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Short season still meaningful for FSU baseball

Mike Martin Jr. has program headed in right direction.

Brett Nevitt

Florida State’s Baseball season is almost certainly over due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak. The Seminoles were just 17 games into the season with a 12-5 record. Despite the length of the season, FSU did many things to excite fans for the future of Mike Martin Jr.’s program. Junior is not his father and does not approach the game like 11 did.

Meat pushes the envelope, throws young pitchers in high-leverage situations, and puts his team in tight situations early in the season. Let’s take a look back at the short 2020 season.

The Seminoles got off to the worst start possible, and the “#FireMeat” people quickly introduced themselves as FSU suffered an opening night loss to Niagara. Despite the loss, Jr. showed that he will put freshmen in uncomfortable positions and test them early in their career. It didn’t work in the short-term, as Bryce Hubbart gave up two runs and took the loss in the ninth inning, but Hubbart will likely benefit in the long run.

FSU bounced back in the next two games as they got back to their offensive approach and two freshmen introduced themselves. Dylan Simmons and Tyrell Brewer both got their first career starts in game two and combined for four hits and five RBI in a 24-4 win.

Florida State picked up the series win as Conor Grady threw five scoreless innings and Robby Martin produced three RBI on two doubles.

After the Niagara series win, FSU continued to show they could respond to adversity.

The Seminoles got down 3-0 to USF in their first midweek game, but scored seven unanswered runs to pick up the win. Matheu Nelson unloaded on his first homer of the year, as the ‘Noles took the lead on his three-run bomb, as the new light-show made its debut at Dick Howser Stadium. Parker Messick also introduced himself to FSU fans against his hometown Bulls, throwing 2.2 innings of scoreless ball.

The comeback kids continued their hot streak as they swept Cincinnati, including two come-from-behind wins. Elijah Cabell broke out and began to show his superstar potential. In game one, the sophomore unloaded on a three-run bomb to give the ‘Noles the lead in the sixth.

On Saturday, Cabell once again unloaded on a sixth-inning three run homer that cleared the flag pole in center field.

He finished off the weekend with an opposite-field, 429-foot grand slam. The HR was the Seminoles’ first hit of the game, but gave the ‘Noles an 8-1 lead (yes, you read that right).

The Seminoles opened up their big four-game weekend with two wins over FAU to up their win-streak to eight. Once again, the wins were comeback victories. In game one, CJ Van Eyk (six IP), Chase Haney (one IP), and Antonio Velez (two IP) combined to give up just one run and one hit.

Jack Anderson broke out in game two, throwing a career high 4.2 innings and giving up just one unearned run. The Seminoles broke out for 16 runs and 14 hits, as Martin and Jackson Greene combined for seven RBI.

The Seminoles dropped their next two games to a top-five ranked Texas Tech squad. The Seminoles dropped both games by one run, as the winning run in both games were unearned.

After FSU earned a 5-1 lead, Texas Tech battled back on a three-run double and a solo-homer, before an error brought in the winning run. Messick showed that he has an ability to pitch in the biggest moments of any game, even as a freshman. Despite picking up the loss, Messick went 3.1 innings, giving up just one run and striking out five against some of the best bats in the country.

In game two against the Red Raiders, Cabell gave the Seminoles a fifth inning lead with another three-run homer, but an error and solo home run bit the ‘Noles again. Despite the losses, FSU showed that they could compete with any team in the country and take home wins if they could just get average defense.

The Seminoles bounced back in a back-and-forth game against Mercer. The ‘Noles handed the Bears their first loss of the season after being down three with five outs left to play. Early-enrollee Tyler Martin continued his hot start to the season with a walk-off single.

The Seminoles started ACC-play on the road against a top-15 Duke squad and ran into a superstar pitcher. Bryce Jarvis shut the ‘Noles down with seven scoreless innings in game one, but Van Eyk kept the Seminoles in the game with a stellar outing of his own.

In what will likely go down as his last appearance as a ‘Nole, Van Eyk threw six innings of one-run ball, striking out six and giving up just three hits. Once again, FSU dropped a one-run game on an unearned run.

In game two, FSU stranded 15 men in a one-run loss. Florida State responded in game three, with a 10-2 beatdown behind Reese Albert, Logan Lacey, and Cabell’s homers. Cabell capped off the weekend with his second grand slam of the season. Anderson picked up his second win of the season, throwing 3.2 scoreless innings. Despite dropping the series, FSU outscored the Blue Devils by six.

The moment of the season was produced by Antonio Velez and Messick in Gainesville. FSU ended their 11-game losing streak to UF and handed Florida their first loss of the season with a shutout. Velez worked six scoreless innings, as he struck out seven and gave up just one hit. Messick closed out the win with three scoreless innings and seven strikeouts. It was the first game of the season that FSU didn’t commit an error. They showed what they can do when they play good defense behind their stellar pitching staff, as they took down the top-ranked team in the country.

This will go down as the last game ever played at Florida’s Alfred McKethan Stadium, as the Gators get a new stadium next season.

After a slow start to the season, Albert broke out with two homers in what could end up being his last game as a Seminole.

For the second straight game, the ‘Noles didn’t commit an error. After a three-hit game in Gainesville, Simmons came through with the game-winning two-run single off the RF wall.

This season came to an end as Florida State was just starting to show their potential.

The pitching staff had Omaha written all over it. The lineup had too much swing-and-miss, but could get away with it with some productive outs and timely homers. The defense simply wasn’t good, but it was getting better with more reps. If FSU played average defense and made the routine plays, they were going to make a lot of noise this season. The 40-win streak will likely have an asterisk next to the 2020 season.