Tallahassee, FL - The Florida State baseball team split today’s doubleheader against NC State. The two games could not be any more different. In game one, the Seminoles were drubbed 15-4 as the Wolfpack beat up on FSU’s pitching. While the second game saw FSU jump out to a 3-0 lead, NC State clawed back tying the score 3-3 and sending the game to extras. NC State would take the lead in the 12th off a 2-run blast from Devonte Brown before FSU’s Alex Toral evened the score with a 2-run bomb of his own. The game reached the 17th inning where fans everywhere were relieved to see Jaime Ferrer end the game with a walk-off blast.
The first inning was a microcosm of the entire day for Florida State. A passed ball, a walk, and an error led to FSU being down 1-0. NC State’s Tommy White deposited a 2-run bomb over the fence to extend the lead to 3-0 in the third before FSU scratched a run across in the fourth. But from there, the wheels fell off for Florida State’s defense.
After a leadoff single to start the sixth, NC State laid down four bunts in the inning. The result was in this order: a single, an error on Hubbart, and back-to-back sacrifice bunts for runs. The ‘Pack also added on a third run in the inning from an RBI groundout. FSU scored two in the bottom of the frame pulling within three; but the bullpen faltered over the next two innings allowing nine runs on nine hits, one passed ball, and two walks. FSU scored one run in the ninth for a final score of NC State 15, FSU 4.
After 19 combined runs in game one, Florida State’s Ross Dunn and NC State’s Logan Whitaker started game two off in a pitcher’s duel. Whitaker lasted 3.1 innings but allowed just one hit. Dunn struck out nine over six frames allowing two unearned runs. FSU got on the board first when Brett Roberts connected for a two-run RBI single in the fifth which led to a third run due to an error and heads up baserunning from Jaime Ferrer.
NC State added a run in the sixth, seventh, and eighth as FSU’s defense and bullpen could not hold the lead. Colton Vincent led off the ninth with a leadoff double, but FSU struck out three straight times sending the game to extra innings. Davis Hare struck out seven in relief before handing the ball to Jackson Nezuh. Seeing his first action since Mercer, Nezuh’s outing was a rough one as he allowed a 2-run homerun to give NC State the lead in the 12th. With their backs against the wall, AJ Shaver reached first on an infield single followed by Alex Toral stepping to the plate. The Miami transfer crushed a 2-run jack of his own.
Here’s the game-tying BOMB from Alex Toral:— Tomahawk Nation (@TomahawkNation) March 21, 2022
Davis Hare took over on the mound and pitched his best game of the year. The sophomore tossed 5.1 innings allowing zero runs on four hits and five strikeouts. Wyatt Crowell followed up with his best outing of the season by far throwing 5.1 innings of no run ball scattering four hits and striking out five. The game moved to the 17th where freshman Jaime Ferrer launched a walk-off homerun to clinch the series for Florida State.
Jaime Ferrer’s 17th inning walk-off HR to give No. 8 Florida State a series win over NC State:— Tomahawk Nation (@TomahawkNation) March 21, 2022
FSU pitchers mow down the competition
Though game one had its struggles from the mound, the staff was still able to fan 10 and 16 in game two. For the season, FSU’s pitching staff has racked up double-digit K’s in 18 of 19 games. The majority of those strike outs have come from the weekend starting rotation who are responsible for sitting down 147 batters.
Wyatt Crowell is a crucial piece of the pen that has struggled this year but the sophomore was dialed in on Sunday. Crowell pounded the zone, throwing strikes on 64% of his pitches and limiting NC State’s opportunities. The pen has a long way to go to figure itself out but Sunday for Crowell could be a big step in that direction.
Dunn makes his pitch
FSU’s weekend rotation:
Parker Messick: 5 GS, 3-1, 51 K, 3.48 ERA
Bryce Hubbart: 5 GS, 4-1, 51 K, 2.08 ERA
Ross Dunn: 1-0, 45 K, 1.42 ERA
Coming into this year, the third starter of the weekend rotation was still up in the air. Dunn was able to win the offseason competition and has improved with each start. Dunn has pitched 6+ innings over his last two starts striking out 23 and allowing only two earned runs. Though the wins have not followed, could Dunn be FSU’s best starter by season’s end?
Colton Vincent finds success at the plate
Entering today’s game, the redshirt junior had only picked up seven hits on the year, carrying a .152 average. Brock Mathis got the start at catcher in game one, rewarded FSU with another homerun, but was sloppy behind the plate with an error and multiple passed balls. Vincent took back catching duties in game two and had one of his best offensive days of the season. Vincent was 2-4 with a double that nearly cleared the right field fence in the ninth inning.
Defense more Hyde than Jekyll
After a near flawless outing in the first game of the series against NC State, the Seminoles’ yips showed up again in the first game of the doubleheader. The defense was shaky from the start with a passed ball and error in the first inning leading to an unearned run. A second passed ball later in the game brought in another run and placed another Wolfpack baserunner in scoring position. The next batter brought that runner home with a single.
In game two, FSU’s defense flashed at times with Jordan Carrion making a great throw to the plate to end a NC State threat. But the mistakes showed up again later in the game. A throwing error in the sixth allowed another runner to reach base and later score. A passed ball in the seventh moved a player into scoring position and also later score. Florida State must clean up the mistakes to reach their full potential.
A tale of two bullpens
After solid outings against Bethune-Cookman and three clean innings in the first game of the series, the bullpen once again had a melt down. With FSU trailing 6-3 in game one of the doubleheader, Dylan Simmons entered in the seventh inning and allowed four runs recording zero outs. In total, all four pitchers that made an appearance in game one allowed a run while on the mound.
In game two, Jonah Scolaro allowed an inherited runner to score, assisted by a passed ball, before giving up a solo homerun in the next inning. Davis Hare then performed brilliantly on the mound throwing 3.1 innings and striking out seven. Jackson Nezuh came on for the 12th inning and gave up a 2-run bomb. Wyatt Crowell was the next man up from the pen and responded with his best outing of the year pitching 5.1 shut out innings.
Bats unable to show up in the big spot
Between the two games, the Seminoles were a combined 5-45 (.111) with runners on base. Game two was especially rough as the ‘Noles were 1-21 (.048) with runners in scoring position. FSU had chances to walk-off the game in the ninth and tenth but left runners on base in both innings. Seminole batters struck out a combined four times with runners in scoring position across the two frames. This is mitigated to a degree by freshman Ferrer’s final line of two hits on eight at bats with five strike outs but the home run looms large.
Up Next: On Tuesday and Wednesday, FSU will host UCF for a pair of midweek games.