Against all odds, the Florida State baseball team continued its late-season tear through the ACC on Friday as the Seminoles took down No. 1 seed Louisville for the third time in a week, this time by a score of 6-2. What went well - and not so well- in FSU’s shocking victory?
1. It seems like on a weekly basis nowadays I am saying in an article that Tyler Holton put together one of his best outings of the year. The same holds true this week as the sophomore starter positively dealt against Louisville for the second straight week in the crucial win over the Cardinals.
Holton went eight innings against UL, allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits. He issued one walk and totaled 10 strikeouts, the fifth time this season he racked up 10+ strikeouts. After Friday’s game, Holton’s earned run average now sits at 2.43.
The tear that Holton is on right now is completely unreal. He has gone eight or more innings in each of his last three starts (Wake Forest and Louisville twice), and has not allowed more than five hits in any of his last six starts.
2. The top of the FSU batting order led the way for the Seminoles’ production at the plate.
Leadoff hitter Taylor Walls, No. 2 hitter Dylan Busby, and three-hole hitter Jackson Lueck each had two hits, accounting for six of FSU’s ten hits between them. Walls and Busby both scored two runs and Lueck had two RBI on a double in the ninth inning which provided some comforting insurance runs.
These three, along with Matt Henderson who added a two-run single, were the catalysts to handing Louisville’s starting pitcher, Cade McClure, his second loss in as many weeks.
3. Drew Carlton, called upon to close out the game with FSU leading 6-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, did exactly what was asked of him in one of his better appearances of late.
The junior closer faced the minimum, retiring UL in order on a popout and a pair of flyouts. If he is able to string together a chain of positive appearances out of the bullpen from this, he takes the FSU bullpen to the next level at a crucial time in the season.
1. FSU’s defense, an overwhelming strength of late, was abysmal against Louisville.
After committing no errors in seven of the last eight games, the Seminoles committed three errors on Friday. Walls, Busby, and catcher Cal Raleigh committed an error each as the fielding dam broke in a big way.
It didn’t prove costly in this instance, but a dip in the team’s fielding level at this point right now would be terrible timing.
2. For as strong as the top of the FSU order was, the bottom two hitters struggled mightily.
Center fielder J.C. Flowers and right fielder Steven Wells Jr., filling in for Holton while he is on the mound, were a combined 0-8 with five strikeouts in the eight and nine spots of the lineup.
3. As a whole, the Florida State lineup had an undesirable strikeout-to-walk ratio against the Cardinals. The Seminoles earned four walks, but also struck out nine times. Now, it must be addressed that this happened against an excellent starting pitcher in McClure as well as one of the best bullpens in the country. That being said, that many strikeouts at the plate is not a recipe for success.
The win moves the eighth-seeded Seminoles into the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, furthering their late charge to be an NCAA Tournament regional host. In the semis, FSU will go up against the ninth-seeded Duke Blue Devils with a trip to the championship game on the line. Should FSU win on Saturday against Duke, it would be the Seminoles’ third consecutive ACC Tournament Championship Game appearance. FSU will throw Cole Sands against the Blue Devils with first pitch set for 1 PM.