Jan. 25, 2005
FSU has lost the first game of the season only seven times in 56 years (49-7, .875) and only two of those losses have come in Tallahassee. In 1998 the Seminoles lost to Notre Dame at a neutral site marking the last time FSU lost its season opener. The last time FSU lost a season opener at home was 1981 versus Georgia Southern in a 3-2 loss. The only other time FSU opened a season at home and lost came March 20, 1958 versus Auburn when the Tigers started FSU’s season by sweeping a doubleheader 4-3, 10-7. Overall in home-openers FSU is 52-4 (.929) with only one loss coming in the last 22 years. That was a 9-3 loss to Stanford to open the home schedule in 2002. Before that, the last time FSU lost the first home game of the year was the ’81 Georgia Southern loss. The other two home-opening losses came at the hands of Auburn in 1958 and 1969.
In 56 years of FSU baseball FSU has only lost a season opening series on two occasions. The last time the Seminoles lost a season-opening series came in 1981 when Georgia Southern took two of three games from FSU. The only other time the Garnet & Gold lost a series to open the season came in 1958 when Auburn took both games of a two game series. Overall, FSU is 44-2-10 in season opening series (the ties indicate a series split). In home-opening series, FSU has won 48 of 51 series. The only losses were to Auburn in ’58, Georgia Southern in ’81 and the last series loss came just three years ago when Stanford came to town and took two of three from FSU.
In 1998 the Seminoles opened the home portion of their season versus Charleston Southern and won 16-0 and 13-0. It was the only time the teams opened the season versus one another. The Seminoles have never lost to Charleston Southern going 11-0. The series dates back to 1992 and FSU has scored double digit runs in seven of the 11 contests. The Seminoles have recorded three shutouts in the series. The last two meetings, a doubleheader in 2003, were the two closest meetings in series history with FSU winning 2-1 and 10-7. All 11 games have been played in Tallahassee.
Junior right-hander Mark Sauls will make the first opening day start of his career when the Seminoles open the season Friday versus Charleston Southern. The start will also be the first of Sauls’ career in the first series of the season. The last two years FSU opened with VMI and Sauls saw action in both series but he did not start a game. As a freshman and a sophomore he made his first start of the season in the second series of the year and both were Sunday starts at a Pac 10 opponent’s stadium. In 2003 he went 4.1 innings and picked up a win versus Stanford. In 2004, he pitched three innings in a loss at Arizona State. Sauls is coming off an all-star stint in the Cape Cod league this summer and will enter the season as FSU’s No. 1 pitcher according to pitching coach Jamey Shouppe. With the Hyannis Mets, Sauls went 3-1 with a 1.90 ERA and two combined shutouts. He led all Hyannis starters in ERA and was second in opponent batting average (.209).
Florida State enters the 2005 season with a young squad but that hasn’t stopped the group from garnering numerous preseason honors. Sophomore Ryne Malone has led the way snagging the top accolade as he was named to the Brooks Wallace National Player of the Year watch list. The 2004 freshman All-America is one of 58 players on the list and one of just four ACC players to make the cut. Malone was also named a first team preseason All-ACC selection and all-state selection by sebaseball.com. Senior catcher Aaron Cheesman joined Malone on both of those lists as well. Pitcher Hunter Jones was named a preseason All-ACC second team selection. The baseball website also named Bryan Henry, Ryne Jernigan and Tony Thomas Jr. among their Top ACC newcomers.
Florida State opens the season ranked in the top 20 in both the Collegiate Baseball and Sports Weekly/ESPN Coach’s Poll. The Seminoles checked in at No. 18 in the Collegiate Baseball poll and No. 19 in the Sports Weekly/ESPN Coach’s Poll. Florida State is 27th in Baseball America’s preseason rankings. It is the first time in a decade that the Seminoles were not ranked in Baseball America’s Top 25.
The reigning ACC Champion Florida State Seminoles were pegged to finish fourth in the 2005 ACC Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll. ACC newcomer Miami was picked first garnering eight of the 11 first place votes. North Carolina received the other three first place votes and finished second. Georgia Tech placed third, finishing just four points ahead of Florida State. Last season, FSU was predicted to finish second by the league’s coaches and ended up winning the school’s fourth crown. The Tribe has won 10 regular season and conference tournament titles since joining the league in 1992, which is double the amount of any other ACC squad over that time frame.
MARTIN MILESTONES ON HORIZON
Head coach Mike Martin picked up his 1,300th win last season making him one of just six DI coaches to reach that plateau. With 1,338 victories, Martin would need the first 62-win season in school history to become one of just four coaches with 1,400 wins. The most immediate milestone upcoming for Martin would be win 1,343, which would move him past legendary USC coach Rod Dedeaux for sixth all-time for wins by a DI coach. Martin is just five victories away from that major accomplishment.
WHEN WE LAST SAW THE SEMINOLES
Of the six Seminoles that ended 2004 with a hitting streak of more than one game, four return for the 2005 season. Ryne Malone leads the way as he finished 2004 with a hit in 11 consecutive games. Fellow sophomore Shane Robinson will open the season looking to extend his five game hitting streak, the second-longest on the team. Senior Aaron Cheesman finished 2004 with a four game hit streak and Gibbs Chapman ended the year with a hit in three straight games. Tyler Chambliss will enter 2005 as a winner of four straight decisions, the longest streak on the current staff. Mark Sauls has a three-game win streak in tact after recording a victory in three of his last six starts to end 2004. Glen Simon has a three-game win streak dating back to 2003 after missing last season with an injury.
REGIONAL AND SUPER REGIONAL STREAK
Speaking of ending the season on a streak. Last season FSU advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 27th consecutive year, the second longest streak in the nation. There has never been an FSU squad coached by Mike Martin that hasn’t played in an NCAA Regional and an NCAA Super Regional as FSU extended its Super Regional streak to six in 2004. Florida State has never missed a Super Regional since the NCAA switched to that format in 1999. The three longest streaks as far as consecutive NCAA Regional trips belong to ACC schools (Miami – 32, FSU – 27 and Clemson – 18). No other conference in America even has three schools among the top 10 in that category.
The 2005 Seminoles are the youngest group head coach Mike Martin has ever lead in his 26 years at the helm of Florida State baseball. Twenty-six of the Seminoles’ 34 roster players have one year of experience or less at FSU. On opening day, as many as seven starters will have one year or less of Division I playing experience and four freshmen could also be in the line-up this Friday versus Charleston Southern. Aaron Cheesman and Kevin Lynch are the only two players on this year’s roster who have played all four years of college ball at FSU. Twenty-four of the 34 roster players this year are either freshmen or sophomores.
This is the first time in over 25 years (1978) that Florida State and Miami won’t play at least four times in a season it is also the first time since that 1978 season that the Canes won’t play in Tallahassee. That is due to the Hurricanes joining the expanded ACC. The addition of Miami and Virginia Tech moves the ACC into contention with the SEC and Big 12 as the top baseball conference in America. One of the reasons for the ACC’s strength is the strength of schedule that ACC team’s play year in and year out. In 2005, Florida State will play seven teams that made the 2004 NCAA Tournament. All seven were either seeded first or second in their regional and three advanced to Super Regional play. With the addition of Miami and the conference tournament being staged in Jacksonville, ACC baseball will have a distinct Florida flare this season, which is good for FSU. The championship has been held in Florida on two other occasions and FSU captured the conference title both of those years.
Florida State’s pitching staff is the most experienced group on the 2005 team with 281 games played amongst the returners. FSU’s 2005 pitching staff combined to post a record of 28-13 in their last seasons on the mound. The return of Hunter Jones and the maturation of Mark Sauls gives FSU a great 1-2 punch and with freshman All-America Brian Schultz and Barret Browning battling for the No. 3 spot in the rotation, FSU pitching coach Jamey Shouppe has a lot of options. Senior reliever Kevin Lynch has appeared in 90 games in his career and he joins a talented group in the FSU bullpen, which also includes Matt DiBlasi, Stephen Ochs and Tyler Chambliss. Newcomers Ryan Strauss and Bryan Henry will also provide depth.