OMAHA, Neb. – No one on Florida State’s baseball team is too particular about who they play at this time of year.
The Seminoles are still in Omaha, which means 1) their season is still going on in late June and 2) any team they might match up against will be one of the best in the country.
Still, as LSU met Oregon State on Monday night to determine who advanced to Friday’s bracket final and who met FSU in an elimination game on Wednesday, the Seminoles couldn’t help but wish for a rematch with the Tigers.
Top-ranked Oregon State hammered No. 4 LSU, 13-1, to set up Round 2 between the Seminoles and Tigers.
And given the way the first meeting ended, with FSU committing several fielding errors that helped hand LSU a 5-4 victory, the Seminoles are looking forward to a chance at redemption. And, of course, a chance to advance.
“Definitely we want to get another crack at them,” junior third baseman Dylan Busby said. “We have some unfinished business.”
Aided by Busby’s towering, two-run home run early in Saturday’s game, the Seminoles led LSU for 7 ½ innings before letting it slip away in the bottom of the eighth.
LSU tied the game on a play in which the Seminoles made three errors, then took the lead on a soft ground ball that scored a runner from third.
It was a frustrating result, but one that also carried a little bit of promise: Eliminate the missteps, and the Seminoles like their chances.
“I think we’re looking forward to playing better,” FSU coach Mike Martin said. “Every game you run into different situations, and I think our guys are looking forward to competing, whether we had won the game or the fact that we lost the game.”
Martin also said that either Cole Sands (6-3, 5.05 ERA) or Andrew Karp (2-3, 4.87) will pitch for the Seminoles. LSU coach Paul Mainieri confirmed Monday that he’ll start Jared Poche’ (11-3, 3.33). Poche’ threw 30 pitches and earned a win in 2 2/3 innings of relief against FSU on Saturday.
Busby’s battle-worn bat
When Busby first arrived at Florida State in the summer of 2014, he asked for an old bat to use for a few practice swings.
Three years later, he and that same bat are inseparable.
Its paint is chipped and faded and there are more scratches than Busby can count, but it’s hard to argue with his – or maybe it’s the bat’s – results. In the last three seasons, Busby has hit 38 homers, driven in 165 runs and has a career OPS of .938.
“I’ve never used a different metal bat ever,” Busby said with a smile. “Some people say it’s dead. I like to think it’s wide awake.”
That’s not to say he hasn’t gotten some ribbing from teammates and coaches. But as long as the bat is effective – and, more importantly, as long as it passes NCAA inspection – they’re not going to say too much.
“That’s his baby,” FSU assistant Mike Martin Jr. said. “As long as it’s not broken or dead, he can use whatever. And it still jumps off his bat, so I’m fine with it.”
Martin, Noles enjoy a ‘grand’ game
Perhaps it’s only appropriate that one of the icons of college baseball took part in one of the milestone games of the sport’s history.
Monday’s game between FSU and Cal State Fullerton was the 1,000th in the history of the College World Series. The CWS began in 1947 and has been held in Omaha since 1950.
Even more remarkable? Martin has coached in 52 CWS games, which amounts to 5.2 percent of every College World Series game ever played.
“I didn’t realize any of that,” Martin said. “Well, maybe I did. Somebody said something about that the other night about this being the 1,000th game. But I didn’t know that I had been involved in — what did you say, how many percent? 5 percent.
“Well, I’m just proud that we had a ballgame today that you truly enjoyed. That was good stuff.”