March 23, 2006
Florida State leads the overall series 56-17 (.767)…Florida State has a .811 home winning percentage (30-7) against Duke…since joining the ACC in 1992, the Seminoles have won 13 of 14 series, with over half of them (7) being three game sweeps…Florida State has lost only one game to the Blue Devils since 2001 posting a record of 14-1…Florida State has not lost a game at Dick Howser Stadium against Duke since 1994 (4-1) a run of 14 straight games…the current home winning streak versus the Blue Devils is the second longest against an ACC opponent (Virginia Tech has not won at Dick Howser since 1989)…the Seminoles 14 game winning streak from 2001-2005, which ended in Durham last season, is the third longest streak against an ACC opponent (27 straight wins against Maryland, 1998-Current, 15 vs. Virginia Tech 1989-2006)
WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR
Florida State took 2 of 3 from the Blue Devils by scores of 5-3, 11-4, and 7-8…Florida State’s loss in the finale of the series broke a 14 game winning streak for the Seminoles…the loss was also Florida State’s first in Durham since 2001…Gibbs Chapman hit a two-run blast to break open a 3-3 tie in the ninth to give Florida State the victory in the first game…Matt DiBlasi picked up his first win of his career, and Tyler Chambliss earned his seventh save of the season…due to expected rain, the third game was moved up, and the two teams played a Saturday doubleheader…in the first game, Florida State scored in double digits versus Duke for the first time since 2004 with an 11-4 victory…Brant Peacher paced the Seminoles by going 4-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs…Peacher tied single game career highs in hits and home runs in the game…Jack Rye and Ryne Jernigan also went yard for the Seminoles in the blowout victory…Rye’s home run was the first of his collegiate career…Michael Hyde picked up his sixth win of the season with a strong 5 2/3 innings, giving up all four runs while striking out four Blue Devils…in the finale, Florida State mustered a strong rally after falling behind 5-0, but eventually lost 8-7…Bryan Henry gave a valiant effort in relief of starter Mark Sauls, pitching 5 2/3 and striking out six in taking the loss…Duke came out of the gate hot, picking up five runs in the first inning…Florida State tied it in the fifth, as Brant Peacher and Gibbs Chapman each had two RBIs in the rally…in the ninth, with Duke leading 8-5, Jack Rye and Josh Spivey each had RBIs to cut the lead to 8-7, but the Seminoles could get no closer.
Despite having their 14 game winning streak snapped against the Blue Devils last year, an even bigger streak was set by a Seminole in Durham. During the three game series, consensus first team All-American Shane Robinson set a new FSU record by hitting safely in his 35th straight game. Robinson set the record in the third inning of the series opener, with an infield single. By the end of the series, the center fielder had extended his new record to 37 games, as he hit a first-inning double in FSU’s 11-4 victory, and had his first fifth-inning hit of the streak with an RBI single in the 8-7 loss.
WHO TO WATCH FOR
Ryne Malone led all returning players with a .444 batting average and two RBIs during the three game series…Matt DiBlasi picked up his first career win and struck out both batters that he faced in the series…Barret Browning recorded six strikeouts in six innings of work against Duke…Bryan Henry, who pitched in both games of the doubleheader, led the team with seven strikeouts and gave up only two runs in 6 2/3 innings…Shane Robinson, who set a new school record for most consecutive games with a hit during last years set, batted .333 for the Seminoles and knocked in two runs…Tony Thomas Jr. paced FSU by getting on base as the leadoff hitter 4 of 5 times (.800)
IF LAST YEAR WAS AN INDICATION
LOOK FOR FSU TO…
FRIDAY: Bryan Henry will look to continue his dominance when he takes the hill Friday night. This will be the 12th Friday night start of the junior’s two-year career. As good as Henry was in 2005, he is even better so far in 2006. He is 6-0 with a 1.41 ERA and opponents are hitting just .224 off the right-hander. The biggest key to Henry’s success this year has been his control. He has 48 strikeouts and just seven walks and has yet to throw a wild pitch or hit a batter. He is on pace to break the single season record for K:BB, which is 6:1 and was set in 1969. Only one FSU pitcher has ever even recorded a ratio of six K’s per walk and that was record-holder Jeff Hill. Henry just does not allow runners to reach base. When you combine his seven walks with a .191 opponent batting average when the bases are empty, it is easy to see why he has allowed just seven earned runs in almost 45 innings. Combine that with the fact only 24% of lead-off runners reach versus the junior and you can see that he makes opponents earn everything they get. Henry’s hallmark is consistency and his stats bare that out. Left-handers hit .224 versus him and right-handers just .223. Teams just have no statistical advantage when Henry is on the mound. Even worse than facing Henry is facing him at Mike Martin Field. The junior is 5-0 at home with a 1.36 ERA. All three of his combined shutouts this season have come at home. The last time Henry lost at Mike Martin Field was April 3, 2005 in the first home start of his career. He has won nine straight starts at home. That loss in 2005 was the second game of a doubleheader versus Clemson in which Henry played all nine innings of the first game at third base. This season Henry’s ERA is a team-best 1.38 at home and he is even tougher on right handers who hit only .205 against him. He is averaging nearly 10 K’s per nine innings at Dick Howser Stadium
SATURDAY: Tyler Chambliss is coming off the best back-to-back games of his young career as a starter. The junior is getting better and better each time out and also showing he is capable of pitching deeper into games every outing. In the first five starts of the season Chambliss never made it past 6 1/3 innings, in his last two starts he has gone nine and seven. Not only has he had long outings he has been dominant. In his last two starts he has fanned 25 batters and allowed just three runs. After becoming the first Seminole since 1997 to fan 15 or more batters in a game two weeks ago versus Maryland, he fanned 10 more against Virginia Tech making him the first FSU pitcher since 1999 with back-to-back double digit K’s. Chambliss credits the return to form of his curveball for the success he has had recently. In his first five starts when he said his curve wasn’t where he wanted it, he fanned 25 batters total. In the last two games he has equaled that number. The Live Oak native has dominated right-handed hitters this season who are batting just .179 versus him. Chambliss has also been very tough with runners on base as opponents are hitting only .221 and with nobody on where they average just .191. He is doing even better in closing out innings as teams hit .176 with two away in any given frame. Like Henry, Chambliss has been even better pitching at home this year. The junior is 3-0 at home with a 1.40 ERA. He has 35 K’s and just 12 walks. Teams are hitting just .185 off of him at Mike Martin Field. Chambliss has also been FSU’s best pitcher in conference play so far in 2006. He is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in ACC games and has fanned 25 batters compared to just six walks. Conference opponents hit just .179 against him. He is averaging eight innings per start in conference play and more than 14 K’s per nine innings.
SUNDAY: Michael Hyde will take the hill Sunday and look to bounce back from his shortest start of the season. Versus Virginia Tech, Hyde was moved up a day in the rotation due to Chambliss’ illness and he lasted just 2 1/3 while giving up three runs. It was the first time all season, whether he was starting or coming off the bench, that the Tallahassee native did not strike out a batter. It was the most runs he had allowed since his first outing of the year and ended a streak of three straight impressive starts. Coming into the Virginia Tech series, Hyde moved into the starting rotation versus Minnesota. In his first three starts of the year he went 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA. Opponents hit just .211 off of him and he struck out 10 batters while issuing six walks. During that stretch right-handers hit just .175 versus Hyde and with runners on base teams hit a measly .148. In his outing versus Virginia Tech righties hit .667 off the junior and the Hokies batted .400 with runners on base. It wasn’t terribly surprising to see Hyde’s numbers in the Virginia Tech game as he was a much better pitcher at home in 2005 than he was on the road. Last season at Mike Martin Field, Hyde went 4-1 with a 3.71 ERA. He had 46 K’s and 24 walks while opponents hit .259 against him. He averaged 5 2/3 innings per start and six K’s per nine innings. His numbers on the road were quite different. While he still had a winning record (2-1), his road ERA was more than double of his home ERA (7.66) and teams batted over 70 points higher (.330). He averaged just 3 ½ innings per start and over 12 hits per nine innings. That trend has held true in 2006 as all four of Hyde’s wins have come at Mike Martin Field where his ERA is an almost identical 3.72 compared to 2005. While in his only road start this season he has posted an ERA of 11.57. Hyde did pitch pretty well against ACC foes last season going 2-0 with a 5.35 ERA. He had a K:BB ratio of almost 2:1 (28:15) and held some of FSU’s best competition to a .282 bating average.
START WITH THE STARTERS
One of the main reasons for FSU’s rise to the top of the polls has to be the starting pitching. After Barret Browning’s win Wednesday night at Jacksonville, the FSU starters ran their record to 21-0 on the season with a combined ERA of 2.34 and they have collected 14 quality starts in 24 games. Bryan Henry, Tyler Chambliss and Browning each have ERA’s below 2.62 and none of the four, Michael Hyde included, has given up more than 11 earned runs this season. In their last 12 games, the Seminole starters have allowed two earned runs or less 10 times and in seven of those 12 starts they have allowed just one earned run or less. During this 12 game run, they have posted a 10-0 record and an ERA of just 2.24. In the last 12 games not a single FSU starter has allowed opponents to hit over .240 with runners on base. Browning, Chambliss, Henry and Hyde have each posted some amazing numbers over the last 12 games. Browning for example has held opponents to a .133 batting average with runners on base since the Brown series started March 3. Chambliss has averaged over 13 K’s per nine innings over the same stretch. Hyde has held left-handed batters to a .176 batting average. While all those stats are impressive, none matches what Henry has done as he has fanned 20 batters and issued just one walk.
The legend of Seminole pitcher Bryan Henry continues to grow each time he takes the mound. The former third baseman turned Seminole ace has so many storylines. From his wins over Florida and Miami in the same week to his complete game victory in NCAA Regionals over Auburn, he has done it all. The Tallahassee product has already posted a scoreless inning streak of over 27 innings this year and a streak of 16 consecutive innings without a walk. He had eight consecutive quality starts last season and at one point won eight straight games. Henry is challenging the single season record for K:BB ratio and is already in the top three for lifetime ERA at FSU but nothing may be more impressive than the legacy he is carving out for himself in ACC play. As a starter in conference games, Henry is 7-1 with an ERA of 1.86. He has recorded wins over Miami, North Carolina, Virginia and NC State to name just a few. The only game he lost was his first ever ACC start versus Clemson after playing nine innings at third he took the hill for game two of a doubleheader. Since that Clemson game, Henry has won all seven of his starts and allowed one earned run or less in six of those outings. He has pitched at least six innings in his last seven conference games and posted a 1.46 ERA. He has 29 strikeouts compared to just nine walks and only Maryland has scored more than one earned run off of him.
Bryan Henry’s career as a starter has been pretty amazing. With the exception of his first ever ACC start and a rough outing in Super Regionals versus the Gators, it has been near flawless. Henry enters this weekend’s series with Duke on 14-game win streak in the regular season. His last regular season loss was his first ACC start ever versus Clemson April 3, 2005 meaning he is coming up on a full calendar year since he last lost a regular season game. Even with that setback in Gainesville, Henry is 14-1 in his last 15 decisions. He has a 1.95 lifetime ERA and a career K:BB ratio better than 4:1.
THE PATIENCE OF YOUTH?
Normally when you talk about true freshmen the last thing you associate with that group is patience at the plate but the 2006 Seminole freshmen are challenging that perception. Buster Posey, Kyle Maxie, Tommy Oravetz, Sean Stuyverson and Brady Thomas are doing a great job at the plate whether their role is an everyday starter like Posey, a fill-in for an injured starter like Maxie or a part-time starter like Oravetz. This group has shown incredible patience at the plate considering their college careers are just 24 games old. As a group, the FSU freshmen have drawn 31 walks, been hit by seven pitches and struck out just 27 times. Despite starting only 34 combined games, the freshmen have 25% of the team’s hit by pitches and 23% of the teams walks compared to just 18% of the K’s. Posey and Oravetz both have on base percentages above .400 and Maxie in his four starts behind the plate has already drawn five walks and been hit by a pitch in only 12 at bats.
LOCK, STOCKS AND CHAMBLISS?
When FSU starter Tyler Chambliss takes the mound Saturday he can join some elite company in FSU baseball history. After becoming the first Seminole since 1997 to fan 15 or more batters in a game two weeks ago versus Maryland, he fanned 10 more against Virginia Tech making him the first FSU pitcher since 1999 with back-to-back double digit K’s. In his first five starts he fanned 25 batters total. In the last two games he has equaled that number. If he is able to get 10 or more K’s versus Duke this weekend, Chambliss would become just the fourth Seminole ever to record three straight games with double digit strikeouts. Nick Stocks was the last pitcher to pull off this feat and he did it in 1999. The only other Seminole pitchers to fan 10 or more in three straight appearances were Wayne Vincent in 1966 and Larry Jones in 1975. Stocks was the only Seminole pitcher to do that versus three straight conference opponents, an opportunity Chambliss will have as well on Saturday. Chambliss is already in pretty elite company with back-to-back games with double digit K’s. He and Stocks are the only FSU pitchers to pull that off in the last 30 years.
THAT WAS RARE
Wednesday night’s win in Jacksonville was rare for FSU. Not because they beat the Dolphins, it was the 14th consecutive time they have done that, but the way they went about doing it was not typical for the 2006 Seminoles. FSU had only been held to five hits or less two times all season before the JU game and FSU went 1-1 in those previous two contests. Four different JU pitchers limited FSU to five hits marking just the fifth time in 24 games the Seminoles did not record double digit hits. The Dolphins also limited the Seminoles to just one extra base hit, a Ryan Strauss double. It was just the second time in the last 20 games FSU had been held to only one extra base hit and no team this season has held FSU without an extra base hit. Give JU credit considering the Seminoles had collected 26 extra base hits in their last five games coming into Jacksonville Wednesday night.
Although there is a lot of experience on the 2006 Seminole team, it is still a young group. Since the injury to Danny Diaz, the Seminoles are regularly starting seven freshmen or sophomores in their line-up and there is not a single senior starting in the field. With that much youth in the line-up the team’s 22-2 record and .324 batting average are impressive but nothing stands out more than the .972 fielding percentage. FSU is now starting a true freshman at catcher and shortstop and sophomores at first, second and in left and right field. Despite so much youth at almost every position the Seminoles have played error-free ball in nine of 24 games this season and committed one error or less 17 times. This year’s team is off to the best start since 2001 when it comes to fielding percentage. Through the first 24 games of a season, the 2006 team is the only one over the last six years with a fielding percentage above .970. The highest fielding percentage for an entire season in the Mike Martin era was .973 in 1994. The 2005 squad posted the second-best fielding percentage in the Martin era at .967 and this could become just the second time in more than 25 years the Seminoles have posted a fielding percentage of .965 or better in back-to-back seasons. The last teams to do that were the 1993 and 1994 squads.
SEVEN OVER THREE
Florida State will enter this weekend’s series with Duke hitting .324 as a team, which would be the sixth-highest average in school history if it held up. With conference series versus North Carolina, Miami, Georgia Tech, Clemson and NC State just to name a few still on the horizon, that number may come down some but it doesn’t diminish how well this team is hitting. Eight of FSU’s nine regular starters are hitting above .300 and six are hitting .348 or better. With Ryan Staruss’ addition to the starting line-up, FSU has two .400 hitters as he joins Shane Robinson. The Seminoles projected starting line-up for this weekend is hitting a combined .364 on the season.
SOMEONE SCORE IN THE FIRST
The 2006 Seminoles have done a pretty good job of getting on the board early this season. Florida State has scored in the first inning 10 times this year and gone 9-1 in those games. That stat isn’t that surprising but what is a shocker is that the seven times and opponent has scored in the first inning FSU has gone on to win all of those games. So whenever a run is scored in the first frame it is a good sign for the Seminoles no matter who scores it since FSU is 16-1 anytime somebody gets on the board to start a ballgame.