May 16, 2006
FLORIDA STATE VS. SOUTH ALABAMA – THE HISTORY
Florida State and South Alabama meet Tuesday night for the 61st time. The series has been extremely close throughout its history with Florida State holding a 34-25-1 advantage but just a 3-2 edge in the last five meetings. The Seminoles are 14-7 versus the Jaguars under Mike Martin and 10-3 versus USA in Tallahassee. Eight of the last 21 meetings between the teams have been in NCAA Tournament play. While FSU has won two in a row versus the Jaguars, both of those games came in the 2003 regional. In the last 18 years the two teams have only played two regular season games and South Alabama has won both. FSU and USA have played just one common opponent this year. Both teams faced Auburn. The Seminoles traveled to Auburn to face the Tigers and went 1-1. The Jaguars faced off with Auburn at home in a mid-week affair and lost 3-2. This will be South Alabama’s seventh game versus a ranked team and they are 1-6 in those contests. Although USA has not had a lot of success versus ranked opponents, two of their losses have been by one run and none of the losses have been by more than five. They took a game from Tulane and lost one-run games to the first and second place teams in the SEC Western Division (Alabama and Arkansas). USA comes into Tallahassee winners of 14 of its last 16 games and sitting just two games out of first place in the Sun Belt Conference.
Random Series Facts
FSU is 0-7-1 when scoring less than 2 runs vs. USA
FSU is 9-15 when scoring between 3 and 5 runs vs. USA
FSU is 14-3 when scoring between 6 and 9 runs vs. USA
FSU is 11-0 when scoring 10 or more runs vs. USA
FSU is 13-2-1 when USA scores less than 2 runs
FSU is 14-7 when USA scores between 3 and 5 runs
FSU is 4-12 when USA scores between 6 and 9 runs
FSU is 2-5 when USA sores more than 10 runs
Junior right-hander Michael Hyde will make his first start since April 19 versus the Gators. The Tallahassee native was FSU’s primary mid-week starter all year but his last four outings have all come out of the pen. His last start versus UF was the shortest of his career. Hyde lasted just 1 1/3 giving up five runs on four hits. Three of his four hits allowed went for extra bases as he allowed a double and two homeruns. Hyde followed the UF game with a rough outing versus Georgia Tech coming out of the bullpen but since then he has not allowed a run in his last three appearances. Hyde has been very good as a starter despite his one bad outing versus the Gators. In a starting role this season Hyde is 5-1 with a 4.70 ERA. Opponents have hit .275 against him in seven starts and he has fanned 19 while walking 14. Hyde has been at his best in his seven starts with runners on base as he has limited opponents to a .231 average in those situations. Where teams have hurt the junior has been when left-handers come to the plate. As a starter, left-handers have hit .304 versus Hyde. This will be the seventh start of the season for Hyde at Mike Martin Field and he has an excellent 6-1 record at home. His ERA of 5.24 is a concern but teams hit just .250 off of him at Dick Howser Stadium.
If you take South Alabama out of the equation, this is a rare meeting for an FSU team versus a Sun Belt Conference opponent. FSU has played games versus FIU, New Orleans, South Alabama, Troy and Western Kentucky but in the last 15 years the Seminoles have played just seven regular season games versus a current Sun Belt Conference member. Overall, Florida State is 77-36-1 (.680) versus the nine members with many of those games coming before Mike Martin’s tenure. The current Seminole skipper is 43-18 (.705) lifetime against that group. The last time FSU and Martin lost to a Sun Belt school was in the 2003 regional when USA upset the Seminoles in Tallahassee. FSU came back and beat the Jaguars twice to clinch the Tallahassee Regional Championship. The Jaguars were also the last Sun Belt school to defeat FSU at Dick Howser Stadium in the regular season when they won 6-5 April 16, 2002.
HOME SWEET HOME
FSU will play four of the most important regular season home games in recent memory to close out the 2006 season. There is a lot on the line beginning Tuesday with South Alabama and concluding this weekend with NC State. Florida State is just 5-11 in its last 16 games and sitting in eighth place in the ACC standings. That’s what makes this final home stand so important. There is only one other time in Mike Martin’s FSU career where one of his teams posted a winning percentage below .380 over a 16-game stretch and that came in 2004 when that team went 6-10 at one point. That group rallied to win 13 of its next 14 games, capture the ACC Championship, host a regional and advance to Super Regionals. FSU can take comfort in the fact they are playing at home. The Seminoles are 26-7 at Mike Martin Field and have posted considerably better stats on their home turf. FSU is hitting 109 points higher at home, slugging 178 points better and posting an on base percentage 112 points higher. FSU averages almost four more hits per game, four more runs, fewer K’s and more walks playing at home.
Even though he is the youngest starter on the team, freshman Buster Posey is showing the consistency of a veteran. Posey was one of the only Seminole batters to make a huge impact this past weekend at Clemson. While he batted just .250, Posey led the team with three RBIs and three walks versus the Tigers he also did not strikeout. His two-out, two-strike, two-run single in game two put FSU out to a lead it wouldn’t relinquish until Clemson tied the game in the ninth. The Leesburg, GA native has been phenomenal all season. The shortstop has been a team MVP candidate when it comes to his offensive play. He is leading FSU in batting average and is in the top three for on base percentage, hits, runs scored, RBIs, walks and steals. If he is able to finish the season as FSU’s batting champion, Posey will join some very elite company. In the last 30 years five true freshmen have led the team in hitting and they are a who’s who of FSU baseball. The list includes Eddy Martinez-Esteve (2003), Stephen Drew (2002), Doug Mientkiewicz (1993), Paul Sorrento (1984) and Frank Fazzini (1983). Of those five one has won a World Series, one has been a first round draft pick, two have played in the major leagues and three others have been drafted in the first five rounds. Only two freshmen in the last 20 years have finished the season leading FSU in seven or more offensive categories like Posey is threatening to do and those are two of the most successful Seminoles as far as Major League careers go (Mientkiewicz and Sorrento).
Posey’s 2006 has been remarkable. Outside of one three-game stretch where he did not record a hit in a game versus Miami, Florida and Georgia Tech, the freshman has not gone hitless in back-to-back games at any other time. At one point Posey recorded a hit in 24 of 26 games. He is second on the team in multi-hit games and one of just four Seminoles with four hits in a game. In his 52 starts he has recorded multiple hits 23 times and at least one hit on 18 other occasions. That means Posey has recorded a hit in 79% of the games he has started this year. Combine that with his 33 walks and you can start to see just how valuable Posey has been. The freshman has reached base in 48 of the 52 games he has started.
THE REIGN OF SHANE
Reigning National Player of the Year Shane Robinson may not be repeating the gaudy stats he posted in 2005 but it is hard to knock what he is doing in his junior year. The opening game of the Clemson series was the first time in 2006 where Robinson failed to reach base safely in a game. That ended a streak of 50 straight games where the consensus All-American reached base. It is nothing new for Robinson in his remarkable career. Getting on base is what he does and a case can be made he has done it better than anyone in the country over the last two seasons. He now has posted a 50-game and 62-game streak for reaching base safely and has reached base safely in 142 of his last 146 games. For his FSU career, Robinson has a lifetime on base percentage of .446 but in just the last two seasons that number is almost .500 (.491).