It was another up-and-down week for the Noles as they entered ACC play. Florida State went 2-2, bookending a couple of losses with a midweek and a Sunday win. The Noles are showing us who they are this year, but it’ll be up to first-year skipper Mike Martin, Jr. to try to minimize his team’s flaws this year and keep the 40-win streak alive for yet another season. Let’s take a look at the week that was.
Tuesday, 3/3 vs. Mercer – W, 9-8 (11)
The game was relocated to Tallahassee due to rain in the Macon area. While the Noles did jump out to an early lead on the afternoon on good hitting by the top of the lineup, the pitching was iffy from the start. Bryce Hubbart walked 2 in his 1.2 inning start, leaving the bullpen to work the rest of the game. Tyler Ahearn worked well, only giving up a singular earned run in 3.2 innings of work. From there, though, Scolaro and Haney couldn’t close the game out. The two veteran arms gave up 4 runs in 1.2 innings to let the Bears claw back into the game. Davis Hare, though, pitched brilliantly. The junior pitched 3.1 innings of 1-hit ball, silencing the Mercer bats.
Like mentioned before, the lineup got off to a great start, scratching across 2 runs in the first. Elijah Cabell provided power in the third, hitting a 2-run homer to give the Noles a 4-2 lead. It all fell apart for the Bears in the 8th inning, allowing the Noles to come back and tie the game. A balk, a wild pitch, 2 walks, a passed ball, and a 2-run error provided the Noles the opportunities needed to send it to extras.
In extras, it was Tyler Martin who would be the hero. The freshman would single on the 9th pitch of the at-bat, bringing home Tyrell Brewer and sending the Noles home happy.
Friday, 3/6 @ Duke – L, 2-1
Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap. A pitcher’s duel throughout, the Blue Devils happened to scrape across one more run than the Noles. CJ Van Eyk was everything you’d want, going 6 innings, walking 2, striking out 6. Timely hitting in the first provided the run for Duke, and that was all they’d get until the 8th, where a throwing error by Tyler Martin allowed the leadoff man to get on base. A double would bring him home, and that would be the difference.
Duke’s Bryce Jarvis was just on. The Blue Devil starter went 7 innings, striking out 12 and only walking 1. The Noles couldn’t get on base and couldn’t find a hit. They would scrape one across in the 9th, where Tyler Martin drew a walk, got to 3rd via wild pitch, and score on a groundout.
Sometimes, that’s just baseball.
Saturday, 3/7 @ Duke – L, 4-3
Sometimes, though, you realize that you left some out on the field. FSU couldn’t capitalize when Duke gave them the chance on Saturday, and ended up coming up short again. Drohan struggled, again, giving up 4 earned runs in 5.1 innings. Three of those came in the third, where being on base and timely hitting gave the Blue Devils a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Velez came on in relief and shut down Duke, scattering 2 hits in 2.2 innings and giving the Noles a chance.
FSU did do better Saturday, but just not enough. Cabell hit another home run, and the Noles were able to get on base, but couldn’t find the timely hitting to bring in more runs and extend innings. At this point, we’re starting to learn who this team is, and we would be right to expect some strings to get pulled to try to get this team rolling.
Sunday, 3/8 @ Duke – W, 10-2
The game sure started out looking like we’d get swept. Conor Grady was just flat-out, straight-up no good. In 2 innings, he walked 4 and struck out 1, while giving up 3 hits and 2 runs. But the bullpen? They came through. The combination of Anderson, Kwiatkowski, Haney, Messick, and Kirkland threw 7 innings of shutout, 1-hit, 1 walk, 11 strikeout ball. It was the Friday game, but reversed – sometimes, if you’re Duke, you’ve gotta tip your cap.
But it wasn’t just the arms. A third homer by Cabell (his 7th on the year) added to dingers by Reese Albert and Logan Lacey. Albert and Lacey also added doubles. 6 walks and a hit batsmen aided the Noles in their 10-run Sunday.
Something’s gotta give with this lineup. It has been played with a bit, but I believe there’s some additional optimization that can be done. Hopefully, Tyler Martin’s arm is recuperated so he can play third base, but the middle of the infield is a black hole. Jackson Greene is batting .216, while Nander is batting .148. I’m not certain of what you could do to immediately fix it completely, but moving Nander down in the lineup seems like a fair idea. I’d like to see Andzel get some run up the middle, possibly even Tyrell Brewer. If we’re going to have bad hitting and bad defense, you might as well have it from freshmen.
This week is a loaded week. We start on Tuesday night with a trip to Gainesville to take on UF. UF is 16-0 on the season and is likely the best team in the nation. Let’s see if this FSU team has the mental fortitude to not collapse against the Lizards. The Noles then come back home to take on Illinois State. The Redbirds are 6-8 on the season and are extremely inconsistent – losing to Little Rock, but beating Arkansas. Last year, the Redbirds were 36-26.
FSU does play its weekend series at home; however, it’s against Georgia Tech. The Rambling Wreck is off to a 10-5 start, taking 2 of 3 last weekend at home against Virginia Tech. The Yellow Jackets were 43-19 last season and return quite a bit of talent.