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3 up, 3 down: Huge seventh inning fuels FSU win over NC State

Florida State scored more in one inning than NC State did in nine.

Cal Raleigh
Larry Novey

No. 22 Florida State kicked off its weekend series at NC State in resounding fashion with a dominant 16-7 win over the Wolfpack on Friday, making it three straight wins after the Seminoles lost all four games last week.

Here are some takeaways, both positive and negative, from Friday’s victory:

3 up

1. The Florida State offense took its time to get going in Friday’s opener against the Wolfpack. When it did, though, it did in a big way.

A ten-run seventh inning proved to be the difference in the Seminoles’ victory in the opening game in Raleigh. In that inning, 15 batters came to the plate and six runs came in to score before an out was even recorded.

Florida State’s usual plate discipline was on full display and played a key role in the win. The Seminoles worked eight walks along with a hit-by-pitch, three of which led directly to runs scoring.

Situational hitting was also a plus for the ’Noles on Friday with the team finishing 12-24 (.500) with runners on base and 5-15 (.333) with runners on scoring position.

2. The player perhaps most in need of a big game was Drew Mendoza and he got exactly that in the weekend opener.

The freshman, who had managed only two hits in 16 at-bats over his first five games, surpassed his previous hit total in the series opener against NC State alone. He went 3-5 with a pair of doubles, a run, and four RBI, three more than he had in the first five games combined.

Only time will tell if this is the beginning of a trend or a turning of the tides, but it’s impossible to deny how important Friday’s game could be for Mendoza’s confidence if nothing else.

3. It was hardly a perfect start for FSU’s Friday night starter Cole Sands, but it goes down both as a quality start and a win in the box score, improving his record on the year to 5-2.

Sands made it through six innings, allowing three runs. all earned, on seven hits. Somehow, Sands once again failed to rack up the strikeouts, finishing with just three despite his superior stuff, but that was cancelled out nicely by just one walk, tied for his lowest total of the year.

3 down

1. For as up and down as Sands’ outing was, Jim Voyles once again disappointed when he was called out of the bullpen.

The senior made it through just 1.1 innings, surrendering four runs, two earned, on two hits. What makes this worse is that Voyles was once again unable to consistently find the strike zone, walking three batters over his brief appearance.

He may have been protecting a 10-run lead, which makes everything on the mound less impactful, but his showing on Friday hardly builds confidence in his abilities from the coaching staff.

2. Eight walks earned by the FSU batting order, as mentioned above, is impressive. Eight strikeouts, however, as the Seminoles racked up as well, is far from ideal.

This has become an unfortunate trend from a team which often finds itself among the best teams in the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio. Mendoza led the way with two strikeouts, the one offensive downside of his performance on Friday while six other Seminoles had a single strikeout each.

3. Why pick a third down from such a convincing victory away from home? FSU’s single error could be discussed here. The negative aspects of Sands’ start could as well as could the few FSU players who were held hitless in the win. None of those feel necessary though. The key is that the Florida State offense we all expected to see this year showed up for one of the first times in conference play and the results were undeniable.

The win improves the Seminoles to 21-11 (7-6 in ACC) on the year. The second game of the weekend series in Raleigh is set for a 6:30 start on Saturday with Tyler Holton (4-0, 1.93 ERA) going for Florida State against NCSU’s Brian Brown (0-0, 3.24).