May 16, 2005
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A QUICK LOOK AT THE JACKSONVILLE SERIES
This will be the fourth and final meeting of the season between the two teams and the first game to take place in the same stadium. The first three meetings took place in three different venues (Mike Martin Field, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville and Alexander Brest Field). The last meeting took place on the JU campus with FSU winning 11-4. It improved FSU to 3-0 on the season versus the Dolphins. That victory boosted the Seminoles’ current win streak to 12 straight and 32 of the last 33 against JU. FSU leads the all-time series 104-33 and is 69-9 in games played in Tallahassee. The Seminoles have recorded 13 shutouts in the series with nine of those coming at home.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE NC STATE SERIES
The Seminoles come into the series on a three game winning streak against NC State. The last time the two schools met was in the ACC tournament in 2004 where the Seminoles were victories 6-5. In the regular season FSU took the last two games of a three game series at home against NC State 7-6 and 10-3. The last time Florida State traveled to NC State they dropped two of three to the Wolfpack only winning the last game of the series 3-1. Florida State has the edge in the all-time series 39-16 and has a record of 10-6 when the games are played at NC State. The Seminoles have recorded four shutouts in the series but only one has come in North Carolina.
TUESDAY: Michael Hyde gets the call against Jacksonville Tuesday night. Despite the fact he is second on the team in innings pitched, the sophomore right-hander has yet to face JU in any of the three games this season. The Tallahassee native is 6-2 with a 4.68 ERA this season. His last start was also a mid-week outing as he pitched 5 2/3 versus Stetson. He allowed four runs in that game and did not get a decision. In Hyde’s first nine starts he went 6-2 with just one no decision. Since then he has not been the pitcher of record in his last five starts. Hyde got off to a fast start at the beginning of the year. He streaked out to a 4-1 start while posting an ERA 1.78 in the first six starts of his FSU career. Then came a 10-run outing versus Hawai’i where the Bows put up 10 hits and 10 earned runs on the right-hander. Since that outing Hyde’s number are the polar opposite of where he started the year. Excluding the 10-run game at UH, Hyde is 2-0 with a 5.75 ERA in his last nine appearances, which includes seven starts. Teams are hitting .305 against him in that stretch and he has allowed 11 extra base hits, the most on the team. All 23 runs he has allowed in those nine appearances have been earned. Since March 19, Hyde is allowing 41% of lead-off hitters to get on base and teams are batting .353 against him once runners get on base. He is allowing an average of two doubles per game and surrendering an average of nearly one homer a game as well. Hyde has proven he can go deep into games though. With just one exception, the sophomore has pitched at least five innings in every start this season.
THURSDAY: Bryan Henry has solidified the FSU weekend rotation since making his first Friday night start against Virginia. Since that outing April 29, FSU has gone 11-1 and moved into third place in the ACC. Henry has not only taken Tallahassee by storm but he is now the No.1 pitcher in the ACC for ERA, ERA in conference games and opponent batting average in ACC play. Henry’s 1.44 ERA is almost a half a run better than Miami‘s Cesar Carillo who is in second for ERA and more than a half a run better than Carillo’s ERA in conference games alone. He is the only pitcher in the ACC holding conference opponents to a batting average below .200. Henry’s ERA is the sixth-best in the nation now and it has been almost a month since he has allowed more than one earned run in a game. The key to Henry’s success all season has been control. In 62 1/3 innings of work, Henry has issued just 11 walks and he has only walked five batters in ACC play this year. His K:BB ratio is 3.5:1 but in conference games it jumps to 6:1. Another reason for Henry’s success is the way he gets his outs. Henry is the only pitcher on the Florida State staff that records more fly ball outs than ground ball outs. He averages well over 12 fly ball outs per game and just over seven outs per game via ground balls. When you get that many fly ball outs the chance of your defense making errors drops dramatically. The sophomore is also proving himself to be money in pressure situations. Opponents hit just .184 against him with runners on base and only .200 with two outs in an inning.
FRIDAY: Mark Sauls will make his fourth ACC series start in the last five weeks on Saturday. He pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up five runs his last time out versus the Heels. Sauls opened 2005 as FSU’s Friday night starter. A bout with tendonitis shelved him for over a month and he is now pitching as well as he has all year. Sauls has yet to lose a game he has started this season. He is 6-1 with a 3.23 ERA but in his 10 starts the junior is 6-0 with a 2.86 ERA. As a starter, teams hit just .218 off him and in 50 1/3 innings he has allowed just six extra base hits. In fact, Sauls has allowed just seven extra base hits all season meaning just one of every seven hits he allows go for more than one base, which is the best ratio among FSU’s starters. In his 14 appearances in 2005, Sauls has allowed either one or no earned runs nine times. There have been only three occasions where Sauls has surrendered more than three earned runs and those were all four run outings. Two of those three appearances accounted for just 2/3 of an inning combined, which means Sauls has allowed eight of his 20 earned runs in just two outings that covered 2/3 of an inning. Without those two hiccups, Sauls’ ERA drops from 3.23 to 1.96 as he has allowed only 12 earned runs in his other 55 innings of work. Unlike Henry, Sauls’ weakness has been control. He is the only FSU pitcher to have more walks than strikeouts this season (26:24). His control has improved somewhat in his last five starts as he has issued 10 walks and struck out 11 batters.
SATURDAY: Hunter Jones makes his second straight start in the weekend rotation versus an ACC opponent. He is coming off a three-inning, five run outing in the series finale against North Carolina. It was just the second time in his last six starts that Jones did not pitch at least five innings. In his last four starts, Jones is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA. He has given up 22 hits in just over 16 innings of work and teams have hit .319 against him in those games. The last three times Jones has pitched the Seminoles have gone on to win the game though (Maryland, Stetson and North Carolina). Jones has a strikeout to walk ratio of almost 3:1 this season but opponents are hitting .306 against the left-hander. He is the only FSU starter who has an opponent batting average above .280. Jones has really struggled with runners on base as opponents are hitting .309 but even more concerning for the FSU coaches is the fact that almost 40% of leadoff hitters are getting on base against Jones this season. He also leads all starters in hits allowed per game with 11.
SERIES STARS JU
Florida State has won all three games played against Jacksonville in 2005. FSU has out scored JU 31 to 8 in the three games this season. The Seminoles are out hitting the Dolphins by just 27 points (.304 to .277) but Florida State‘s power numbers tower over Jacksonville‘s as FSU is slugging 242 points higher then JU (.559 to .307). Florida State is also reaching base at a much higher rate then Jacksonville as their on base percentage is 133 points higher (.451 to .318).
Tony Thomas Jr. has owned Jacksonville pitching as he is hitting .833 (5×6) and slugging an astonishing 1.833. Thomas’s slugging percentage is so high because two of his five hits have been home runs. As if those numbers are not high enough his on base percentage is .917 thanks to the five walks and one hit by pitch. Thomas’s ten runs scored in the series are double the next closest Seminole and just to add to his numbers Thomas has four RBIs as well. Thomas can also get the job done with his glove as he has registered seven assists, seven putouts and zero errors for a perfect 1.000 field percentage.
Besides Thomas several other players have been getting the job done for the Seminoles. Ryne Malone is hitting .385 (5×13) with a 1.000 slugging percentage. Malone leads the team in extra base hits against JU as he has totaled five (three doubles, a triple and a home run). The sophomore’s seven RBIs also leads the team and he is just one of two Seminoles to steal a base. Malone and Shane Robinson have scored five runs each which are tied for second most on the team behind Thomas. Robinson has had a solid offensive series as he is hitting .385 (5×13) with a .615 slugging percentage. Robinson’s three doubles are tied with Malone for the most on the team.
Aaron Cheesman is another Seminole who has had a big series against Jacksonville. Cheesman is hitting .375 (3×8) and his .645 on base percentage is the second highest on the team. Cheesman has totaled five walks and one hit by pitch. Daniel Wardell is hitting .375 (3×8) and is slugging .875 in the series thanks to two of his three hits going for extra bases (a double and a home run).
The Seminole pitching staff out dueled Jacksonville as FSU has posted a 2.33 ERA to JU’s 10.38 ERA. Hunter Jones, Mark Sauls and Ryan Strauss each have started in a game this season for Florida State versus JU. Jones and Sauls each picked up win for their efforts and Bryan Henry picked up the Seminoles other win as he pitched five innings of relief work.
The Seminoles bullpen combination of Tyler Chambliss, Kevin Lynch and Matt DiBlasi completely shut down the Jacksonville offense as they combined to throw six scoreless innings with a 0.00 ERA and allowed just a .150 batting average.
LAST YEAR’S NC STATE SERIES
In 2004 current Florida State batters hit a combined .250 over the course of the four games played against NC State. They also posted a .389 slugging percentage and a .325 on base percentage.
Shane Robinson, Aaron Cheesman and Ryne Malone were the only current Seminoles to start and play in all four games against NC State in 2004. Robinson registered a .400 batting average (6×15) and his six hits led the team. Of Robinson’s six hits he only stopped at first base twice as he recorded a team leading four extra base hits for a combined 12 total bases (two doubles and two triples). Robinson’s 12 total bases led the entire team and helped him to post a .800 slugging percentage. His three RBIs where the most by any Seminole in the team’s 2005 line-up and his three runs scored were tied for the second most by any recent Seminole.
Cheesman was second only to Robinson with a .357 batting average (5×14) but led all current Seminoles with a .471 on base percentage thanks to two walks and a hit by pitch. Cheesman also equaled Robinson’s doubles total as he recorded two helping him to total seven bases over the series, which were second most by anyone currently on the team. Cheesman also slugged .500 versus the Pack. Cheesman matched Robinson once again as his three runs were the tied for the second most.
Despite only hitting .143 (2×14) in the series versus NC State in 2004, Ryne Malone came through in the clutch for the Seminoles as he hit .500 (2×4) with runners in scoring position. He proved to be a valuable asset on the base paths as he was the only Seminole currently on the roster to swipe a base against NC State in 2004 as he was a perfect one for one in stolen base attempts. Malone also led the entire team in 2004 with four runs scored.
Gibbs Chapman only played and started in one game for the Seminoles against NC State but he made an impact when he had the chance. Chapman hit .500 (2×4) and posted a 1.000 slugging percentage thanks to one of his two hits going for a triple. Chapman also scored a run and knocked in one RBI in the series.
In 2004 the current Florida State pitching staff combined for a 3.48 ERA versus the Pack. Mark Sauls and Hunter Jones were the only two current Seminoles to start a game and both will start this weekend as well. Sauls earned a win after pitching seven strong innings and only allowing three runs, all earned, on ten hits. Sauls also walked two and struck out seven. Jones received a no decision after pitching 3 1/3 innings and allowing two runs, both earned, on four hits and three walks while striking out three.
The four members of the current Florida State bullpen combined to pitch 10 1/3 innings and post a 2.67 ERA in 2004 against NC State. Kevin Lynch threw a combined 4 2/3 scoreless innings over two appearances and allowed six hits while striking out six. Tyler Chambliss picked up two wins in his two relief appearances as he combined to throw 3 1/3 scoreless innings as he only allowed one hit and one walk while striking out five.
There have been a lot of things said and written about the 2005 Seminole baseball team. They are over rated. They are under rated. They are too young. The comments go on and on but 60 games into the season, there are a few undeniable facts about this group. First, entering this week’s games no team in America has won more games this season than FSU. Yes FSU benefited from playing extra games in Hawai’i but bottom line is the 2005 team has already surpassed the win total the 2004 squad posted all of last season. Second, FSU is currently on the second-longest win streak in America and their 13 game win streak earlier in the year is the fifth longest in collegiate baseball this season. This team has found ways to get the job done and the proof of that is the 2005 team’s average margin of victory is 2.7 runs per game. Not a big number but one that illustrates how tough this team is in close games. Third, FSU’s winning percentage (.7627) is the ninth-best in the nation and better than anybody’s in the ACC. Fourth, FSU has had success against some of the best teams on their schedule. In the latest pseudo RPIs, Florida State is 21-10 versus teams in the top 100 of the RPI, which is a .677 winning percentage and FSU is 10-9 against teams in the RPI top 20 coming into the week. They have two wins over the No. 17 team (Auburn), two wins over the No. 11 team (Florida), two wins over the No. 16 team (Clemson), a win over the No. 2 team (Miami) and a sweep of the No. 8 team (North Carolina). Coming into the week, FSU has series wins over four teams ranked in the top 16 of Boyd’s World’s RPI and two of the team’s series losses came to schools ranked in the top five (Miami and Georgia Tech).
HITTING THEIR STRIDE
The Seminoles are currently in the midst of their second double digit win streak of the season. This is just the third time in the last 15 years that FSU has put together two or more double digit win streaks in the same season. The last team to do it was the 2002 squad who won 10 and then 25 in a row. In 1999, FSU put together three such streaks (11, 21 and 10). Before then you have to go all the way back to 1990 to find the next Seminole squad that accomplished a similar feat. One of the main reasons has been the way the team’s bats have come alive as of late. Florida State has recorded double digit hits in seven straight games for the first time this season. During the 10 game win streak the Seminoles are hitting .341 and slugging .525. FSU has 34 extra base hits over this streak and 12 have been home runs. The Seminoles haver averaged over 11 hits a game during this run. FSU’s pitching staff has done well posting a 3.03 ERA but the offense has battered opposing pitchers to the tune of a 7.21 ERA. During these 10 games the Seminoles have 71 RBIs compared to just 31 for their opponents and they have hit twice as many homers (12 to 6). One of the biggest discrepancies comes in the area of sacrifices where FSU has recorded 20 compared to just four for their opponents. When you break down the season into 10 game segments, there are a lot of reasons to feel optimistic about the way FSU is playing baseball right now. Just take a look.
GMS AVG R H 2B 3B HR SLG BB SO OB SB W-L
1-10 .308 78 103 27 0 5 .434 59 63 .421 22 9-1
11-20 .319 75 105 30 5 4 .477 57 56 .418 27 10-0
21-30 .298 69 99 19 3 4 .410 53 77 .405 17 7-3
31-40 .295 63 103 22 1 9 .441 51 56 .396 11 6-4
41-50 .234 59 78 17 3 10 .393 51 97 .357 3 4-6
51-60 .341 74 115 18 4 12 .525 53 61 .436 21 10-0
As if seven straight games with double digit hits weren’t enough proof, there is another stat that back up how well FSU is hitting the ball right now. How about the fact that five Seminoles will carry hit streaks of seven or more games into Tuesday’s JU series finale? Three of those hit streaks are nine games or more. The two quietest streaks are by the two guys almost as far apart chronologically as any two players on the team. Freshman Jack Rye and fifth-year senior Aaron Cheesman currently have double-digit hit streaks. Rye is at 12 and Cheesman at 10. Four of these five hit streaks are season-longs. Both Rye and Cheesman are in the midst of their best streaks of the year along with Gibbs Chapman (9) and Tony Thomas, Jr. (7). Four players have had double digit hit streaks in 2005 and two of those four streaks are currently ongoing.
THIS IS WHERE IT ALL STARTED
While the game may not have been played at Mike Martin Field, astute followers of Seminole baseball will remember the last game against JU as the day the Bryan Henry legacy began. With FSU falling behind 3-0, the Seminoles came back in the top of the third to take a 4-3 lead. Henry then came in and pitched five innings while allowing just one run on three hits. He picked up the win and that started his ascent to Friday night starter, ACC ERA leader and a spot in the top six in the NCAA in ERA as well. The move has paid off in a few different ways. First and most obviously, is the way it has solidified the pitching staff. Since that night versus JU, Henry is 6-0 with a 0.99 ERA in seven appearances and five starts. Teams have hit .182 against him and he has struck out 28 batters while issuing just eight walks. He has almost twice as many innings pitched as anyone else on the staff and twice as many victories as all the pitchers who have started a game in that stretch combined. What that move also did was allow the FSU coaches to get Danny Wardell’s bat into the line-up at first as Ryne Malone moved to third to cover Henry’s move into the rotation. Since that night in Jacksonville, Wardell has started 19 games at first base and is fourth on the team in batting average, third in doubles, first in home runs, third in RBIs and fourth in slugging. In that same stretch Malone, who was hot before then any way, has been able to stay in the line-up where he has continued to be on fire at the plate. He is hitting .342 and slugging .620. He has seven doubles, three triples and three homers. His 30 RBIs lead the team as do his 49 total bases.
IT STARTED VERSUS JU
PLAYER AVG R H 2B 3B HR SLG BB SO OB
Ryne Malone .342 23 27 7 3 3 .620 17 20 .475
Danny Wardell .292 11 21 4 0 5 .556 9 16 .365
PLAYER ERA W-L GS IP H R ER BB SO AVG
Bryan Henry 0.99 6-0 5 45.1 29 8 5 8 28 .182
Bryan Henry had another fantastic outing this week as he out dueled North Carolina ace Andrew Miller. He became the first FSU pitcher to win five straight games this season improving his record to 7-2 and setting the stage for FSU’s sweep of North Carolina. Henry went seven innings and allowed five hits. Of the 10 times a Seminole starting pitcher has gone seven or more innings this season, five times it has been Henry on the mound. Henry not only picked up his seventh win but he dropped his ERA to 1.44, which is the best in the ACC. The sophomore held the Heels to a batting average of just .185, which was 119 points lower than their season average coming into the game. He now has six quality starts in seven games started, which means almost 86% of the time he starts you can bank on an outing of at least six innings with three or fewer runs allowed. He has allowed an amazing three earned runs in his last four starts (30 innings of work).
GOING TO CAROLINA
If Florida State meets up with North Carolina in Jacksonville at the ACC Tournament you can bet the UNC coaches are going to rethink the way they deal with reigning ACC Player of the Week Ryne Malone. The sophomore absolutely tore up Tar Heel pitching this past weekend. Versus the Heels, Malone hit .615, slugged 1.308, drove in nine runs, scored six runs and 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. It was nothing new for Malone against North Carolina. In his two seasons as a Seminole (seven games versus UNC) Malone is hitting .571 and slugging 1.285 against the Heels. Five of his 18 career homers have come against UNC and he has 11 career RBIs, three doubles, a triple and 36 total bases against the guys in Carolina blue.
TURNING IT AROUND
After dropping six straight ACC games earlier this season, the Seminoles were sitting at 9-8 in a conference they had dominated since 1992. The Seminoles lead the conference in tournament titles and regular season titles since joining the league in 1992 but after dropping the second game of the Miami series FSU was in fifth place and closer to seventh than they were third. Since hitting the 9-8 mark, FSU has gone 9-1 in its last 10 ACC games to jump up to third in the standings. FSU has hit .309 in this stretch and slugged .483. They have outscored their opponents 71-30 and hold an edge of more than 2.5:1 in RBIs with 68 compared to 27. The pitching staff has been a big reason for the success as well. They have held the opposition to a .221 batting average and posted a staff ERA of 2.54. The Seminoles are 5-1 at home during that stretch but even more impressively they are 4-0 on the road where they will finish conference play. While three of those four games came against Maryland (the other was the series finale versus Miami), FSU’s numbers while running off four straight ACC road wins are eye-popping. Florida State has out hit its opponents .336 to .165 and out scored those teams 32-6. Even more impressive is what the Seminole pitching staff has done. FSU pitchers have combined for a 1.25 ERA and limited opponents to a .165 batting average giving up only five earned runs in 36 innings.
WE KEEP TELLING YOU
People who watch the Seminoles with regularity keep telling anyone who will listen about how good the bullpen has been this year. The point was never as clearly illustrated as Sunday when they allowed FSU to comeback from a 6-2 deficit to down the Tar Heels and complete a sweep. The Seminole pen pitched eight innings, allowed one run, struck out eight batters and issued just two walks. New reliever Barret Browning had another strong outing out of the pen as he went 3 2/3 and held the Heels scoreless and Tyler Chambliss equaled a season high with 3 1/3 innings of work as he picked up the win. The win was the 21st for a Seminole reliever this year giving the pen 46% of the team’s 46 wins. Add to that 17 saves and that is 38 games a Seminole reliever has won or saved and the bullpen has had a hand in 83% of the Seminoles wins in 2005.