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3 up, 3 down: FSU comes back twice to knock off No. 2 Louisville

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The Seminoles put up the most runs the Cardinals have allowed this season to set up the huge win.

Dylan Busby
Larry Novey

The Florida State baseball team entered its weekend series at No. 2 Louisville in desperate need of wins to pad its resume. The Seminoles got just that in Thursday’s opener as they came back twice from early deficits before dropping 12 runs on the Cardinals, the most they have allowed this season, en route to a 12-9 win on the road which goes a long way towards securing FSU’s spot in the NCAA Tournament.

3 up

1. The Florida State offense had perhaps its most impressive performance of the season in Thursday’s opener in Louisville. The Seminoles put up seven runs over the first five innings at the plate against the probable ACC Pitcher of the Year, Brendan McKay, severely denting his ERA while he surrendered a career-high seven runs.

Quincy Nieporte was a major part of that offensive surge. He followed up his 5-5 career day in the finale against Wake Forest on Sunday with a three-double performance which saw him knock in five runs and plate two runs.

Dylan Busby also came up big, going 4-5 with a two-run homer late to extend FSU’s lead and a pair of runs.

In all honesty though, FSU’s success truly extended throughout the top half of the lineup. The Seminoles’ 1-5 hitters in the lineup went a combined 12-22 (.545) with two homers, 10 RBI, 11 runs, and three walks. That will win you a lot of games.

2. Florida State’s bullpen, inconsistent at times this season, was at its best in the opener against the Cardinals.

Over a combined five innings of work, Jim Voyles, Alec Byrd, and Drew Carlton allowed two runs, one earned, walking one and striking out four. After entering in a game tied at 7 in the bottom of the fifth, the FSU relievers put together a dominant effort against a talented lineup and were rewarded for it as Voyles was the winning pitcher, improving to 4-0 on the year, and Carlton notched his fifth save of the season.

3. It’s hard to put into words how much Thursday’s win helps FSU’s NCAA Tournament odds.

Had the Seminoles gone 0-5 over the Louisville series and ACC Tournament, they would have been squarely on the fence entering Selection Sunday. A win in the first of those five games is a great help towards cementing their status and another win either Saturday or Sunday all but assures it. It may be difficult to project a win in either of those games right now, but the same could have been said of Friday’s game.

3 down

1. FSU starting pitcher Cole Sands handled the stacked Louisville lineup about as well as you would expect him to given how his season has played out.

The sophomore went four innings, again failing to go far enough into the game to become the pitcher of record. Over those four innings, he allowed seven runs, all earned, on six hits, two of which were three-runs homers.

His earned run average now sits at 5.82 entering next week’s ACC Tournament. For a Friday starter to have an ERA that bad is somewhat astounding.

2. The bottom of the FSU lineup was the one weak spot from an otherwise stellar offensive showing.

FSU’s seven, eight and nine spots in the lineup (Drew Mendoza, Matt Henderson, and J.C. Flowers) were a combined 1-14 (.071) with a double, four strikeouts and a walk. For Florida State to have as much success as it did at the plate with one-third of the lineup so glaringly weak, that’s an even stronger testament to how successful the top of the Seminoles’ batting order was on Friday.

3. Florida State’s first error in 57 innings, committed in the seventh inning of FSU’s win over UL, was not costly, but could very well have been an extremely bad error in the grand scheme of the game.

With a runner on second in the seventh inning, FSU first baseman Drew Mendoza seemingly lost a pop-up in the lights, drifting into foul territory before returning into fair ground where the ball bounced off his glove near the ground. The error only led to one unearned run, but it was a potentially big moment which the Cardinals were not able to take full advantage of.

The win improves FSU to 34-20 (13-14) on the year. Game two of the series is set for a 6 PM start on Friday with FSU ace Tyler Holton (7-2, 2.69 ERA) going up against UL’s Kade McClure (7-1, 3.27).