TALLAHASSEE – Mike Martin remembers his first victory like it was yesterday.
After No. 5 Florida State’s series clinching 11-3 win over VCU on Sunday — Martin’s 1,900th career victory — the Seminoles’ longtime skipper took the media through memory lane at his press conference.
“We were down 8-2 at Miami and I took everybody out of the game in the sixth inning,” Martin said, a reminiscing look in his eyes. “We got a couple back to make it 8-6 and then in the ninth, Mike Yastrzemski hit a three-run homer over the scoreboard and we win 9-8.”
It’s fond memories like those that keep Martin going, and he’s had plenty of them.
In his 38th season at the helm of the Seminoles, the head coach became just the second man in college baseball history to reach the 1,900 wins mark, joining former Texas legend Augie Garrido in that club. Martin is the only one to do it while at one school.
“You know, it does mean something,” Martin said on reaching the mark. “It means something because of the affection and love I have for, not just my job, but this university. All of this has been at one school and it means a lot to me.”
“Eleven” – as the FSU baseball community calls him – has coached some big-time names at FSU, including the likes of Eduardo Perez, J.D. Drew and Buster Posey, just to name a few. He was quick to deflect the recognition off himself and instead to his players, both current and former..
“I don’t take this (milestone) with a grain of salt, it means something,” Martin pointed out. “It means we’ve had some outstanding athletes in our program for a long time. I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to work with them.”
The win was just as important for his current players as it was for Martin, an opportunity and day they won’t soon forget.
“It’s the biggest reason for most of us who decided to come here, that tradition he built,” senior first baseman Quincy Nieporte said. “To be a part of a monumental win in a legend’s career is special. It’s something we will all cherish and it’s an honor.”
Starting Pitching Shines
Martin heralded his starting rotation prior to the season beginning and the trio of Drew Carlton, Cole Sands and Tyler Holton all impressed.
For the weekend, the starters combined to pitch 17 1/3 innings, giving up just three earned runs while walking three and striking out 14.
“Holton was a bulldog, Sands had a very good outing, and Drew was just Drew,” Martin said. “It was a very successful weekend pitching-wise.”
Carlton (0-1) tossed 5 2/3 innings on Friday in the 3-0 loss. The junior gave up nine hits, two earned runs, walked none, and struck out four.
On Saturday, Sands (1-0) was brilliant as he gave FSU 5 2/3 innings of four-hit baseball in the 12-3 win. The sophomore from Tallahassee, Fla., gave up no earned runs, while walking two and striking out four.
Holton (1-0) was dialed in on Sunday, helping the Seminoles clinch the series by tossing six strong innings in an 11-3 victory. The sophomore southpaw gave up just three hits and one earned run, while walking just one batter and striking out eight Rams.
With many pieces coming back to the Seminoles’ lineup from 2016, the FSU attack was expected to be one of the strongest units in the country in 2017. Against VCU, the Noles showed the newcomers in the lineup were just as ready to contribute as the well-known veterans.
“It’s a really talented class that came in,” Nieporte said on the newcomers. “They were impressive this weekend and can now get the jitters out of the way and impact our team.”
Freshmen Nick Derr (5 for 8, double, three runs scored) and J.C. Flowers (4 for 9, two RBIs) stood out during the series, flashing the ability to propel the FSU lineup to new heights this season.
“When you have great coaches and teammates, it’s not hard to fit in and learn quickly,” Derr said.
“He’s not a guy that gets out of himself or gets down on himself,” Martin added about Flowers. “I can’t teach that, it’s something that comes from within.”