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No. 17 Florida State baseball at. No. 7 Louisville: Series preview, how-to-watch, game thread

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Large test looms in Louisville for the ‘Noles.

FSU sports information

Florida State baseball (15-10, 10-8 ACC) will travel north for the biggest series of the season this weekend. The ‘Noles will face off with the top-10 Louisville Cardinals (18-9, 10-4 ACC) in a clash of ACC powers. Head coach Dan McDonnell has built a power house program at Louisville. Since taking over in 2007, the Cardinals lead college baseball with 636 wins. FSU is fourth in wins since 2007 with 621.

At the plate, the Seminoles have had a bit of an up-and-down season. The ‘Noles are second in the ACC in walks and first with 36 homers. FSU’s 166 runs are fifth in the conference and 66th in the nation. As a team, the ‘Noles have posted a .245 average, .363 on-base percentage, and a .416 slugging percentage. Matheu Nelson is third in the country with 11 homers and 14th with 33 RBI. Tyler Martin is top fifty in the country in walks, OBP, and runs.

On the mound, no team has been better than Florida State. The Seminoles are first in the conference with a 3.07 ERA, 6.76 H/9, three shutouts, 11.8 K/9, and 1.17 WHIP. The K/9, H/9, and ERA are all top ten in the country. Teams have posted an average of .205 against FSU pitchers. In the field, the ‘Noles hold a .971 fielding percentage.

It’s tough to find a lineup in the country better than the Cardinals’ 1-9. Louisville is second In the conference with a .296 average. Seven of the starting nine are hitting at least .289. They’re first in the conference in runs by 16. Louisville leads the conference with a .393 OBP. The Cards love to put pressure on teams and they do it at a high rate. Louisville leads the conference and is second in the country with 76 stolen bases. FSU hasn’t had 76 stolen bases in a season since 2011.

On the mound, Louisville hasn’t been as good as usual this year, but still present lots of talent on the bump. The Cardinals lost all three weekend starters to the draft last year and have had lots of shuffling in the staff. UL has a team ERA of 4.36 and allowed a .239 average against. Louisville’s biggest weakness has been their defense. UL is 12th in the conference with a .963 FLD%.

FSU is 28-9 in their history against the Cardinals. The Seminoles are also 7-4 at Louisville. The last time they met, the Cards took two of three in Louisville.

Friday 4/9, 6:00 PM

Probable Starters: LHP Parker Messick (2.52 ERA, 39.1 IP) vs. LHP Michael Kirian (2.12 ERA, 34.0 IP)

How to watch: ACC Network

Friday night’s game could present one of the best pitching matchups in the country. Parker Messick has been as good as any ace this season. The southpaw is fourth in the country with 63 strikeouts. Since his first outing, a clunker against UNF, Messick has been lights out. In ACC play, the second-year freshman has posted a 1.46 ERA in 37 innings. He’s allowed a .167 average against ACC teams. The Plant City native has thrown at least five innings in each of his last six starts. Messick is working on a three-game streak of double digit strikeouts and is yet to give up more than 2 ER in ACC play. With Messick on the mound, FSU should have a chance at a G1 win.

Michael Kirian was a lights out bullpen arm for his first three years at UL. This year, he made the move to the ace role for McDonell and has made an easy transition. Kirian is a massive left-handed pitcher. The fourth-year junior stands 6’6 and 260 pounds. The southpaw will sit 90-93 with a fastball. He has two above average off-speed pitches with a low 80’s slider and 81-84 MPH CH. In 34 innings, he’s posted a 2.12 ERA and a .203 average against. The southpaw has struck out 40 and walked 16. Louisville has yet to lose a game when Kirian is on the mound.

Saturday 4/10, 1:00 PM

Probable Starters: LHP Bryce Hubbart (4.13 ERA, 28.1 IP) vs. LHP Luke Seed (1.50 ERA, 24.0 IP)

How to watch: ACC Network Extra

Sunday 4/11, 4:00 PM

Probable Starters: RHP Conor Grady (3.34 ERA, 35.0 IP) vs. RHP Luke Smith (4.74 ERA, 24.2 IP)

How to watch: ESPNU

UL top performers

  • Henry Davis is one of the best catchers in the country. Davis has been dominant in every way this season. The catcher is hitting .390 with a .496 on-base percentage. He’s smashed eight homers and seven doubles to post a .700 slugging percentage. Davis has 13 more free passes than strikeouts and has also stolen eight bases in nine attempts. Davis has thrown out 9 of 18 attempted steals. He’s second in the conference with 32 RBI.
  • Cameron Masterman has been a constant producer in the Louisville lineup. The junior is a career .300 hitter and is currently hitting .326 on the season. He’s seen an uptick in power this season, as he came into the season with 2 career homers and already has six in 2021. He also has six doubles and has more free passes than strikeouts.
  • Trey Leonard has been one of the toughest outs in the ACC this season. The junior leads the conference with a .422 batting average. Leonard is another active baserunner, with six stolen bases in seven attempts. He has a .594 slugging percentage and a .465 on-base percentage. Leonard also has five doubles and two homers.

We’ll update this article with FSU’s lineup when it becomes available.

UPDATE, 5:30 PM

Dylan Simmons is back in the FSU lineup at the DH spot in place of Wyatt Crowell. Simmons and Crowell could platoon moving forward.

Sunday Golds: A Florida State Baseball Podcast’s preview of the weekend, ft. a recap of the Jacksonville game:

First pitch of game one is scheduled for 6:00 PM from Louisville. 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).