April 15, 2005
“It is a little early when you have 24 ballgames to play that you take one series and call it crucial,” said Florida State head coach Mike Martin. “This is a fun series. It is certainly important. You are playing an ACC team but it isn’t going to make or break anybody’s season. I am anxious to see how we are going to play.
“There is no question though that every game down the stretch here is very important. We need to position ourselves for a good seed in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. We also have to position ourselves for a spot in the postseason. The only way we can accomplish either one of those things is to win.”
The Seminoles not only have to face one of the country’s top teams but they have to do it in Atlanta. Florida State has had its troubles playing away from Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium this year. FSU is just 8-4 on the road this season partly because the staff ERA is almost two runs higher on the road than it is at home.
“We have not been a good road team this year,” said Martin. “We lost to Duke, we lost to Wake and we lost to Hawai’i. It is time to see if we can get it done on the road.”
Making that task even harder is that FSU will see on of the nation’s most prolific offenses tonight. The Yellow Jackets lead the ACC with a .348 batting average and they have the third-highest team batting average in all of the NCAA. They are also sixth in the country in home runs per game and slugging percentage.
“I would say this Georgia Tech team is right up there with the best they’ve had,” said Martin. “I have not seen their young pitchers but they have pitched very well against good teams. What really showed me what Georgia Tech is all about is when they went to Miami and lost 20-1 and came back to win the next two and take the series. That is quite a character builder.”
The Seminoles will be looking for their offense to keep up its recent trend as far as the long ball is concerned in hopes of keeping up with a Tech team that goes yard on an average of 1.45 times a game. In the last 14 games FSU has hit 13 homers. During that stretch the Seminoles have had two, three homer games, one of which was actually a three home run inning. Ten different players have hit round trippers in the last 14 games compared to just eight in the first 27 games.
Part of the reason for FSU’s recent power surge is sophomore Ryne Malone. In the last six games Malone has 10 extra base hits including seven doubles, a triple and two homers. The sophomore, who is primarily a first baseman but played outfield and third this season, is on an absolute tear. In the last 10 games, Malone is hitting .472 with 10 of his 17 hits going for extra bases (seven doubles, a triple and two homers). He is slugging .889 over this stretch and has 11 RBIs.
“Ryne is a guy that plays the game with a lot of confidence,” said Martin. “When you struggle, I don’t care who you are, you look out there and see nothing but people. You hit a ball hard and it goes right at somebody. Ryne is hitting a very solid .297 because he has had a lot of ropes he has hit right at people.”
Tonight’s series opener will be carried live by Fox Sports South. All three games this weekend will be broadcast live. Saturday’s game is the ACC Game of the Week and will be shown on various cable networks including Sun Sports in Tallahassee. Sun Sports will also carry Sunday’s series finale. Game Tracker will be available for all FSU’s 2005 games along with Steve Melewski’s live radio broadcast available on WFLA locally and on the Internet at seminoles.com.