April 4, 2016 - by
Weather-Weary Noles Set To Embark On Challenging Stretch

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It was the kind of spring break that Mike Martin would rather not have. Thanks to heavy rain last week in Tallahassee and snow over the past few days in Boston, the Florida State baseball team has lost four games due to weather. As a result, the Seminoles have played just three games – one against NC State, Florida and Boston College – in the last 12 days.

“The snowflakes were as big as the lenses in these glasses,” Martin said Monday. “I’ve never seen snowflakes that big. … (I’ve) never had this happen, nor can I remember anybody in the league losing four games to weather.”

FSU is about to make up for lost time in a big way. Beginning with this week’s two-game series against Texas Tech, the Seminoles are set to embark on a stretch in which they will play six games in eight days.

And all of those games are against ranked opponents. The Red Raiders are No. 22 in the country and bring a 20-8 record to Tallahassee. After that, the Seminoles are set to play host to No. 4 Louisville for three games this weekend, then No. 1 Florida next Tuesday.

It’s a demanding stretch, but after spending most of last weekend stuck inside a Boston hotel room, the Seminoles are ready to meet the challenge.

“It’s baseball,” freshman catcher Cal Raleigh said. “That’s what we came here to do. We’re going to have fun with it.”

Added freshman pitcher Cole Sands: “It’s kind of frustrating when you’ve only played three games in the last two weeks. But we’re going to make due and we’re going to look forward to this week.”

It took a lucky twist of fate for the Seminoles to link up with Texas Tech. Searching for potential opponents, FSU pitching coach Mike Bell reached out to his old colleague Tim Tadlock, the TTU coach who previously served with Bell on staff at Oklahoma.

Not only were the Red Raiders looking to play after losing three games due to rainouts, but they also had the ability to charter a plane to Tallahassee on short notice.

And thus, a rare midweek, midseason series with an opponent from the Big 12 conference was born. 

“You really just look to play good, solid teams,” Martin said. “And certainly Texas Tech, ranked 22nd in the nation, is a good, solid team.”

The games won’t count toward FSU’s conference record, which means that the Seminoles could still find themselves in a tough spot at the end of the season if, say, they’re behind in the ACC standings with four fewer games played than a team ahead of them.

And the extended time off has done a number on the Seminoles’ pitching rotation.

Friday starter Mike Compton has been spared, but the rest of the weekend rotation – Drew Carlton and Sands – has combined to throw just 2 1/3 innings since March 20.

Carlton will start Tuesday against TTU and then Saturday against Louisville. Sands is slated to go Wednesday and then Sunday. Martin hopes each will quickly snap back into his routine.

“You’ve just got to be flexible,” Sands said. “Whenever you get the chance to get out there on the mound, you’ve got to take it as a good opportunity to get work in.”

If nothing else, two games against Texas Tech will provide a nice tune-up before a marquee series against the Louisville Cardinals.

Led by junior pitcher Kyle Funkhouser, a former first-round draft pick and third-team All-American, the Cardinals are 22-5. They boast the nation’s third-best team batting average, as well as the second-best team earned runs average.

“We don’t know what the next six games hold,” Martin said. “We don’t know what the rest of the season holds. … That’s fun. It’s truly fun. That’s what (the players) came to Florida State to do.”

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