Florida State fell to Niagara 3-1 on Friday night.
The Seminoles started the Mike Martin Jr. era as poorly as possible. The offense was stagnant all night, and the bullpen fell apart in the ninth aided by some poor management. Florida State’s only three hits never left the infield, and two were bunts. This was as bad as opening night could’ve gone for Florida State.
- CJ Van Eyk got off his 2020 season off to a good start. The junior went five innings, giving up just two hits and a walk, while striking out eight batters. Van Eyk worked 93-95 MPH and topped out at 97 with the fastball, while using his new slider as his main off-speed pitch. He used a 4-seam, 2-seam, slider, changeup, and curveball on the night. He showed his ability to miss bats when he needs to, striking out a batter with a man on third and one out. The RHP was also efficient on the night, throwing just 71 pitches in five innings. Most impressively, he ended back-to-back innings with lightning-quick pickoff moves. His athletic ability may be his best tool on the mound.
- Antonio Velez came out of the Seminoles’ pen and absolutely dealt on Friday night. The senior struck out the first five batters he faced while working back-to-back 1-2-3 innings. Velez was making both lefty and righty hitters look silly with his high fastball-slurve mix. He also worked efficient and in the zone, throwing just 23 pitches and 17 strikes in two innings of work. Chase Haney also worked efficiently out of the pen, posting a 1-2-3 inning on just six pitches, while striking out one.
- Tyler Martin showed why he can be effective in the leadoff spot for the ’Noles tonight. Martin led off the game with a leadoff walk, after working the count full. He then moved up to second on an aggressive dirt-ball read. In his second PA, the freshman laid down a perfect bunt, which led to the Seminoles’ first hit of the night and loaded the bases with no outs. Martin was the only ’Nole to score on the night, after an errant pick off throw.
- Reese Albert dropped a routine fly ball that led to a Niagara baserunner getting to third with one out in the second inning. The fly ball was as easy of an out as a pitcher can induce. Albert went up with just his glove and looked to take his eyes off the ball before it just popped out of his glove. With nobody on base, there was no reason for him to be looking away from the ball or rushing the catch. FSU cannot have this lazy play from their everyday center fielder the rest of the season. Make the easy things look easy.
- Early in the game, FSU’s situational hitting was horrid. Tyler Martin led off the first with a walk before moving up to second on a wild pitch, putting a RISP with no outs. Matheu Nelson, Albert, and Elijah Cabell followed up with three straight strikeouts. When you get a runner on second with no outs, you have to put the ball in play and he has to score. After two walks and a bunt single, Florida State loaded the bases with no outs in the third inning with the heart of its order coming up. FSU scored no runs after a Nelson grounder to third and an unassisted double play by the shortstop on a weak ground ball off the bat of Albert. When a force out is in play with a runner on third and less than two outs, FSU has to get the ball up in the air to the outfield. The situational hitting needs to show up quick and often for Florida State.
- Cabell didn’t show any improvement from his 2019 strike out issues. The cleanup hitter went 0-4 with four strikeouts on the night and didn’t put much of a fight up at the plate. He has to start putting the ball in play at a more consistent rate or else the potential and tools will be all-for-not. Albert also struggled to put the ball in play, as he looked off with his timing. After missing all of fall, the junior looks like he may be a bit behind everyone else in the box. He’s just been late on fastballs and not able to get the bat head around. It may take the junior a few games to really get the timing back after two Ks on opening night. If FSU wants to have quality offensive production this season, those guys have to get it going quick. As a team, the Seminoles struck out 14 times and didn’t have a single hit leave the infield grass on Friday night.
- Bonus one (on the first night of the season! Boy that’s exciting): The Seminoles fell apart in the last inning on the mound. Much of the falling out had to do with the management of the pen. The inning started with a freshman making his first ever appearance in a one-run game in the ninth, before a LHP was left in to face a RHH with 2 RHPs warming, and a pitcher with command-issues was brought in with the bases loaded.