April 14, 2006
Tallahassee, FL – For the first time as ACC rivals second-ranked Florida State and No. 14 Miami will play a three game series at Mike Martin Field starting this evening at 7:00 p.m. Last season the Canes and Seminoles saw a 26-year streak come to an end when the teams did not play a game in Tallahassee as Miami officially made the move from rival to conference rival. While the traditional home and home, six-game set between the teams came to an end last year that hasn’t taken anything away from of one of college baseball’s best series.
“This club knows every game is important,” said FSU Head Coach Mike Martin. “Certainly this series with Miami is the biggest series of our schedule. We don’t hide that fact. This is what it is all about.”
The series between the Seminoles and Hurricanes dates back to 1951 and the two teams have played more games versus one another than any other school. Every year from 1979-2004 the teams had played in each others stadium. On top of 230 regular season meetings, the teams have met 12 times in postseason play including four games in Omaha at the College World Series. The two schools have combined to play in 77 NCAA Tournaments, 39 College World Series and the last time the Canes and Seminoles weren’t in the NCAA Tournament at the same time was 1977.
“Miami is one of our biggest rivals,” said Tallahassee native Bryan Henry. “You always get pumped top play those guys. I have been coming to the Miami series for a long time now. It is just a different atmosphere when Miami comes to town. It will be rowdy.”
The Hurricanes enter tonight’s game having lost six of their previous eight games. Five of those losses came to top 10 teams in Clemson and North Carolina. Miami is unranked in two of the four major college baseball polls but FSU players and coaches know that is not indicative of the Miami team they will see when the series opens tonight.
“Any time you play Miami, no matter what has happened leading up to the games, it is the biggest series of the year for both teams,” said Martin. “Miami has traditionally played well when they have come in here. It is a shame we are not able to play six games versus them anymore. We are just glad we are playing these three at our place.”
“They have always been a tough team no matter what their rank or record is,” said senior Matt DiBlasi. “They will come in wanting to take the series from us in our place. Is it going to be an exciting series. It is a great rivalry no matter what both teams records are.”
Although UM may be coming into the weekend having lost back-to-back series at home, the Canes have had success versus FSU as of late. The Canes took the first ever ACC series between the clubs last year and have won three straight series versus FSU. After the Seminoles won nine of 11 games from Miami, the Hurricanes have answered back by winning six of the last eight. Miami has won three straight series in the rivalry and will attempt to win their fourth straight series for just the third time in the history of the rivalry. Both previous times the Canes got that fourth straight series victory it came in Tallahassee.
“We are ready to give something back to them,” said DiBlasi. “We are excited for the opportunity to play a team like Miami. It will be a great measuring stick for where we are so far.”
Bryan Henry (8-1) will open the series on the mound for the Seminoles as his career as an FSU starter comes full circle. Last season Henry had a huge mid-week win over Florida but didn’t make a full-time move into the starting rotation until the finale of the Miami series. The Seminoles had lost the first two games to UM in Coral Gables before Henry stepped on the mound Sunday and pitched a gem. Henry went eight innings versus the Canes allowing just one run and only four hits without issuing a walk. FSU won that game 13-1 and Henry has taken the hill to open every three game series since.
“I guess this will be the year anniversary since my move into pitching on the weekends,” said Henry. “It has been fun. I have had a chance to get a little better than I was last year. We just need to keep doing what we have been doing all year.
“I am going to go out there and try to set the tone. I am going to try to do what I have been doing and let my defense work behind me. Hopefully things will work out for the best.”
This is the first of two huge back-to-back home series for FSU with No. 10 Georgia Tech set to come to town next weekend. In between those games will be a Wednesday night contest with Florida. Florida State has just 14 home games remaining in the 2006 regular season and this upcoming stretch of 11 in a row at Dick Howser Stadium will be a big factor in determining FSU’s postseason fate.
“Home field advantage is so big in this league,” said Henry. “It is big for us to have those guys come up here this year. We are looking forward to it. We know it will be a dogfight all weekend and the rest of the way. It will be fun.”
“We can’t go out there thinking this series will be the difference in us accomplishing our goals,” said Martin of the Miami series. “This is a very important series. We need to play well. We need to win but we are playing on of the top teams in the country. We aren’t playing a team that is going to make mistakes and give you a ball game. If you beat them, then you have outplayed them.”
First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. tonight. Tickets are sold out for Saturday’s game but there are still seats available for tonight and Sunday. Steve Melewski will bring fans the call live on 1270 WFLA AM in Tallahassee. Saturday’s game will be carried live on FSN Florida and Sunday’s finale will be shown live on SUN Sports. 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.