Florida State (42-17) gave themselves ample opportunities against Clemson, but struggled to cash in. However, FSU didn’t quit and finally broke through in the top of the 9th with a 2-out RBI single from Rhett Aplin, scoring Jackson Lueck from second to take the lead for good beating the Tigers 5-4.
- For the 2nd night in a row, FSU got a good outing from their starting pitcher. Cole Sands went 6 innings and although he gave up 4 runs, only 3 were earned. He struck out 11 (career-high), while walking just 2. Sands got into trouble in the 4th with a single, walk and a Chris Williams home run, but proceeded to strike out the next 7 batters. In fact, Sands really only struggled with 2 Clemson players all night. Sands walked Seth Beer twice and gave up 3 hits to Williams (single, double and home run). That’s nothing to be ashamed of, as those are two of the better hitters in the country.
- When Sands finally wore down, freshman phenom C.J. Van Eyk (7-0) came in and performed admirably. While he struggled to find the strike zone with his offspeed offerings, his fastball was almost unhittable. Van Eyk showed why he was so highly recruited coming out of high school by spotting his low-to-mid-90’s fastball on his way to 5 strike outs in 3 innings. He did pair that with 4 walks, 1 with the bases loaded, but his ability to fight through and finish the game is impressive for a freshman, especially one who has bounced between the bullpen and rotation all season.
- Walks and extra base hits are a good combination. Florida State tallied 7 walks, and 4 of their 7 hits went for extra bases. Batting average is a good looking stat, but trying to string together enough singles to score a run is not a consistently good strategy for scoring runs. Drew Mendoza started off the scoring with a 2-run home run in the 2nd, while Lueck tied the game in the 8th on a solo home run, before scoring the go ahead run in the 9th after a 2-out walk and stolen base.
- The Seminoles had ample opportunities to put this game away early, but poor situational hitting kept Clemson alive. Rafael Bournigal led off the 3rd with a double, but a Mike Salvatore bunt and back-to-back strike outs by Lueck and Aplin ended the inning. The next inning saw Steven Wells lace a 1-out double down the left field line, but, once again, back-to-back strike outs ended the threat. After Lueck’s HR to start the 8th, Florida State loaded the bases with nobody out, but the ’Noles left everyone stranded after back-to-back strike outs by Mendoza and Reese Albert, and a weak ground out from J.C. Flowers. The Seminoles were just 3-17 with runners on base, and an anemic 1-11 with runners in scoring position. The offense wasn’t terrible, but too often Florida State batters tried to do too much with runners on base, as opposed to focusing on productive at-bats.
- Seminole pitchers managed 16 strike outs on the day, which is amazing. Unfortunately, they balanced that out with 6 walks and a hit batter. 4 of the free passes came from Van Eyk, with 3 of them in the inning in which he walked in the go-ahead run.
- FSU wasn’t terrible in the field, but in the 7th inning after tying up the game, Bournigal dropped a line drive to start the inning. That run would go on to score and give Clemson the lead late in the game. Errors are always bad, but this was a pretty simple play that should have been made. We’ve mentioned it many times this season (including last night), but this team gives away far too many outs defensively.
Up next for Florida State is a matchup with Louisville, the fourth straight appearance in the ACC championship game for the ’Noles. First pitch is scheduled for 12 pm, and the Seminoles will look to get back-to-back titles in the ACC tournament for the first time.