April 29, 2005
Tallahassee, FL – Going into the Georgia Tech series two weeks ago Florida State head coach Mike Martin said it was too early to label any series crucial. Now with just four weeks left in the conference race, he would have a hard time calling this weekend’s three-game set with Virginia anything but crucial. The Cavaliers have won six straight and are coming off a three-game sweep of No. 6 Georgia Tech. Virginia (30-13, 9-10) sits just 2 ½ games behind FSU in the conference standings and this is the second to last home ACC series for FSU (35-13, 10-8) this season.
The Seminoles will open the series tonight at 7:00 p.m. on Sun Sports with new Friday night starter Bryan Henry (4-2, 1-2) on the hill. The sophomore has gone from long relief versus Jacksonville just over two weeks ago to a mid-week starter versus Florida, then a Sunday starter versus Miami and now a Friday night starter against the Cavaliers. His rise to the head of the Seminole pitching rotation has been nothing short of meteoric.
“Starting on a Friday night for the first time is going to be fun,” said Henry. “It is something that I’ve always wanted to do growing up. Friday night I get my chance. I am going to try and have fun and hope for the best.
“The last couple weeks have been fun. This is the reason you play. You get a chance and you do everything you can to make the best out of the opportunity. The team is playing great behind me and I am getting run support. Hopefully this will keep going.”
Virginia comes into the series sporting one of the best pitching staffs in the nation. The Cavaliers have an ERA of just 2.79. At the start of the week UVa ranked sixth in the nation for staff ERA and tonight they will open the series with Matt Avery (4-3) on the mound. Last season, Avery threw Saturday against FSU and he had a strong outing in UVa’s 15-2 win. He threw 7 1/3 and allowed just two late runs. He held FSU scoreless through the first six innings of the game. The only current Seminoles to get a hit against Avery were Brandon Manasa, Brant Peacher and Ryne Malone.
Florida State comes into tonight’s game off one of its best performances of the year. The last time FSU was on the field they completed the Miami series with a 13-1 win. It was the worst defeat suffered by the Canes in 76 games. It was also the most lopsided win ever for the Seminoles at Miami tying the 1957 team, which defeated UM 15-3. The 12-run loss was the worst of the season for the Canes and the most lopsided defeat for UM since a 17-4 loss versus Georgia Tech April 2, 2004. Dating back to the 2003 season, Miami has allowed a team to score double digit runs just 13 times in 167 games and FSU has been responsible for three of those performances.
Florida State didn’t just have a good game to end the series, the Seminoles had one of their best weeks of the season. Despite going 2-2, FSU recorded its first two wins over ranked teams this year as both Miami and Florida currently reside in the top five of at least one national poll. The Seminoles out hit Florida and Miami last week .248 to .217 and the FSU pitching staff had an ERA almost half that of their two top five opponents (2.65 to 5.14).
Tonight’s game will be carried live on Sun Sports and will be the only game of the series shown on TV. The teams will resume the ACC series Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and wrap things up Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Game Tracker will be available for all this year’s games along with Steve Melewski’s live radio broadcast available on WFLA locally and on the Internet at seminoles.com.
NOTES: Friday night team photo cards will be handed out to the first 1,500 fans courtesy of Sun Sports. Florida State will also honor military personnel on leave from Iraq prior to the game. Sunday the first 1,000 fans will receive the second set of FSU Baseball trading cards. The cards are also courtesy of Sun Sports. The team will also hold an autograph session following Sunday’s series finale.