March 17, 2005
Tallahassee, FL – The 13th-ranked FSU baseball team will open conference play on Sun Sports live Friday night. The first-ever ACC series with Virginia Tech starts at 6:00 p.m. Friday and continues with a 6:00 p.m. game Saturday and a 1:00 p.m. series finale Sunday. Florida State (21-4, 1-0) is 20-4 all-time against Virginia Tech (6-5, 1-3) and is in the midst of an 11-game winning streak against the Hokies.
Florida State and Virginia Tech have not met since 1991. The Seminoles swept that three-game series in Tallahassee by a combined score of 18-4. This is already the third ACC series for Virginia Tech while it is the first conference action of 2005 for FSU. After getting off to a 21-4 start, senior captain Aaron Cheesman knows that the season really starts Friday.
“Conference series are so important because you are trying to set yourself up as far as seeding in the ACC Tournament,” said Cheesman. “Hopefully you perform well in a conference as strong as the ACC it also sets you up when it comes to NCAA Regionals.
“There is just more importance to any series with a conference opponent. It doesn’t matter that this is our first series with Virginia Tech as an ACC opponent. Any team with ACC next to it carries the same weight whether it is their first year or 20th year in the conference.”
The Seminoles are looking to bounce back after their 13-game winning streak was halted in a three-game sweep at the hands of the University of Hawaii. It was just the 18th time an FSU team has been swept by a non-conference opponent. Last year the Seminoles lost three straight in Arizona to the Sun Devils and responded by winning five in a row.
“The key is to just forget about what happened,” said Cheesman. “We have 30 more regular season games left that we have to be ready for. With the ACC starting now, our season really starts this weekend. We have to be focused on getting off to a good start in ACC play.”
Traditionally FSU has been very good at focusing on ACC play, especially in conference openers. Since joining the ACC in 1992, Florida State is 32-4 in ACC opening series. FSU has never lost an ACC opening series and has swept its opener eight times. If you only include ACC home openers, the Seminoles are an amazing 33-3. Florida State is on a 25-game home winning streak when it comes to the opening weekend of ACC play. The last time the Garnet & Gold lost a conference game at home on opening weekend was 1995 to Wake Forest.
If FSU is to continue that streak, it will be up to first-year starter Barret Browning who is making the first Friday night start of his FSU career. The junior from Jesup, GA is 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA. The Seminoles are 5-1 in games he starts and he is yet to allow more than two runs in any of his eight appearances in 2005. In his last two outings he has had his two highest strikeout totals of the year.
“It is pretty exciting,” said Browning. “It is definitely the situation I wanted to be in eventually when I came here. I knew I wouldn’t be a Friday starter right away. I knew I would have to earn it. I am glad to get the opportunity to pitch on a Friday in front of all these fans and on TV. It is an honor and I feel blessed to have the opportunity. I am going to go out and have a good time and make the best of this chance. I just want to give my team an opportunity to win.”
Browning is one of as many as 10 or more first year players that will be experiencing ACC play for the first time in their careers this weekend. The Seminole newcomers have played a huge role in the team’s 21-4 start but none has experienced the intensity of ACC play.
“I approach every game like it is a big game,” said Browning. “But pitching in the first ACC series of the year is meaningful. It is time to step it up and let everybody know what Florida State is about. It is time for this team to get down to business and hopefully I can get out there and set the tone. Hopefully I can set an example Friday that the team can follow the rest of the weekend.”
All three of this weekend’s games will be available on WFLA 1270 locally and on Internet radio. Game Tracker will also be up and running for the series. All the links you need are located on the official athletic website for FSU athletics at seminoles.com.
NOTES – Sunday is “Take A Kid To The Game” day at Dick Howser Stadium. Receive 1 FREE youth ticket with the purchase of one adult ticket at the Dick Howser Stadium Ticket Office on game day…the dedication ceremony where the field will be officially named after FSU head coach Mike Martin is set for Saturday, April 2 versus Clemson. Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium will be unveiled at a pre-game ceremony before the 7:00 p.m. first pitch.