March 29, 2006 - by
WEEKLY RELEASE: No. 1 FSU Heads To Chapel Hill To Face Sixth-Ranked Tar Heels

March 29, 2006

FREE Live Audio Broadcast | Game Tracker | UNC Game Notes

Florida State leads the overall series vs. North Carolina 52-19. North Carolina is one of five ACC teams that Florida State has defeated more than 50 times (Miami -130, Duke – 59, Clemson – 57, Georgia Tech – 56). The Seminoles have won the last five games against the Tar Heels and with two more wins, would tie their longest winning streak against North Carolina with seven (1996-1997, 1998-2000). Florida State leads the Tar Heels 11-10 in games played at Boshamer Stadium, with the Tar Heels taking two of three the last time the teams met in Chapel Hill. Overall, Florida State has won 13 of 16 three game series but North Carolina has taken two of those series victories on their home turf. This will be FSU’s first series of the year versus a ranked opponent as the Heels check in anywhere between six and eight in the four major polls. On top of playing a consensus top 10 team, the Seminoles have to do it on the road. While the Seminoles are 20-0 at home this season, they are just 5-2 on the road so far. The last time FSU won a series in Chapel Hill was in 2000 and the last time they swept the Tar Heels in their own stadium was 1996. That was the only time the Seminoles ever swept UNC in Chapel Hill.

2006 FSU UNC
Games 28 26
W-L 26-2 21-5
Avg. .333 .328
Runs 265 205
Hits 327 298
Dbls 68 56
Trpls 12 1
HRs 38 33
RBIs 248 180
Slg % .542 .501
BB 151 103
K 172 139
SB 52 43
ERA 3.05 3.63

Florida State will start ace Bryan Henry Friday night in what will be a match-up of two of the ACC’s best when he faces off with Andrew Miller. Henry has been nothing short of remarkable this season with a 7-0 record and a 1.52 ERA. This will be the ninth Friday night start of the season for Henry. Last year FSU’s Barret Browning and Michael Hyde were first and second for Friday night starts and their combined total for the year was nine equaling the amount of starts Henry has made in a series opener through just two months this season. Last time out Henry flirted with the first no-hitter for No. 1 FSU since February 18, 1998 as he entered the ninth inning without a hit or a walk. The only Duke batter to reach base in the first eight innings got on via an error but the Tallahassee native was unable to finish off the no-hitter after giving up a single to open the ninth. Henry still picked up the win improving to 7-0 as he won his seventh consecutive ACC start. He threw 113 pitches in 8 2/3 innings of which 80 were strikes. He did not issue a free pass while fanning a career high 12 batters. The junior has now made nine starts this season and pitched 53 1/3 innings. He has not allowed a run in four of those nine games and in the five games in which an opponent has scored on him, none have scored in more than one inning. Of the 53-plus innings Henry has pitched he has only allowed a team to score in four of those frames, just 7.5% of his total innings. Henry has proven over and over again he deserves the role as FSU’s starter in the first game of a series. When Henry starts the first game of a series for the Seminoles, Florida State is 12-1 in those contests. The only time Florida State has lost the first game of a series Henry started came at Auburn and the junior went six innings in that game giving up just two runs without walking a batter and fanning six. Henry has started two road games this year and his ERA is even lower away from home. In six starts at Mike Martin Field Henry has posted an ERA of 1.52 but that number is slightly lower on the road at 1.50. Henry has walked just one batter on the road this season and teams are hitting just .233 off of him in away games. The Tallahassee native has been very tough on lefties, especially in road games this year. When pitching on the road, Henry has held left-handed batters to a .143 average. That is 74 points below what lefties hit against Henry at home. While Henry’s ERA in conference games is 2.49, almost a run higher than his overall ERA, that mainly stems from one late inning versus Maryland in a game the Seminoles had under control. When you look at Henry’s other stats versus ACC opponents the numbers are pretty impressive. In three ACC games, Henry has fanned 25 batters and walked just one while holding opponents to a .195 average.

The Seminoles will send their “second ace” to the hill Saturday in Tyler Chambliss. The former All-ACC closer is in the midst of an undoubtedly successful transition to starting pitcher. The junior cruised for seven innings in his last outing allowing just one earned run. One night after Bryan Henry carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning while striking out 12 Blue Devils, Chambliss continued to show he is more than just a “two” in FSU’s vaunted 1-2 combination. The Live Oak, FL native fanned eight more batters as he raised his K total to 59 on the year. Chambliss will enter the game versus the Heels with a 7-0 record and 1.90 ERA. In his last three starts, all against ACC teams, he has fanned 33 batters. The last FSU pitcher to strike out that many conference batters in three straight starts was Nick Stocks in 1999 when he fanned 34 in games versus Virginia, NC State and UNC. Chambliss has been FSU’s best pitcher statistically in conference games with a 3-0 record and a team-best 1.57 ERA. He is holding ACC opponents to a .198 batting average and right-handers are hitting just .188 against him. Chambliss has been very tough to hit with runners on in his three ACC starts limiting the opposition to a .145 average. That is a key stat considering 39% of lead-off hitters are reaching versus the junior. Chambliss has pitched better at home than on the road this year but still has very strong numbers in away games. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in road games with 16 K’s and seven walks. As the season has progressed Chambliss has gotten stronger as he adjusts to longer outings. In his first three starts of the year Chambliss went exactly six innings, in his fourth start he went 6 1/3 and his last three starts have been a nine inning and two seven inning outings. The pitcher with the “best breaking ball in the ACC” according to Baseball America has been throwing it very well as of late and that is reflected in his strikeout totals. Chambliss averaged eight K’s per nine innings in his first six appearances of the season but that average has grown to almost 13 K’s in his last three outings.

Barret Browning is expected to return to the weekend rotation with a Sunday start versus the Heels. It will be the first weekend start for the senior since a Saturday, March 4 start versus Brown. Browning pitched Tuesday night versus UNF and will look to bounce back on four days rest to throw in the finale. Versus the Ospreys Browning showed a lot of toughness when a botched double play ball opened the door for a six-run second inning. The Jessup, GA native shook off the bad frame and came back out to pitch 2 1/3 more innings and when he left the game FSU was leading 9-8. While the no decision stopped Browning’s consecutive win streak at five, he has shown the coaches enough over his last four starts to move back into the weekend rotation. In his last four starts, Browning has allowed one run or less three times. The senior has done much better as of late with his control. After walking six and striking out six in his first two starts, Browning has fanned 19 and walked just seven in his last five games. While his K:BB ratio has improved significantly there are still a couple areas Browning would like to see improved. Opponents are hitting .315 and he has given up more doubles (10) and extra base hits (11) than anyone on the team. He is allowing leadoff hitters to reach almost 40% of the time and opponents hit .375 off Browning with the bases empty. The left-hander is doing a good job once runners get on as he is limiting teams to a .254 average with men on. Another good sign is that Browning pitched very well in his first and only road game in 2006. Versus Jacksonville, Browning went 5 1/3 and allowed just one run versus a strong JU line-up. If Browning takes the mound Sunday, it will be his first start of the season in a conference game. Last season he started nine ACC games and went 2-4 with a 4.73 ERA. Lead-off hitters were Browning’s Achilles heel in ACC games last season as they reached base 49% of the time but once again the senior responded well in those situations holding opponents to a .218 average with runners on base.

Florida State swept the regular season series against the Tar Heels by scores of 9-4, 6-5 and 7-6 on top of a 3-2 win in the ACC Tournament last year. The three regular season victories marked the fifth time Florida State has swept North Carolina in a three game series, and the first since 2001. In game one, Bryan Henry picked up his seventh win of the season, and fifth in a row, with a seven inning, five hit performance. Ryne Malone, Tony Thomas Jr. and Josh Spivey all hit home runs for the Seminoles as they took game one 9-4, with Spivey’s being the first of his career. Games two and three had plenty of drama, as FSU won both games in walk-off fashion. In game two, Ryne Malone hit his first career walk-off home run, a three run shot in the bottom of the ninth that led the Seminoles to a 6-5 victory. Mark Sauls pitched 6 2/3 strong innings for the Seminoles, and Kevin Lynch had a perfect ninth inning to earn his ninth victory of the season. The loss was the first of the season for the Tar Heels when entering the ninth inning with the lead. In the finale, the two teams battled for 11 innings before Aaron Cheesman hit a game-winning single in his final regular season home game as a Seminole. The Seminole bullpen led the way, as Brian Chambers, Barret Browning, and Tyler Chambliss combined to throw eight innings, giving up nine hits, one run, while striking out eight. Tyler Chambliss, who blanked the Tar Heels for 3 1/3 innings, earned his sixth victory of the year to finish the sweep.

2005 FSU vs UNC
Games 4 4
W-L 4-0 0-4
Avg. .310 .258
Runs 25 17
Hits 45 40
Dbls 7 6
Trpls 1 0
HRs 4 1
RBIs 23 14
Slg % .455 .316
BB 28 12
K 31 27
SB 2 5
ERA 2.85 4.70

During the three game series, Ryne Malone led the Seminoles with a .615 average, and led the team in triples (1), home runs (2), and RBIs (9). Josh Spivey hit his first career home run to go along with his .400 average for the weekend series. The Florida State pitching staff was phenomenal, combining for a 3.72 ERA and a .277 opponent batting average. Bryan Henry had another quality start, with seven innings pitched, only two runs given up (zero earned) and scattering five hits. Barret Browning came on strong in relief, throwing four strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings pitched. Tyler Chambliss took home a victory in 3 1/3 innings of relief, giving up zero runs and three hits while striking out four. Shane Robinson and Jack Rye each batted .667 when leading off an inning and the Seminole lineup combined to hit .343 for the series.

– Get the leadoff man on base. For the series, Florida State hit put the leadoff runner on 50% of the time  with Shane Robinson going 4×6 (.667).
– Score late in the game. After the fifth inning, the Seminoles outscored North Carolina 15-3, with seven runs coming in the sixth inning.
– Hit the ball well. Florida State had double digit hits in all three games of the series, which was right in the middle of a nine game streak in which Florida State had more than ten hits in a game.
– Keep their winning streaks alive. Last year, Florida State went into their series against the Tar Heels with a seven game winning streak, and swept the Tar Heels. This year, Florida State has a six game winning streak heading into their series against North Carolina.
– Win close games late. In 2005, Florida State had six walk-off wins, with half of those coming against North Carolina.

This year’s series is the first for the Seminoles in the month of April, which has been a good month for Florida State against North Carolina. In 12 games played during the month of April, the Seminoles have a .750 winning percentage (9-3) versus the Heels. The last time the two teams played in April was the 10th-12th in 1998, when Florida State took two of three in Chapel Hill.  In that three game series, Florida State set series records for most runs (20, April 11th, 1998) and biggest margin of victory (16, 20-4, April 11th, 1998).

Something must have been in the water at Dick Howser Stadium because Florida State was hitting the ball everywhere against the Tar Heels. As a team, Florida State had a .343 batting average, with six Seminoles hitting better than the team average. Ryne Malone, Shane Robinson, Nick Francis, Josh Spivey, Tony Thomas Jr. and Jack Rye all posted a .364 average or better for the three game series. The Seminoles also out homered the Tar Heels 4-1, with Malone, Spivey and Thomas Jr. all going yard. The four homerun blasts tied the season record for home runs in a series, as Florida State also hit four in three game series against Duke, Wake Forest and NC State. 

This year’s match-up between the Seminoles and Tar Heels doesn’t just mean something to the current fans, but to those of old as well. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the baseball rivalry between Florida State and North Carolina. The first game was played March 29, 1956 in Tallahassee, with FSU taking home the victory 3-2. Florida State would go on to win six of the first seven games against North Carolina, setting the tone for their 52-19 record against the Tar Heels. The two teams would play yearly from 1961-1967, with FSU taking 10 of 14 games.  The two teams played short series in 1970 and 1985 (FSU went 5-1 in the two series), before the yearly rivalry resumed when Florida State joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1992.

Since the turn of the century, Florida State is 7-3 (.700) against North Carolina when having 10 or more hits for the game. Currently, Florida State is on a five game double digit hit streak against the Tar Heels dating back to a 10-6 Seminole victory on March 27, 2004. Since that streak began, Florida State has taken 4 of 5 from the Tar Heels, and has scored at least six runs in each victory.       

There are some things in sports that just go beyond explanation and it is safe to say that Ryne Malone’s career versus North Carolina fits into that category. Malone is one of FSU’s best so for him to have good career numbers versus an opponent could be expected but what he has done versus North Carolina defies all rational thought. Last year in the regular season series versus the Tar Heels, Malone hit .615, slugged 1.308, drove in nine runs, scored six runs, hit a double and a triple on top of his two home runs. He reached base almost 69% of the time versus UNC and he did not strikeout once all weekend against the Carolina staff. Oh and don’t forget he hit a walk-off three-run home run with FSU trailing by two runs. He hit the game-winning homer with two outs in the inning when he was down to his last strike.

That was nothing new for Malone against North Carolina. In his first two seasons as a Seminole (eight games versus UNC) Malone has hit .545 and slugged 1.151 against the Heels. Five of his 19 career homers entering the 2006 season had come against UNC and he had 14 career RBIs, three doubles, a triple and 38 total bases against the guys in Carolina blue. That means in eight games versus UNC he hit five homers compared to 14 round trippers in his other 130 career games played. Amazing to think that in his first two seasons as a Seminole, Malone hit 26% of his homers versus UNC in what represented just 5% of his total games played. That isn’t the only stunning stat from Malone’s career versus Carolina. The Gainesville, FL native has more homers (5) than K’s (4) in his lifetime versus the Heels. He has recorded a hit in all eight games and has only failed to cross the plate once in two years. Malone has had an extra base hit in seven of the eight match-ups and more than one in three of the eight games. He is hitting .667 off UNC left-handers and .519 versus Heel righties. If you think it is dangerous to pitch to Malone in this series when the bases are empty (he is hitting .444 with nobody on) try facing him with men on board. With runners on base Malone has torched UNC pitching to the tune of .667 and with runners in scoring position his average is .625. He reaches base 75% of the time versus UNC when leading off an inning and is batting 1.000 with the bases loaded.

Malone was an equal opportunity hitter versus the UNC pitching staff last season. He went 3×3 versus Andrew Miller, 2×3 versus Daniel Bard and 2×6 versus Robert Woodard with a triple and two RBIs. He did pretty well versus the Tar Heel’s top reliever as well. The junior hit .667 with a homer against Jonathan Hovis.

3/26/04 * 3 2 3 2 0 0 1 1 0 0
3/27/04 * 5 2 3 5 0 1 1 0 0 0
3/28/04 * 5 2 2 2 1 0 0 1 0 0
5/29/04 * 5 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 2
5/13/05 * 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
5/14/05 * 5 3 4 3 1 0 1 0 0 0
5/15/05 * 4 2 2 2 0 0 2 1 0 1
5/25/05 * 3 1 1 0 1 0 0 3 1 0
TOTAL 8 33 13 18 14 3 1 5 6 1 4

Bryan Henry and Tyler Chambliss are making a name for themselves as one of the best 1-2 punches in the college game. The Seminole starters are a combined 14-0 with a 1.71 ERA. They have been involved in four shutouts and have 119 K’s compared to just 28 walks. When you compare the Seminoles top two starters to the ACC and the rest of the teams in the USA Today Top 25, a strong case can be made that Henry and Chambliss are having the best season of anyone from those teams. No tandem from any team in that poll has more wins, a better winning percentage, more K’s or been a part of more shutouts than the Seminole duo. Their combined ERA is third-best among that group and their K:BB ratio is tied for second best. No Top 25 squad in America has two starting pitchers in the top three for wins, ERA, strikeouts, K:BB ratio and shutouts or combined shutouts except for Florida State.

School Pitchers W-L ERA K K:BB SO/CBO
FSU Henry/Chambliss 14-0 1.71 119 4.3 4
UM Gutierrez/Miguelez 12-2 1.78 95 3.2 3
Clemson Cribb/Farris 10-0 1.96 64 4.3 1
Virginia Doolittle/Thompson 10-1 1.73 84 4.7 0
Miss St Johnson/Dunn 9-0 2.06 48 3.4 0
Rice Degerman/Savery 9-1 1.28 43 3.1 4
WSU Musgrave/Banwart 9-3 2.10 63 2.9 1
UNC Miller/Woodard 7-1 2.41 70 3.7 2
NEB Shirek/Chamberlain 4-1 1.28 43 3.1 1

32 TO 1
Bryan Henry is getting a little ridiculous as of late to say the least. The Seminole ace continues to prove that he is even better than he was last season when he was named All-ACC first team along side some of the best pitchers in America (Cesar Carillo of Miami, Joey Devine of NC State, Jeff Kamrath of Virginia and Robert Woodward of UNC). Every time Henry takes the mound he either out does himself or just continues to add to his legend. Last time he pitched he flirted with FSU’s first no hitter since 1998 as he did not allow a hit versus Duke until the leadoff batter in the ninth inning. The no-hit bid was impressive as were his 12 K’s and no walks. In Henry’s last four outings, all starts, he has struck out 32 batters and issued just one walk. That is an amazing number but it is just another example of why the junior is opening eyes as one of the top collegiate pitchers in America. Henry has struck out 60 batters this year and he has a walk to win ratio of 1-to-1 as he is 7-0 and issued just seven walks. If you take away Henry’s first outing of the year where he walked four batters and struck out two, he has fanned 58 and walked just four in his last seven starts. Henry is threatening the single season K:BB record as he is posting a ratio of almost 9:1 so far this season (the record is 6:1 and was set in 1969). For his career he has a K:BB ratio of 4.7:1 in 142 1/3 innings pitched. That is currently the fourth-best career K:BB ratio at FSU. His lifetime ERA is now 1.96, the third-best ever at FSU for a pitcher with 100-199 innings, and he has a career winning percentage of .842.

Henry started just one game in the first half of the 2005 season when he took the mound in the second game of a doubleheader versus Hawaii-Hilo. It wasn’t until stellar relief outings versus Jacksonville and Georgia Tech that the coaching staff decided to make the move from third baseman to fulltime starter. All he did was win his first two starts versus Miami and Florida within a span of five days. Since taking the mound versus Miami April 24, Henry has allowed more than two runs just three times in 17 starts and lost just one game (versus Florida in the Super Regionals). In those 17 starts, Henry has walked more batters than he K’ed just once and he has not walked a single batter six times and walked just one hitter on six other occasions. That means since the UM start he has issued one walk or less 12 times in 17 starts.

Bryan Henry’s career has been nothing short of amazing but what the junior has done in conference play is one of the most remarkable feats of his short but storied career. As a starter in conference games, Henry is 8-1 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 eight 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 eight conference games and he has 41 strikeouts compared to just nine walks.

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 North Carolina on 15-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 15-1 in his last 16 decisions.

The 2006 Seminoles are hitting homeruns at an alarming rate for opponents. The team will enter the series with UNC having hit 38 bombs in the first 28 for an average of 1.36 per game. Florida State has averaged 70 games per season over the last five years so at this rate the Seminoles could reach 95 HR, which would be the seventh-best single season total ever. The homeruns are coming in bunches for FSU as the Seminoles have 11 multi-HR games. The team has hit three or more homers in a game five times including one game with four homers (UNF) and another game with five (Brown). That matches the total number of games with three or more HR’s from all of 2005, which covered 73 games. Dennis Guinn is leading the way with his nine homers. The sophomore is just one HR shy of equaling the team leader from last year’s team. If you take away one seven game stretch, Guinn has not gone more than four games without hitting a homer. He has hit back-to-back homers on three occasions as well. One of the most remarkable aspects of Guinn’s nine homers is the fact that he has never homered twice in the same game meaning the first baseman has hit a round tripper in 32% of FSU’s games this season. With Jack Rye’s seven homers and six more from Ryne Malone, those three Seminoles are just are just five combined homeruns away from match this top three long ball hitters from last year’s squad.

Seminole freshman reliever Travis Burge had his best outing of the year versus UNF Tuesday night. The Port St. Joe, FL native pitched 3 2/3 and fanned five batters. Both were new career highs. Of the 15 batters he faced he fanned 1/3 of that group. It was the fourth straight appearance for Burge without allowing a run and in his 11 appearances this season he has only allowed an earned run to two opponents. With the stellar appearance versus UNF, Burge now leads all FSU relievers with a 2.25 ERA and 16 innings pitched.

The most common thing heard around the Seminole clubhouse after any game Luke Tucker closes is “I am sure glad we don’t have to face him” and for good reason. The new Seminole closer has been just phenomenal this season. He has five saves and a 2.70 ERA but those aren’t even his most impressive stats. Opponents are hitting just .109 versus Tucker this year and in his last four games he has recorded 10 of his 12 outs via K’s. He has recorded at least one K in 12 of his 14 appearances this year and multiple K’s eight times. A pretty amazing number considering he has never pitched for more than an inning. He has walked just one batter in his last seven games to go along with 13 strikeouts. One other nice stat for Tucker is FSU is 14-0 in games in which he appears. In ACC games Tucker has two saves and a 0.00 ERA.  He has allowed just one hit in four innings as conference teams are hitting an amazing .067 against the junior. He has fanned almost half (7) the ACC batters he has faced (15) and not a single ACC team has recorded a hit off him with runners on base.

Related Articles