the right direction for a bullpen desperately in need of production and, even more importantly, confidence.
2. Florida State’s offense clawed back into the game, bit by bit, scoring in seven different innings and no more than three runs in any single inning, with a special reliance put onto the long ball.
FSU finished the win with three homers, one each from Taylor Walls, Nick Derr, and Cal Raleigh. For Walls and Raleigh, the home runs could potentially help them break out of the early-season slumps they have been enduring.
Walls matched a career high with his four hits against the Dolphins, coming up just a triple short of the cycle. His sixth-inning homer, the third of the season for Walls, was paired with a double as part of an outing which saw him score two runs and knock in two more, raising his average to .253 in the process.
Raleigh, meanwhile, finished the game 3-4 with a trio of runs and an RBI on his moonshot to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning in grand fashion, improving his average to .265.
The Seminoles’ savior, though, was freshman centerfielder J.C. Flowers. His two-run single in the bottom of the ninth gave FSU a walk-off victory on its first lead of the day. When one of your youngest players who was batting in the nine hole is coming through with hits in the clutch like that, it bodes well for what your lineup will be able to accomplish.
3. Perhaps even bigger than either of the aforementioned positive takeaways from Tuesday was the attitude of the entire Florida State team throughout the game. Maybe it was the 1-4 record the team suffered last week on the road, maybe the 5:30 AM practice that Mike Martin scheduled for Monday, maybe the players-only meeting the team organized after last week’s dreadful showing, most likely it was a combination of those three.
Whatever the cause was, the entire FSU team was invested in Tuesday’s matchup from the jump. Throughout the first inning which saw JU plate seven runs, the entire team stayed on the rail of the dugout, cheering after every pitch. It had the feel of a game significantly later in the season and more important than it actually was.
This was likely because, as stated by members of the team afterwards, it was a very important game for the team and the place it was in after last week. Walls went so far as to say that it was probably the biggest game of his entire baseball career.
Whatever the reasoning, the team was quick to say that it plans on carrying the same level of passion going forward. With a team as talented as this one is, especially offensively, passion to that degree could make the difference.
1. A week after he allowed one run on five hits in seven innings at No. 5 Florida, the best start of his career so far, Andrew Karp had undoubtedly his worst outing. The redshirt sophomore failed to make it out of the first inning, allowing six runs, all earned, while only going two-thirds of an inning.
For some perspective both on how solid his season has been before Tuesday as well as how poor his start against Jacksonville was, Karp’s six runs allowed was as many as he had given up in his 25.2 innings of work this year before this week’s matchup. Furthermore, Karp’s control was nowhere to be found on Tuesday as he walked two and had a hit-by-pitch, straying from his normally solid command.
On the bright side, it was the first real blemish on Karp’s resume. I still expect him to break into the weekend rotation at some point this year. Still, Tuesday’s start was dreadful, especially considering the fact that this was his second time going up against the Dolphins this year.
2. Florida State’s fielding was suboptimal on Tuesday, especially from the Seminoles’ freshmen fielders. Flowers committed his first error of the season when he misplayed a ball hit his way. His mistake may not have been costly, but the second error was significantly more troublesome.
Tyler Daughtry’s throwing error to first, his second of the year, on the leadoff batter of the Jacksonville fifth inning led directly to a pair of unearned runs which made the already difficult task of overcoming a seven-run deficit even more challenging.
3. With so much going well for the FSU lineup on Tuesday, the one spot which sticks out was Daughtry. His 0-4 performance, three of which resulted in the side being retired, was negatively accented by his inability to work any walks, which he has quickly become one of the best on the team at, while striking out once. When adding his showing at the plate to his fielding error, it was a night to forget for the freshman.
With the win, Florida State improves to 15-7 on the year. Next up for the Seminoles, a three-game stint in South Bend this weekend as they take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-12).