Feb. 10, 2006
Auburn, AL – The sixth-ranked Seminole baseball team got off to a great start to 2006 by sweeping Charleston Southern last weekend. This weekend they are on the road versus one of the top teams in the SEC as Auburn (1-2) and Florida State (3-0) square off in one of the nation’s top series. This will be the first meeting between the teams since FSU eliminated Auburn from the 2005 NCAA Tournament in the Tallahassee Regional.
“I am sure Auburn has revenge on their mind to say the least,” said junior third baseman Ryne Malone. “They are a very good baseball team. We did a good job against them last year. We both have different ball clubs this year so it should be a good series.”
FSU’s Friday night starter Bryan Henry (1-0) had a huge game versus the Tigers last season. The Tallahassee native pitched the first nine-inning complete game by a Seminole in a year and sent FSU into the winner’s bracket of the regional. The junior hurler was named Regional Most Outstanding Player after his performance. He will get another chance to face Auburn Friday at 5:00 p.m. EST.
“It will be fun to see Auburn again,” said Henry. “We knocked them out of the tournament last season so we are going into their park with a bull’s eye on our chest. They want to get us back. It will be a big challenge for us but that will be fun.”
Henry was FSU’s best starter on the road in 2005. Last season he was 4-2 with a 2.61 ERA away from home. Henry was the only FSU starter with a road ERA below 3.00 and he led all starters in road victories. The ace of the staff in 2005, Henry will have his hands full looking to out duel Tiger starter Chris Dennis (1-0) who gave up just one hit and no runs in six innings of work last Friday versus VMI.
“I couldn’t tell you why I had success on the road,” said Henry. “I try to do the same thing I do every time out no matter where I am at. I just need to give my defense the chance to make plays behind me and if they do that we will be alright. Pitching and defense are the keys because I know our offense can find a way to scrap out a few runs.”
FSU has traditionally opened up very strong on the road. Of the squad’s last 14 season opening road trips, they have only lost two and both came on trips to face Pac-10 teams. This is the first time in head coach Mike Martin’s career that he has opened a road schedule at the park of an SEC team and it is the first time Florida State has played at Auburn since April of 1983. The Tigers are coming off a season-opening series against VMI where they dropped two of the three games to the upstart Keydets.
“Going on the road presents a lot of challenges,” said Martin. “Especially versus a team as talented as Auburn is after they lost two out of three opening weekend makes this series even more interesting. Auburn is young but I guarantee you they are not real happy right now after losing two out of three to VMI.
“With us traveling to their park it is going to create a lot of excitement for their fans. Their adrenaline will be at an all-time high.”
The Seminoles will come into this series full of confidence after a strong opening weekend. On top of sweeping Charleston Southern, the team hit .377, scored 33 runs, recorded 31 RBIs and slugged .575. The offense was fueled by the top five hitters in the line-up who combined to hit .528 and slug .745. They scored 23 runs and knocked in 19.
“The big thing is that we have confidence going into this series,” said. “They way we are playing now makes us feel good. We can’t take too much from last week or our series with Auburn last year though because they have a very different squad from the team we saw in Regionals.”
Another reason the Seminoles will come into the weekend feeling confident is the way the other hitters in the line-up preformed outside of just the top five. New leftfielder Mark Gildea played for the first time after being redshirted in 2005 and hit .333 with a homerun and a team-leading five RBIs. Dennis Guinn, who did not record a hit in 11 at bats last year, had three base knocks in 12 at bats opening weekend.
“It feels good to get those first series of the year jitters out of the way,” said Guinn. “Going to a place like Auburn will be tough because we are going into a great team’s ballpark. It is going to be a challenge but it will be fun. We are excited to play a big road series this weekend.”
The Seminoles and Tigers get underway later today and fans can follow all the action over the Internet. Game Tracker will be available for the contest along with a live radio broadcast available on WFLA locally and free online at seminoles.com.