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No. 17 Florida State baseball vs. Wake Forest: Series preview, how-to-watch, game thread

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‘Noles looking for fourth straight ACC-series win.

FSU sports information

Florida State baseball is as hot as any team in the nation. The ‘Noles have won six straight games and are 8-2 against top-20 competition. Since being swept in their first ACC series, the ‘Noles have won their last three, including a dominant sweep of the Miami Hurricanes last weekend. The Seminoles are coming off a midweek, walk-off win over the UCF Knights. Florida State didn’t have their best night on Wednesday, but were able to persevere to keep their win streak alive. The ‘Noles welcome Wake Forest to town this weekend, looking for their fourth straight ACC series win.

Heading into the weekend, the Seminoles have many individual standouts in the national rankings. Matheu NelsonA blasted his eighth home run of the season, good for sixth in the nation, on Wednesday. He’s averaging a homer every other game, good for eighth in the nation. He’s also 22nd with 24 RBI and 30th in the country with a .780 slugging percentage. Robby Martin is 12th in the country with 26 RBI. Tyler Martin is 33rd in OBP (.553), 23rd in runs (23), and 39th in walks (16).

As a whole, the offense is hitting .254. FSU has 32nd most homers as a team with 22 bombs. The ‘Noles have a team on-base percentage of .370 and a .409 slugging percentage. In the field, the ‘Noles have posted a .971 fielding percentage.

On the mound, FSU’s numbers are as good as it gets. The Seminoles are first in the ACC in ERA, hits allowed per nine, WHIP, strikeouts per nine, and shutouts. FSU’s 12.1 K/9 is 12th in the nation. Florida State’s 2.81 ERA is also 12th in the country. Their 6.59 H/9 is 10th. In ACC play, the ‘Noles have allowed an opponents batting average of .188.

The Demon Deacons have gotten off to a slow start. They’ve lost all three of their ACC series and are 6-8 on the year. Wake Forest, usually known as Rake Forest, has really struggled at the plate so far this year. As a team, they’re hitting just .220, dead last in the ACC, and reaching base 32.8% of the time. They’re still hitting for power, with one homer per game. They’ve struggled in the field with a .960 fielding percentage. Wake also has the least amount of stolen bases in the conference with just six in nine attempts.

WF has been decent on the mound this year. They have a 4.11 ERA and have allowed a .232 average against. They don’t have much depth, as just six relievers have thrown six-plus innings, but the talent is there. They’ve struck out over 11 batters per nine.

FSU is 91-31 all time against WF.

Friday 3/26, 6:00 PM

Probable Starters: RHP Ryan Cusick (3.63 ERA, 17.1 IP) vs. LHP Parker Messick (3.00 ERA, 27.0 IP)

How to watch: ACC Network Extra

Since a clunker on opening day, Parker Messick has been as dominant as can be on the mound. In his last four starts, the southpaw has posted a 1.46 ERA, allowing four ER in 24.2 innings of work. He’s allowed a .172 average against. He’s also struck out 37 batters in that span, and is second in the conference with 40 on the season. He’s shown some of his best stuff, but has also shown the ability to battle and gut out innings when he doesn’t have it. Messick’s bulldog mentality makes him one of the best starters in the entire conference. Look for him to provide the energy for FSU again tonight.

Ryan Cusick is one of the top draft prospects on the mound this season. Cusick is a true fireballer for the Deacons. The right-handed pitcher can run his fastball into the high-90’s and sit in the mid-90’s. The power shows off for Cusick in his strikeout numbers, as he’s K’d 31 batters in 17.1 IP. He’s allowed a .219 average against and has a 3.63 ERA through three starts. FSU’s hitters will have to be ready to swing, or the 6’6, 235-pound Cusick will blow them away. The third-year sophomore was a preseason All-American and will give Wake a chance to win every Friday.

Saturday 3/27, 2:00 PM

Probable Starters: RHP William Fleming (4.38 ERA, 24.2 IP) vs. LHP Bryce Hubbart (2.08 ERA, 21.2 IP)

How to watch: ACC Network Extra

Sunday 3/28, 1:00 PM

Probable Starters: RHP Rhett Lowder (5.59 ERA, 19.1 IP) vs. RHP Conor Grady (4.22 ERA, 26.1 IP)

How to watch: ACC Network Extra

WF top performers

  • Bobby Seymour hasn’t shown it yet this year, but he can be a dominant force at the plate. The first baseman was the ACC player of the Year in 2019 and a First-Team All-American heading into the year. So far this year, he’s hitting .240 with a .387 SLG% and .380 OBP%. He’s only slugged one homer. In 2019, he had six hits in four games against FSU, including a six-RBI game. For the season, he hit .377 with a .576 SLG%. Seymour is the main piece in Wake’s offense, which is currently a sleeping beast.
  • Chris Lanzilli is another former First Team All-ACC player that hasn’t turned it on yet this season. Through 14 games, he’s hitting .233. Half of his hits have gone for extra bases, as he has four doubles and three homers. He’s a free swinger with a 17-3 K to walk ratio and his OBP sits at .270. In 2019, he had a two homer hit against FSU and also had six hits in four games. For the season, he hit .347 with 16 homers and a .620 SLG%.
  • Brock Wilken has led the way so far in his true freshman season. Out of the Tampa area, Wilken was a top-100 recruit and has shown why so far. The massive third baseman, standing at 6’4 and 225 pounds, leads WF with a .273 average and four homers. He’s posted a .564 slugging percentage in the first 14 games of his collegiate career. Wilken’s only struggles have been in the field, where he’s posted a .912 FLD%.

Sunday Golds: A Florida State Baseball Podcast’s preview of the weekend, ft. a recap of the UCF game and an interview with FSU pitching coach Jimmy Belanger:

First pitch of game one is scheduled for 6:00 PM from Dick Howser. The game will be broadcasted on ACC Network extra. We will have updates in the game thread below, and I’ll have updates on my twitter as well (@brettpn).