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3 up, 3 down: FSU comes up short in opening game against Wake Forest

The overnight delay hurt both offenses in a low-scoring affair between two potent lineups.

Taylor Walls
Tom Casazza

In a game which was delayed overnight on account of some poor weather in the area, Florida State came up just short against No. 21 Wake Forest in the series opener, falling 4-3 after squandering multiple opportunities to cut into the Demon Deacons’ one-run lead late in the ballgame.

3 up

1. With 4.2 innings left to be accounted for after an early departure from starting pitcher Cole Sands, the Florida State bullpen put together an impressive combined outing to give the FSU offense every chance to break back into the game.

After Sands left the game, four different relievers combined to throw 4.2 innings of shutout, two-hit baseball. The ‘pen may have been a bit susceptible to control issues, issuing four walks, three of which came from Andrew Karp, but they cancelled that out somewhat with three combined strikeouts.

Going against a Wake Forest offense among the best in the nation, the pitching staff, especially the bullpen, did more than enough to put the FSU offense in a situation to win the game.

2. Tyler Holton once again showed in the opening game of the Wake Forest series why he should have perhaps been used as a position player all season long.

The sophomore, who will pitch the second game on Saturday, clobbered a homer over the right-field wall in the bottom of the fourth inning, just after Wake jumped out to a 3-0 lead. It was his second homer of the season in just his 13th at-bat, his third run, and his fifth and sixth RBI.

Holton, now batting .400 on the season, has been uncovered as a legitimate threat both at the plate and on the mound once again. It may have taken an injury to Rhett Aplin to get Holton into the lineup, but he has the chance to be an x-factor in the FSU lineup down the stretch.

3. The Florida State defense put together another impressive showing in the opener of the weekend series against Wake. It was the Seminoles’ third consecutive error-free game dating back to the finale of last weekend’s Pacific series and is a very positive trend for a Florida State team in desperate need of some breaks going its way.

3 down

1. Let me start here by saying that Cole Sands did not have a poor outing in Friday/Saturday’s series opener against the Demon Deacons.

Sands, who was pulled after 4.1 innings, allowed all four of Wake Forest’s runs on five hits. Of the four runs allowed, three of them came on pitches hung over the plate which were taken for home runs. Outside of that, however, he did well, especially in the opening three innings where he allowed just one walk and no hits.

Still, questions continued to be rightfully raised about why exactly Sands remains in the Friday spot in FSU’s weekend rotation.

2. The FSU lineup was largely stiffled by Wake’s pitching staff in the opening game of the three-game set.

The Seminoles hit .161 as a team in the first game. That number may shoot up to .200 with runners on base and .273 with runners in scoring position, but when a team gets runners on base so rarely, runners in scoring position numbers are deemed somewhat irrelevant.

Perhaps the most damning statistic of all is the fact that FSU’s hitters were 0-9 when leading off innings across the opening game. In a one-run game, that just isn’t going to get it done.

3. Drew Mendoza may have had one of FSU’s five hits in the loss to Wake on Friday/Saturday, but outside of that, he was largely ineffective, even coming across as a bit of a burden in the middle of the FSU lineup.

Batting in the fifth spot of the batting order, Mendoza was 1-4 with three strikeouts, including one to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning with FSU in desperate need of a run.

Mendoza has been a bit guilty of being streaky in his freshman season, but a downward trend at this time would be very worrisome in the Florida State lineup.

Game two of the series is slated for a 6 PM start and will see Tyler Holton (6-2, 3.03 ERA) go for FSU on the mound against Wake’s Donnie Sellers (3-4, 4.23).