Florida State baseball will look to ride their momentum from a series win in Blacksburg into a rivalry matchup with the Florida Gators tonight. The Seminoles have won two straight ACC series against the Virginia Cavaliers and Virginia Tech Hokies. FSU is coming off their best offensive performance of the season after posting a season-high 18 hits against the Hokies in a dominant rubber match win.
The Seminoles snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Gators last season. Antonio Velez and Parker Messick combined for nine-shutout innings. It was the last game ever played at Florida’s Alfred A. Mckethan Stadium, as the season came to a halt two days later.
The Gators, as usual, come to Tallahassee with a loaded roster. UF is currently ranked the fifth best team in the country and hold a 13-4 record, but are 1-3 against ranked opponents. Florida is a balanced team, but the strength lies at the plate. UF is hitting .303 as a team and have six starters hitting over .300. They’re also slugging .495 as a team. On the mound, the Gators possess a 3.36 ERA. UF will attack the zone at a high rate, walking just 3.24 hitters per nine. They also stay away from hard contact, allowing a .217 average against this season.
Here are today’s probables:
Tuesday 3/16, 7:00 PM
Probable Starters: RHP Garrett Milchin (2.00 ERA, 9.0 IP) vs. RHP Carson Montgomery (0.00 ERA, 5.0 IP)
How to watch: ACC Network
Carson Montgomery will make the Seminoles’ first midweek start of the year. The heralded freshman opened the season as a weekend starter, but struggled with command and efficiency in two starts as Bryce Hubbart replaced him in the rotation. It’s been 17 days since Montgomery stepped foot on the rubber in game, but he’s thrown extended innings in two live scrimmages. The key for the freshman will be finding consistency with his release point. Against a powerful UF lineup, he’ll have to have all four of his pitches working. Montgomery has used a 93-96 MPH fastball, low-80’s slider, high-80’s cutter, and high-80’s changeup in short action this year. Montgomery has the stuff to neutralize one of the best lineups in the country, but he’ll have to be consistent and in command from pitch one.
Garrett Milchin returned to the mound this year after missing three seasons due to Tommy John surgery. The big righty has gotten off to a good start this year as the Gators’ midweek starter. Milchin is an imposing presence on the bump, standing at 6’5.” Milchin has attacked the strike zone at a high rate, walking just one batter through nine innings. He’s been prone to contact, giving up 11 hits, but has limited the damage by staying away from the big hit. The redshirt junior has allowed just one extra base hit. FSU will have to attack early in counts and do damage on Milchin’s high-80’s to low 90’s fastball if they want to get off to a good offensive start.
UF top performers
- Nathan Hickey has been a powerful force in the middle of the Gators’ order. The catcher has nine extra base hits and a .629 slugging percentage this year. He’s also posted a .339 batting average. Hickey makes pitchers work at a high rate, with one less free pass than strikeouts. The left-handed hitter leads the Gators with 21 RBI. Behind the plate, FSU could run on Hickey, as he’s yet to throw a base-stealer out this season.
- Jacob Young is one of the best leadoff hitters in the country. The outfielder puts pressure on any defense he faces. Young is hitting .359 through 17 games and has six stolen bases. He also has 10 doubles. The leadoff hitter has reached base in 16 of 17 games and has eight multi-hit games. Young is the energizer bunny for the Gators. Keeping Young off base, an extremely tough test, is the first step to neutralizing UF’s offense.
- Colby Halter has been one of, if not the best freshman in the country this season. The infielder is hitting .345 through the first 15 games of his career. Halter five multi-hit games. He’s second on the Gators with 17 RBI despite hitting in the bottom third of the order for most of the year. He rarely strikes out, as he’s K’d just six times and walked 11 times.
- UF’s top draft prospect, Jud Fabian, is dealing with a hamstring injury and is a game-time decision for the Gators. He didn’t play Sunday against Jacksonville. FSU’s center fielder is also dealing with an injury. Reese Albert will be out for tonight and this upcoming weekend with a concussion, which he sustained Sunday in Blacksburg.
For more on the matchup and a recap of the VT series, make sure to listen to the latest episode of Sunday Golds: A Florida State Baseball Podcast.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 PM from Dick Howser. The game will be broadcasted on ACC Network. We will have updates in the game thread below, and I’ll have updates from the stadium on my twitter as well (@brettpn).