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Three up, three down: FSU baseball drops series opener to UNC behind sloppy play

‘Noles make three errors, produce just four hits.

FSU sports information

No. 18 Florida State baseball dropped their series opener to North Carolina by a score of 4-3 tonight. The loss was FSU’s third straight loss in conference play. It was a sloppy night at Dick Howser Stadium, as both teams made three errors. Florida State made too many self-inflicted errors to win a tight ball game. FSU struck out 16 times while producing just four hits. Caden O’Brien shut the door on the ‘Noles in the ninth inning as he struck out the side in 13 pitches. Florida State couldn’t put the ball in play when it counted, and the pitching staff couldn’t get the big outs late.

Three up

  • For the second straight game, the Seminoles had nothing going through six innings. FSU had just two hits and no runs as UNC’s Austin Love was cruising and the Heels were up 3-0. The ‘Noles quickly got two on by way of an error and a walk and for the second straight game, Elijah Cabell provided the spark for FSU. Cabell lifted off for a three-run jack on a two-strike change-up over the LCF wall. It was Cabell’s fourth straight game with a homer and his fifth of the season. The ball came off his bat at 108 MPH and traveled 444 feet.

This is going to be the formula for FSU baseball this year. It’s not always going to be pretty, but the Seminoles are built around the long ball and the big inning. When the pitchers keep them in games, Florida State will consistently have a chance to win with the power depth in the lineup if they play clean baseball.

  • Parker Messick was dominant with his stuff again tonight. The southpaw was dominant with his fastball inside, and tunneled his plus-changeup off of it to get a high swing-and-miss rate. Messick is starting to show that his changeup is consistently one of the best off-speed pitches in the ACC. He barely had to go to his slider or curveball because of the dominance of the change, which has a true parachuting action to it. When Messick was attacking the zone, he was un-hittable. The Plant City native set a career high with 12 strikeouts. He didn’t allow a hit through his first four innings of work. He was also efficient, throwing just over 15 pitches per inning. Messick also got timely strikeouts when he needed it, stranding two runners in the third and fifth innings. The second-year freshman finished with a 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 12 K, 3 R, 1 ER. His season ERA is down to 2.52.
  • Reese Albert is starting to get back to his old self. The outfielder had two clutch home runs last week, but still entered the weekend with a batting average of just .217. The fourth-year junior upped that average to .238 with a two for three day. In his first at-bat, Albert ripped a fastball up the middle, which bounced off the mound and the shortstop for a single up the middle. Albert singled again in the fourth inning with a bloop single into LF. The Jupiter native also walked in the seventh inning. The left-handed hitter has consistently made hard contact the last few games and seems to be back on track at the plate after a slow start.

Three down

  • Messick was dominant for most of the night, but struggled against the bottom third of the order. The 1-6 in UNC’s order was 0-18 with 12 K’s against Messick. 7-9 in the order were 4-6 with three runs, a walk, a HBP, a double, and a RBI. The southpaw first struggled with the bottom third in the third inning. He walked Mac Horvath, a .100 hitter coming in, on four pitches, before hitting Colby Wilkerson, who was making his second career start, on his sixth straight ball. It didn’t cost him as he bounced back with two quick outs, but it cost him in the 5th. Seven-hitter Johnny Castagnozzi roped a one-out double off the wall, before Horvath followed with a single into LF. Both hits came on 1-0 pitches as he fell behind in the count. Wilkerson came through with a perfect bunt to score the first run of the day. Some of the balls were softly hit and not his fault, but Messick needs to attack 1-9 moving forward, rather than just 1-6.
  • Nander De Sedas made his return to the starting lineup tonight after a two-game absence due to an oblique injury. De Sedas looked uncomfortable and unconfident on the infield. Through his first 18 games, De Sedas had just four errors. Tonight he had two on the only two chances he had. The first came in the sixth inning on a hard hit ball to his backhand, which he fielded cleanly but lost on the transfer. In the next inning, he kicked another ball to his right to lead off the inning. The error led to two unearned runs on a two-out, two-RBI single from Angel Zarate. FSU needs De Sedas to be the 2021, confident version of himself and not resort back to his defensive woes from early in 2020.
  • FSU didn’t get any production from their three and four hitters tonight. Matheu Nelson and Robby Martin had been two of the hottest hitters in Florida State’s lineup, but didn’t have an answer for UNC pitching tonight. The two combined to go 0-8 with five K’s tonight. In the eighth inning of a tie game, a HBP and an infield single put two on with no outs for the Seminoles. Martin failed to get a bunt down and was then struck out. Nelson followed with a strikeout of his own. A third straight strikeout ended the inning and kept the game tied heading to the ninth. FSU needs production from the middle of the order. More importantly, they need productive outs in big situations. Florida State can live with strikeouts at the plate, but they can’t be there at such a high-rate in these big moments.
  • Extra: After Cabell’s homer, Wyatt Crowell dribbled a ball to the pitcher’s mound. Love fielded it cleanly, but made an errant toss to first. Crowell took off for second before sprinting for third base. He was thrown out from right field by a few feet. Instead of having a the go-ahead run on second with no outs, there was no one on base with one out and the game still tied. FSU had too many self-inflicted errors today to win a tight game.
  • Extra 2.0 (not fun): FSU’s bullpen didn’t have their best stuff tonight. In the 7th inning, Davis Hare allowed a two-out, two-RBI single to give UNC a 3-0 lead. In the ninth inning, Chase Haney allowed a leadoff single before inducing a weak pop up. Clayton Kwiatkowski relieved him and immediately threw four straight balls to put two men on with one out. Hunter Perdue relieved him after a fifth straight ball and allowed the go-ahead single to Justice Thompson through the left-side.