The Florida State baseball team has won 40 or more games every season for each of the last 39 years. That era includes the entirety of Mike Martin’s 37-year head coaching career as well as Martin’s final two years as an assistant at FSU.
Sure, the streak has been in jeopardy a few times. For instance, in 2016 the Seminoles notched their 40th win in the final game of the Tallahassee Regional, finishing the season with 41, the lowest total of Mike Martin’s career.
That being said, this year’s path to 40 wins and continued history may be the toughest Martin has ever faced.
With six regular season games left, FSU sits at 32 wins. Unfortunately for FSU, those two remaining ACC series are against two of the top teams in the conference.
This weekend, the Seminoles take on a Wake Forest team that is 3.5 games ahead of them in the Atlantic Division standings. The Demon Deacons are an offensive juggernaut, leading the nation in home runs with 82, five more than any other team. Five Wake Forest batters have hit 10 or more homers this season and a pair, Gavin Sheets and Johnny Aiello, who have hit 15 or more. The series against Wake will be not only one of the pitching staff’s toughest challenges this season, but also a challenge for the Florida State lineup to keep pace.
After the series against Wake, the ’Noles get little time to rest, traveling the weekend after to take on Louisville, a team that is running away with the ACC regular season title and will surely be a frontrunner to win the College World Series once postseason play gets underway.
UL, ranked second nationally in ERA (2.58) and 20th in scoring (7.5 runs per game), will be the best overall team the Seminoles have played this year. Winning one game against a team of that caliber would be a win for FSU.
Let’s project two wins for Florida State this weekend, on account of entering on a five-game win streak as well as having the home-field advantage. Add that to one projected win against Louisville and that brings the season win total to 35 as the regular season gives way to the postseason.
The ACC Tournament, being played in Louisville this season for the first time, has taken on a new format, replacing two pools of four teams with four pools of three teams. As such, the guaranteed number of games played drops from three to two.
FSU would be the No. 7 seed if the ACC Tournament started today, pairing them in a pool with No. 2 seed Clemson and No. 11 seed Duke. The Duke game seems likely to win, but the Clemson one is a tougher test as well as a win likely required to make it through to the next round, which could present up to two more games.
However many wins Florida State comes away with the ACC Tournament, it is most likely true that the team will need still more wins in its NCAA Tournament Regional, which will almost assuredly not be in Tallahassee. Whatever the case may be, a run in either in the ACC or NCAA Tournament will be a near-requirement if the Seminoles wish to extend the 40-win streak to an even 40 years.
That’s not to say it’s impossible. Last season, FSU had 34 wins heading into the ACC Tournament before rattling off seven wins in the postseason to keep the streak alive and I would venture to say that this year’s team is more talented than the 2016 squad. But, the challenge will be a strong one for a team that has struggled throughout its 2017 campaign with consistency.