March 21, 2006
The Seminoles lead the all-time series with JU 105-33 and they are 35-23 in Jacksonville with one of those wins coming at the Baseball Grounds. FSU has won 13 straight games in the series. The last time a Seminole squad lost to JU was February 24, 2002 in Jacksonville. The Dolphins won that game 13-4. It tied the series record for the most runs scored by JU versus FSU and the widest margin of victory for JU. The record was set in 1971 in an identical 13-4 JU win on their campus. Jacksonville has had a lot of success in the series in games played on their home field. In Tallahassee the Seminoles are 70-10 for a .875 winning percentage but that winning percentage drops to .596 in games played at JU. FSU has scored 10 or more runs in seven of the last 10 meetings and recorded two shutouts in that stretch. Besides the two shutouts, JU has had success producing runs. The Dolphins have scored three or more runs in the other eight meetings but have never been closer than five runs in any of those 10 games. Florida State has won each of the last six meetings by six runs or more. The longest win streak for FSU in the series is 18 games set between 1980-2002 while JU’s longest win streak is three games set twice (1972 and 1982). The last time FSU lost back-to-back games to JU was in April of 1984 with both losses coming in Jacksonville.
The Seminoles went 4-0 versus the Dolphins last year outscoring JU 43-13. FSU batted .323 in the series and slugged .594. The teams met just once on the JU campus with FSU taking that game 11-4. FSU scored nine or more runs in all four games and double digit runs in three of the four contests. Seminole pitchers posted a 3.00 ERA in the series compared to a 10.06 mark for the JU pitching staff. Jacksonville had just six extra base hits in the four games compared to FSU who pounded out 19. The Seminoles averaged two homeruns per game in the four meetings but the biggest disparity was in walks. Florida State batters drew 33 compared to just nine for the Dolphins. Both teams struck out 28 times.
Florida State will start Barret Browning versus the Dolphins Wednesday night. Browning is coming off the best performance of his career the last time out. The senior put together his longest start of the season versus a top 30 Winthrop team as he threw six innings of shutout ball. It was the first time Browning did not allow a run in a start since February 6, 2005 versus VMI, the second start of his career. He did not walk a single batter and threw just 69 pitches, 49 of which were strikes. It was the fourth straight win for the Jessup, GA native. Browning has really returned to the form he showed throughout the first half of 2005 when he was the Seminoles’ Friday night starter. In his last two outings he has gone 11 innings, allowed just one run, walked only one batter and struck out seven. In his last two starts he has cut his ERA by a run and a half. Browning has also cut his walks down each time out while his strikeouts have gone up almost every game as well. He now has a K:BB ratio of 2:1 compared to 1:1 in his first two starts of the year. While the left-hander is putting 40% of leadoff runners on and teams are batting .408 versus him with the bases empty, no starter has done a better job with runners on base as teams have hit just .196 versus Browning this year. One of the biggest improvements for Browning over his last two starts has been his success versus left-handed batters. In the last two games lefties have hit .214 versus Browning compared to .500 in his first three starts. Another big area of improvement that has translated into success has been the way Browning has started games recently. In his first three starts, six of the seven earned runs the senior allowed came in the first three innings but in his last two starts he has allowed just one run in the first three innings of those games. There is one area that Browning would still like to improve in. In every game this season he has allowed a double but to his credit he has cut that number down as well. In his first three starts Browning gave up six doubles but he has allowed only one in each of his last two games. On the other hand, he has not allowed a triple or a homerun yet this season.
The 2006 Seminoles are continuing to flex their collective muscles when it comes to homeruns and extra base hits. Florida State reached the 30 homer mark in a big way when Dennis Guinn hit his second grand slam of the year Sunday. The 30 homers FSU has hit through the first 23 games are the most since the 2000 team hit 30 in that same span. That 2000 squad just happened to be the last FSU team to make it to Omaha. FSU has three times as many homers this year than they did at the same point last season and at least seven more than any of the previous five teams had through the first 23 games. This year’s team isn’t just going yard though. The 12 triples they have amassed in 23 games are more than any Seminole team in a decade. In fact, it is just six shy of the total triples from 73 games in 2005 and more than four Seminole teams have amassed in an entire season. Right now FSU is averaging 0.52 triples per game, which is slightly ahead of the record pace set by the 1972 team that had 35 triples and averaged 0.51 per game. Right now FSU has 96 total extra base hits. This year’s squad is the first since 2000 to rack up 90 or more extra base hits through the first 23 games. The 2000 team had 93 compared to this year’s squad which has 96.
Florida State Head Coach Mike Martin has always believed in the value of a sacrifice. When there is a chance for a big inning he is going to go for it but manufacturing runs has been a key component to his success for 27 years. While his philosophy hasn’t changed in 2006 it is safe to say he has adapted to his teams strengths. With this year’s squad hitting for more power, there has been a lot less sacrificing through the first 23 games. Last season FSU successfully sac bunted 17 times in the first 23 games compared to just seven this season. Overall, in 2005 FSU had already accumulated 41 sacrifices in the first 23 games that number stands at just 21 so far this year. The 2006 Seminoles are still bunting for base hits though. This season they have 10 bunt singles compared to 13 through the same amount of games last season.
DENNIS THE MENACE
Dennis Guinn continues to be the biggest story for FSU through the first 23 games of the 2006 season. The sophomore first baseman is leading the Seminoles power surge as this year’s squad is displaying more muscle than any team since 2000. Guinn is leading the team in slugging (.773), RBIs (36), triples (3), homeruns (7) and total bases (68). He is not just hitting for power either as his .386 average and .464 on base percentage prove. In his first season as a starter he is fielding a solid .980 and he is averaging just one strikeout for every 11 at bats but it is his power numbers though that are really putting Guinn in an elite class. Guinn’s 36 RBIs are more than any Seminole has collected in the first 23 games in six years and he is one of just two players to even break the 30 RBI mark since 2002. The last FSU player to reach 30 RBIs through 23 games was John-Ford Griffin in 2001. That year he had 34 RBIs and went on to be named a consensus All-American. That was also the last season a Seminole had as many homers as Guinn through 23 games as Griffin had seven as well. Guinn’s seven HR’s would rank as the second-most hit by a Seminole for the entire 2005 season and he is just three homers shy of equaling the team leaders from last year (Gibbs Chapman and Danny Wardell).
There are so many amazing records surrounding FSU baseball. You have Marshall McDougall’s six homeruns in one inning. The lifetime .730 winning percentage for the program. Some may say it’s the 333 wins since 2000 while others will point to 12 50+ win seasons since 1990. It is hard to argue with 28 consecutive NCAA Regionals as well but FSU established another record this week that stacks up with the best. For the 300th consecutive week the Seminoles are in the Top 25 of the Collegiate Baseball poll, the oldest college baseball poll in America. The streak dates back to May 2, 1988. The Seminoles are celebrating the milestone in grand fashion as well as the once again are ranked No. 1 in the magazines Top 25.
When FSU Head Coach Mike Martin sat down in January to discuss the 2006 season he said when the opportunity presented itself to go for a big inning he would do just that. As usual he has been a man of his word. This season FSU has scored four or more runs in an inning 16 times. While the 15 runs the Seminoles scored in an inning versus Brown stands out the most, Florida State has put up seven and eight runs in an inning and six on two occasions. Four times this year FSU has scored five runs in a frame and seven times the team has scored four runs. Many of those big innings have come at key times as well. Just a couple examples came versus Minnesota and Brown. FSU was trailing Minnesota 2-0 in the third before putting up six runs and the Seminoles were actually tied 1-1 with Brown before scoring a near-record 15 runs in the fifth.
HE CAN DO IT ALL
Seminole junior Ryne Malone is once again quietly going about his business. He is hitting .349 with five homers and 21 RBIs. He is a perfect 5-for-5 on steals and he has made just one error all season. What makes his .985 fielding percentage so impressive is the fact that Malone has already played three positions this season and has now played seven positions in his career (1B, 2B, SS, 3B, LF, CF, RF). Mike Martin joked that Malone can do everything but pitch and catch and he is proving it in his career so far.
One of FSU’s six transfer’s this year hasn’t got a lot of pub as of yet but he is showing he deserves to grab some headlines. Ryan McArdle is in his first year as a Seminole but as the son of a former FSU baseball player it was a dream come true when he finally got a chance to wear the Garnet & Gold. Although his family is now in Atlanta, McArdle came back to Tallahassee and attended TCC before making the move down the road to Florida State. The DH has shown his .390 average and 50 RBI’s at TCC were no fluke. The junior is backing up Dennis Guinn at first base but is also seeing a lot of time off the bench as a DH. He is hitting .400 this season and slugging .720. In just 25 at bats, the junior has two doubles and two homeruns. What is even more amazing is that he has posted those numbers in just two starts. His 13 other appearances have been coming in cold off the bench. When you enter a game for another DH it is not truly considered a pinch hit but what McArdle has done in basically a pinch hitting role is pretty amazing. He has already come off the bench and hit a homerun in his first at bat of the game twice and in five of his last seven games as a “pinch hitter” he has recorded a hit in his first at bat. In the last 11 games, McArdle has hit .474 with six runs, four extra base hits and a slugging percentage of .895. He has also recorded a hit in seven of his last nine games.
Tyler Chambliss continues to establish himself as one of the best starters in the ACC after proving he was one of the best relievers in the country in 2005. The junior is now 6-0 with an ERA of just 2.00. Teams are hitting just .205 against him and he is the only Seminole with a complete game so far in 2006. The scary thing about Chambliss is he is still evolving into his role as a starter and is getting better each time out. After striking out 26 batters and walking 13 in his first six appearances, Chambliss has struck out 15 and walked just six in his last two starts. He has as many K’s in the last two games (25) as he had in his first five starts (25) combined. The junior fanned 15 batters last week versus Maryland and then turned around and fanned 10 more batters this past weekend against Virginia Tech. He is the first FSU pitcher to strike out 10 or more batters in back-to-back games since 1999. That year Nick Stocks struck out 12 batters in consecutive games versus ACC opponents as well. Stocks did it versus Virginia and NC State March 13 and March 20.
LAST WEEK’S STARS
Dennis Guinn had a monster week at the plate for FSU leading the Seminoles to a 10-0 win over Winthrop and then an ACC road series win at Virginia Tech. Guinn hit .421 and slugged 1.053 as six of his eight hits last week went for extra bases. Guinn had two doubles, two triples and two homers one of which was a grand slam. He led FSU with seven RBIs and seven runs scored. He collected and extra base hit in every game last week and came within a single of the cycle in game two of the Hokie series and hit his second grand slam of the season in the rubber game of the Virginia Tech series. Guinn hit .417 with runners on, .500 with the bases loaded, .429 with runners in scoring position and he was tied for the team lead with two, two-out RBIs.
The junior had a great week for FSU. He hit .316 but slugged .632 as he had a double, triple and a homer in four games. His two-run triple secured FSU’s series win over Virginia Tech Sunday. He hit .500 with two outs in an inning and he was tied for the team lead with two, two-out RBIs. His 12 total bases were the second-most on the team as were his four RBIs.
Junior hit .375 with two doubles, a homer and three RBIs as FSU went 3-1. He scored four runs and slugged .688. His 11 total bases were third on the team. He stole a base and also drew two walks posting an on base percentage of .474. He hit .444 with runners on base and .429 with runners in scoring position. He also hit .500 with two away in a frame.
Tyler Chambliss spent Friday and Saturday in a Christiansburg, VA hotel room as he missed his scheduled start due to illness. With the series with the Hokies on the line the junior took the hill Sunday and all he did was go seven innings while allowing one run on three hits and for the second straight game he fanned double digit batters. Chambliss struck out 10 Hokies as he has now Ked 25 ACC batters in his last two games. He is the first Seminole hurler in at least three years to fane 10 or more batters in back-to-back outings. With the win Chambliss improved to 6-0 and dropped his ERA on the season to 2.00.
Henry was stellar once again for FSU. The junior allowed just four hits as FSU downed Virginia Tech 11-2 in the series opener. He recorded his fifth quality start of the season and for the 12th time in 18 career starts he allowed one earned run or less. Henry came into the game with a K:BB ratio of 7:1 and kept right on pace for a single season record as he walked just one batter and struck out seven more raising his season total to 48 K’s. Henry has now won five straight decisions and in his last 33 2/3 innings of work he has only allowed an opponent to score in one of those innings.
Browning had the best start of his Seminole career in pitching FSU past a dangerous Winthrop team 10-0. The senior put together his longest start of the season as he threw six innings of shutout ball. It was the first time Browning did not allow a run in a start since February 6, 2005 versus VMI, the second start of his career. He did not walk a single batter, struck out two and threw just 69 pitches, 49 of which were strikes. It was the fourth straight win for the Jessup, GA native.
Fans make plans to join the Seminoles this weekend as they take on Duke in a three game series starting Friday night at 6, Saturday night at 6 and Sunday at noon. Be one of the first 1,000 in attendance on Saturday and receive a free Florida State Baseball T-shirt. On Sunday all kids that wear a jersey to the game get in free. Kids also have a chance to take the field with the Seminoles prior to the game.