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3 up, 3 down: Shutout from Tyler Holton leads FSU to win over Wake

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Florida State starter Tyler Holton was exceptional in shutting down a potent WF lineup on Saturday

Tyler Holton
Larry Novey

The Florida State baseball team entered Saturday in desperate need of a win against No. 21 Wake Forest. As he has so many times this season, Tyler Holton was willing and able to provide just that lift.

Holton put together what must be considered his best start of the season and the Florida State batters scored enough early runs to push Saturday’s earlier loss into the back of their heads while coasting to a 4-0 win over the Demon Deacons in Saturday’s nightcap.

3 up

1. At a certain point, it comes across as a broken record to continuously say the same things about a player after every outing. For some people, though, the performances warrant the repetitive write-ups.

Stop me if you have heard this one before: FSU starting pitcher Tyler Holton positively dealt in his performance on the hill on Saturday.

The sophomore set a new career-high in innings, going the distance for his first career complete game shutout while striking out nine and allowing just four hits, all singles, and walking none.

Holton has put together a number of impressive starts against exceptional competition this season, but this was his most complete and his most consistent.

What makes this that much more impressive is the competition level. He shut down a Wake Forest offense that averaged 8.1 runs, most in the nation, and 11.3 hits per game entering Saturday.

Paired with the bullpen in the conclusion of the first game, FSU allowed no runs over 13 innings in the two games against Wake Forest on Saturday.

I think Mike Martin said it best when he told the media after the game, “(Tyler Holton) is a baseball player and thank God he is on my team.”

2. After an underwhelming offensive performance in the final innings of the 4-3 loss to Wake in the opener, Florida State wasted little time getting on the board in the nightcap.

In fact, FSU plated three runs before Wake Forest even recorded a run in the first inning.

Quincy Nieporte led the way as his two-run double was the highlight of the FSU first inning which accounted for all the runs scored in the entire game. He now has a team-high 61 RBI on the season.

Jackson Lueck added an RBI as well, but the only member of the Seminoles’ lineup with more than one hit was freshman first baseman Drew Mendoza, who bounced back from a poor showing in game one to go 2-3 with an RBI and a walk in game two.

3. Once again, Florida State was errorless in Saturday’s big win over the Demon Deacons. The flawless defensive performance, which was originally not so until a Matt Henderson throwing error was changed to a hit, is FSU’s fourth straight and the counter of innings without an FSU error is up to 42.

3 down

1. For as strong as that first inning was for FSU, the offense really let off the gas from there.

FSU had four hits in the first inning. Over the next seven innings, the Seminoles had only one hit.

The top of the order was especially down. Taylor Walls and Dylan Busby, the 1 and 2 hitters in the lineup, were a combined 0-6 in Saturday’s second game with two strikeouts. Granted, they both walked once and plated a run. But still, the lack of production from some of FSU’s veteran hitters in key parts of the lineup could be devastating on a different day.

2. In struggling to find another down, I had to get picky. I settled on the fact that FSU was 1-9 when batting with two outs. This inability to extend innings was not a problem today thanks to FSU’s ability to score early and the performance of a lifetime from Holton. Still, different circumstances could shift how that stat is viewed.

3. Holton, who will likely be in Sunday’s lineup playing right field per FSU head coach Mike Martin, has also emerged as a more-than-serviceable hitter and right fielder since the injury to Rhett Aplin made him unavailable for the remainder of the season.

A drawback from this, though, is that Holton, who may be FSU’s best right fielder, is also FSU’s best pitcher. He has proven able to play in the field the night before and even the day of his start on the mound, but there’s no spot in the lineup for him when he is pitching.

Holton’s bat is very solid, but allowing him to be the designated hitter and knocking Nieporte out of the lineup would be foolish in most situations. In a perfect world, Holton could pitch and bat in the right fielder’s spot in the lineup, but the rules are what they are and one of FSU’s hottest bats goes unused every time he is instead serving as FSU’s best pitcher.

The rubber match of the series against Wake Forest is scheduled to start at 1 PM on Sunday with Drew Parrish (5-2, 4.94 ERA) going up against Wake’s Connor Johnstone (7-0, 3.04).