No. 7 Florida State defeated No. 22 UCF Wednesday night at home 13-3 to win the midweek series and hopefully give the ‘Noles a boost of confidence after two weeks of not so stellar play.
- Strong bullpen performances in high-leverage situations. With one out in the third inning, Clayton Kwiatkowski relieved starter C.J. Van Eyk. He entered with a one-run lead, and the bases-loaded. The sophomore allowed minimal damage, as the first batter faced flied out, allowing the runner from third to tag up and score, tying the game. With runners now at the corners Kwiatkowski managed to turn a double play after a botched double steal attempt on behalf of the Knights. Jonah Scolaro one-upped the performance of Kwiatkowski by pitching on short notice in an extremely high-leverage situation, shutting down the potent Central Florida offense. Protecting a four-run lead in the 7th inning, the freshman entered with the bases loaded and no outs. He proceeded to strikeout UCF’s fourth, fifth and sixth hitters, all looking. He now has 21 strikeouts in 16.1 innings pitched this season.
- Nick Derr started just three of the first sixteen games this season. In those games he had just 3 hits in 19 at-bats (which obviously isn’t ideal), but he maintained a good eye, reaching base 11 more times via BB/HBP. With Rafael Bournigal struggling to keep his spot at second base, Derr was given a shot to start last weekend against Notre Dame, and he’s been arguably the ’Noles best hitter the past two weeks. Since being inserted into the starting lineup, Derr’s gone 9 for 20 with 3 walks, 2 doubles, 3 homeruns, 6 runs scored and 9 runs driven in. And he’s the only hitter this season to show promise in the leadoff role, as well.
- The Seminole bats were resilient all game, after allowing two runs in the top of the first Florida State countered with three runs of their own. The Knights scored a run, tying the game in the top of the fourth, and, once again, the ’Noles bounced back with a run in the bottom half to regain the lead. From there, the Seminoles poured it on, scoring three runs in the 6th, four runs in the 7th, and another two runs in the 8th to put the game away.
- The highly anticipated first start for C.J. Van Eyk was disappointing. The freshman has dynamic stuff, but given his limited appearances he has not been able to master his control. The encouraging part of his start was that he allowed only three hits, a first inning double that plated two runs (after consecutive walks), and two singles in the third (one being a bunt). He missed quite a few bats on the night, but he hurt himself with 4 free passes.
- Unfortunately, Rafael Bournigal’s playing his way out of the lineup for the ’Noles. With the resurgence of Derr and Bournigal’s struggles (.174 avg and .620 OPS entering Wednesday), Mike Martin cannot keep him in the lineup. The graduate transfer from Belmont was 1 for 4 on the night leaving five runners stranded, including a bases-loaded strikeout with only 1 out in a one-run game in the 5th.
- Head coach Mike Martin must keep mistaking Gage Hutchinson with former all-star reliever and Seminole great Gage Smith. The redshirt junior transfer has been inconsistent to say the least dating back to the beginning of March. In his past four appearances he has allowed six earned runs on 10 hits over 4.1 innings, which includes a shaky appearance yesterday against the Knights. In an attempt to possibly help the struggling pitcher gain some confidence he entered tonight’s game with an eight-run lead. The right-handed reliever was erratic and struggled with command, as he hit a batter and allowed a single before finally recording the third out in the 8th. As a reward for his struggles, “11” allowed Hutchinson to hit for himself in the bottom of the 8th inning, seemingly assuring he would pitch the top of the 9th inning, as well. Hutchinson did in-fact pitch, recording the final three outs, but not before hitting another batter and issuing a walk. Tonight was a perfect opportunity for young, talented arms such as Shane Drohan and Tyler Ahearn to throw, but they didn’t, which, unfortunately, should come as no surprise
FSU improves to 18-4 overall with this win, including a sparkling 16-1 mark at home. The Seminoles travel to Chapel Hill this weekend to face the Tar Heels.