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3 up, 3 down: Raleigh’s 4 RBI, Johnson’s 6 K keep FSU baseball perfect

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Seminoles do something they haven’t done all season on Friday.

NCAA Baseball: Troy at Florida State Joe Rondone-USA TODAY Sports

Making his second Friday-night start of the season, junior Cole Sands (3-0; 2.57) took the mound for Florida State against UNC-Asheville. The Bulldogs countered with Jordan Fulbright (0-3; 10.93), a senior who, after tonight, has allowed 12 earned runs in 11 innings of work.

Three up:

  • Cooper Swanson, after his first start of the season, has a solid case for additional playing time. He entered with a 2-for-2 batting line and finished the game with an RBI and two runs scored after going 1-for-1 with three walks.
  • Reliever Cobi Johnson is quietly becoming the best bullpen option for head coach Mike Martin. The senior has appeared in four games, striking out 16 hitters in just six innings. All but two of his recorded outs (1 groundout, 1 flyout) have come via strikeout. He doesn’t officially qualify (must have 1 IP per team game), but if he did he would lead the NCAA with a 24.0 K/9 rate. Navy starter Noah Song leads all of Division I with his 20.45 K/9.
  • The Seminoles benefitted from eight two-out RBI’s on Friday night. Prior to tonight they had not recorded any. Six of the nine hits for FSU were for extra bases, including two off the bat of Drew Mendoza who finished 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. He raised his batting batting average by .54 points. Cal Raleigh finished with four RBI — a home run away from the cycle.

Three down:

  • The first inning was once again an issue for Sands. After allowing two runs — on a double and two singles — to the first three Xavier Musketeers he faced on February 17, he surrendered a lead-off single to Troy’s Matt Sanders in his second start of the season. On Friday night, UNC Asheville started the game with a walk and a double en route to an early 1-0 lead. Sands has allowed four earned runs on the season — three of them in the first inning.
  • Since Sands was only able to go five innings, the Seminoles were forced to get 12 outs from the bullpen. The pitching staff, as a whole, has been marvelous so far this season. However, with eight games in the next 10 days, bullpen management and starting pitching efficiency will be critical. Johnson went two innings before turning it over to Tyler Ahearn for the final six outs.
  • With two runners on base, and nine runs already on the board, the ’Noles were unable to provide the fans with a free meal. During all games at Dick Howser stadium, fans in attendance receive free Chick-fil-A whenever the home team scores 10 runs or more. It became clear that many of the fans were sticking around simply to see if it would happen. Seats started to empty in a hurry after Nick Derr grounded out to end the eighth inning.

Up Next:

Drew Parrish (1-0; 1.59) gets the ball for Florida State tomorrow at 6pm in Tallahassee. The ’Noles are looking to make it 10 straight wins to start the 2018 season.