Feb. 3, 2006
Tallahassee, FL – The eighth-ranked Florida State baseball team is set to open the 2006 season today at 4:00 p.m. versus Charleston Southern. Coming off their seventh straight Super Regional appearance, the Seminoles will open the season versus the Buccaneers at Mike Martin Field for the second straight year.
“Charleston Southern is a good baseball team,” said FSU Head Coach Mike Martin. “(Head coach) Jason Murray knows what he is doing. They came in here last year and we were very fortunate to win that first game 2-1. They proved it was no fluke when they went to Florida and beat the Gators once and lost a game by one run. You can’t look at anything but the game at hand. You focus on each game and each pitch.”
The first pitch of the 2006 season will be thrown by All-ACC first team selection Bryan Henry. The ace of the staff in 2005, Henry will open the season on the mound for the first time in his two-year career at Florida State. Just 12 months ago Henry made his first career start versus CSU but last time it was at third base.
“I am excited to get the start opening day,” said Henry. “I don’t know how many people can say they started at third on opening day one year and then on the mound opening day the next year. It is a goal that I have accomplished and now I am just going to go out and do the same thing I have been doing.”
“We will go with Bryan Henry Friday night,” said Martin. “Bryan was the guy who pitched our Friday night games last year and I think he deserves to open the season in that role. That will give (Tyler) Chambliss something to strive for. He is a guy that enjoys competition and it gives us two capable guys to open the series.”
All-ACC closer Chambliss will follow Henry in the starting rotation as he makes his first start since the 2004 ACC Tournament. The junior made the move from the bullpen in the off season and is still battling Henry for the No. 1 spot in the Seminole rotation.
“It is exciting to make a start because it is something I have worked hard for,” said Chambliss. “They are letting me and (Bryan) Henry battle it out and we are going to have a great 1-2. Then you have Barret (Browning) going Sunday and a lot of other guys who are capable of starting as well. This is something I have wanted to do. I spoke to Coach Martin last year and now it is just a few days away from happening.”
Chambliss’ last outing came in Salem, VA his freshman year. With FSU needing to defeat the Jackets twice to capture the 2004 ACC Championship, he threw six innings and allowed just three runs. He fanned seven batters while issuing three walks as the Seminoles won 8-7 and wound up capturing the title the next day.
“The last start was a long time ago,” said Chambliss. “It was a long week and we had played a lot of games. Everybody had pitched except for me and Kevin (Lynch). I started and went as far as I could. Then Kevin came in and finished the last three innings. It was fun.”
Along with Chambliss making a start, Seminole fans will see a few other new faces in the line-up this weekend. Dennis Guinn is scheduled to play first, Mark Gildea will be in left field and highly-touted freshman Buster Posey will take over at short. None has waited for their opportunity longer than junior catcher Danny Diaz who will start opening day for the first time in his Seminole career.
“I have been waiting for this day for two years,” said Diaz. “I am getting my chance to go out there and show Tallahassee what I can do.
“I am definitely more prepared to be this team’s catcher today than I was two years ago when I first arrived. I have learned so much from AC (Aaron Cheesman) like he did when he got here. It has been a blessing in disguise. I wasn’t ready as a freshman. I am at a stage where I am ready now.”
Mixed in with the new faces will be juniors Ryne Malone and Shane Robinson along with sophomores Tony Thomas, Jr. and Jack Rye. For Robinson, he will man center field for the third straight season and is coming off a record-breaking 2005. Collegiate Baseball’s 2005 National Player of the Year, the Tampa native led the nation in hits last season on top of his school-record 40-game hit streak. He will be called on once again to set the table at the top of the FSU order.
“It is a realistic goal for me to aim for the type of season I had last year again this season,” said Robinson. “I just want to remain consistent and try to help the team the same way I was able to last year. I don’t want anybody to think last year was a fluke. I want to prove I can remain consistent and put those numbers up each and every season. Those are my personal goals coming into the year.”
The Seminoles, who are ranked in the preseason top 10 in three of the four polls, will enter the season as deep as they have been in recent memory when it comes to the pitching staff. Despite the loss of ace reliever Kevin Lynch, Diaz sees this year’s group as having the potential to be one of the best staffs FSU fans have seen in a long time.
“This is an awesome staff and they will be fun to watch,” said Diaz. “They are going to strike people out, throw a few shutouts. It should be fun. I think this staff has seven pitchers that could start at any other school. We have the talent to have a great year.”
For the 2006 Seminoles a “great year” always means one thing and that is getting to Omaha. Since the 2003 team that spent much of the season ranked No. 1, there hasn’t been this much anticipation about an FSU squad. With a deep staff and three of the top four hitters returning, Robinson thinks the first trip to Omaha since 2000 is within this team’s reach.
“I am really excited about this team,” said Robinson. “We have a squad that can make it to Omaha. I like this pitching staff and a lot of the new guys are aggressive and confident at a young age. I am looking forward to seeing what this team can do.”
First pitch is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. Friday. Steve Melewski will bring fans the call live on 1270 WFLA AM in Tallahassee. Every Seminole baseball game will be carried live on WFLA and on Seminoles.com where broadcasts are free of charge. Game Tracker will also be available for every FSU game in 2006.