June 21, 1999 - by
Seminoles Bring Balanced Club to Omaha

June 10, 1999


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – In 16 previous unsuccessful trips to the College
World Series, Florida State always had strong hitting or good pitching, but
never at the same time.


Coach Mike Martin says this team is different. And that just might put an
end to the Seminoles’ notoriety as the team with the most CWS appearances
without winning a title.


“I can’t tell you how excited I am,” Martin said. “I feel good about
everything right now. I’m very comfortable with this ballclub. They have the
necessary ingredients.”


The Seminoles (53-12) are making their seventh CWS appearance in nine
years,
opening Saturday against Texas A&M (52-16) in a nationally televised game.


In addition to the other 11 teams he’s coached to Omaha, Martin also
played
for the Seminoles in a College World Series. He’s seen where he was deficient
before and thinks he’s got the right stuff this time around.


“We built this club to play in Omaha,” Martin said. “Last summer we had
one thing in mind, to win the national championship.”


Florida State won 35 of its first 38 games and rolled through the
Atlantic
Coast Conference with a 22-2 record, setting a league mark for victories.


The only blemishes came in April, when the Seminoles lost five of six
games
to top-seeded Miami, and when they failed to reach the final of the ACC
tournament. In the NCAAs, FSU swept through its regional in three games, then
took two straight from Auburn at last week’s super regional.


“I think the strength of our club is balance,” Martin said. “You have to
never forget you win with pitching and we’ve got good pitching.”


The Seminoles led the nation with a 3.01 earned-run average this season.
Starters Nick Stocks, Jon McDonald and freshman Blair Varnes have combined for
a 32-5 record and 318 strikeouts in 325 innings. However, two were hurt when
players piled atop each other to celebrate their CWS berth.


Varnes could miss the series with a ruptured knee ligament suffered in
the
mound celebration. The right side of Stocks’ face remains swollen after being
accidentally kicked.


Meanwhile, McDonald has a swollen ankle after being hit by a line
drive and
forgetting to ice it down.


“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Martin said. “I guess I’m going to
have to ban pileups.”


Veterans Chris Chavez, Mike DiBlasi and Zach Diaz anchor a bullpen
that has
scarcely let any lead disappear. The trio has a combined 2.35 ERA with 14
saves
and 174 strikeouts in 138 innings.


The offense is led by Marshall McDougall, the ACC Player of the Year, who
hit .422 with 25 home runs and 98 RBIs. McDougall gained international
attention in May when he hit six homers in a game at Maryland.


Behind him is Matt Diaz, who batted .385 with 18 homers and 86 RBIs.
Kevin
Cash, back after missing the super regional when he was hit in the face with a
line drive during batting practice, hit .321 with 13 homers and John Halliday
had 10 home runs.


Martin has been criticized for overmanaging in the past, but says he
plans
to sit back and enjoy this series.


“I’ll basically sit there and watch this team play,” he said. “This
ballclub is very, very talented. They’ve got a good grasp of the game and I
don’t intend to get in anybody’s way.”


By BRENT KALLESTAD

Associated Press Writer

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