May 10, 2006 - by

WEEKLY RELEASE: No. 12 FSU Baseball Heads To No. 7 Clemson

May 10, 2006


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FLORIDA STATE VS. CLEMSON – THE HISTORY
Florida State holds a 57-43-1 (.564) edge over the Clemson Tigers in the all-time series. The Seminoles are 31-10-1 at Dick Howser and 22-15 when playing at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Clemson is one of six ACC teams Florida State has won at least 30 home games against. The last time the two teams met was April 2-3, 2005, with Florida State taking two of three (3-1, 5-4, 3-7).  Florida State has won 15 of the last 18 games and has not lost a season series to the Tigers since May 6-8, 2000, when Clemson swept the Seminoles in South Carolina. Florida State’s longest winning streak is nine (April 2001 – May 2002), while Clemson took six straight from Florida State from March 1992 – May 1993. Since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, Florida State has lost five of seven season series in Clemson, which includes being swept by Clemson three times. More recently, however, FSU’s fortunes have reversed with the Seminoles taking the last two series in South Carolina (May 17-19, 2002, May 1-3, 2004), including a sweep of the Tigers in 2002.


THE ROTATION
Tyler Chambliss makes his second straight Friday night start after spending most of 2006 as the No. 2 starter. In his first ever Friday start Chambliss was saddled with a loss against Wake Forest last weekend. He pitched very well though going seven innings and allowing four runs of which only two were earned. He struck out nine batters and issued just two walks. The junior has been nasty in ACC play when it comes to strikeouts. In eight conference starts he has fanned 59 batters and issued just 24 walks. He has won 36% of FSU’s ACC games and is averaging 7 1/3 innings per start and nine strikeouts every nine innings. After striking out eight or more batters in each of his first three conference starts, Chambliss went four straight starts without striking out seven but that has changed recently. In his last two outings the Live Oak, FL native has struck out eight or more batters in each game. Although he is just 2-2 on the road in ACC games, Chambliss’ numbers are stellar. The junior has a 2.10 ERA in conference road games and opponents hit just .217 off of him. He has a K:BB ratio of almost 3:1 and left-handers are hitting just .180 against him. Both of Chambliss’ ACC road losses came in the state of North Carolina (WF and UNC). Overall, the curveball specialist enters this weekend second in the nation in wins and sporting a 2.01 ERA. He is on the verge of 100 K’s as he enters the weekend sitting at 93. Right-handers are hitting just .199 off the former closer this season and with runners on base he is limiting teams to an average of just .236. He has gone seven or more innings in seven of his last nine starts and is averaging over seven innings per start in that stretch.


Bryan Henry is coming off one of his most impressive starts of the season at Wake Forest in a 20-inning game eventually won by Florida State. The junior had his longest outing in more than a month as he went 7 2/3 and did not allow an earned run. Henry gave up just four hits and three unearned runs. Henry is now 9-2 and sporting a 1.88 ERA, the best in the ACC among starting pitchers. Statistically speaking, Henry has been FSU’s best pitcher on the road in ACC games this season. He is 2-1 with a stellar 1.30 ERA. In almost 28 innings of work in conference away games, Henry has allowed just four earned runs. Right-handers hit just .175 off of him and he is averaging almost seven innings per start. Henry’s control isn’t where it was at the start of the season but he is still extremely effective. In three of his last five starts he has not allowed an earned run and in four of those five starts he has allowed one earned run or less. Although he has not surpassed eight strikeouts in a game in more than a month, he is surrendering an average of less than four hits per start over that span, which is down over a hit per start from his first nine outings. Henry’s numbers overall in ACC play are higher than his season stats as his ERA is almost a run higher at 2.70 and his opponent batting average is slightly up at .222. There isn’t really one glaring area where Henry’s statistics are worse in ACC play but teams do slightly better against him in almost every category in conference action. Clemson was the first ACC team Henry ever started against. Last season the junior played the opening game of a doubleheader at third base. He took the hill in game two and gave up three runs in four innings of work. That was the shortest start of Henry’s career, which he tied this year with a four-inning start versus Georgia Tech.


Mark Sauls was scheduled to make his second start within five days versus Wake Forest after not starting a game all season before Jacksonville. The game was rained out and now instead of going on three days rest Sauls will have 10 days between starts. In his last start versus JU, his first starting assignment of the year, Sauls went five innings, allowed three hits and just one unearned run. Sauls threw just 65 pitches in picking up the win. Sauls pitched as many innings in that first start as he had in the entire season coming into that game. The right-hander is off to a good start to his 2006 campaign. Sauls’ 2.70 ERA is the fourth-best on the team and he has a K:BB ratio of 4.5:1. The senior has been very tough on left-handed hitters this year holding them to a .200 batting average but righties are hitting over .300. With just 10 innings of work under his belt, it is a little difficult to read too much into Sauls’ 2006 stats but last year he made 14 starts and 18 appearances. Half of his starts in 2005 came on the road and he posted a 3-1 record in those contests. While his ERA was 5.40 in those road starts, opponents hit just .253 against him. Sauls has only pitched three innings in ACC play this season and posted a 9.00 ERA. He has given up two doubles in those three innings and conference opponents hit .308 off of him. Despite starting over 40 games in his four-year career, the senior has only faced Clemson once and for just 1/3 of an inning. That game was played at Clemson in 2004 and was a forgettable outing for the right-hander. In just 1/3 of an inning Sauls allowed four hits, six runs of which only two were earned, he walked two Tiger batters, struck out one and gave up a double and a homerun.


LAST YEAR
The Clemson Tigers came down south to face off against FSU and after losing the first two games (3-1) the teams split a Sunday doubleheader (5-4 and 3-7).


Game one saw Florida State take the victory, and sweeten the christening of Mike Martin Field by the score of 3-1. Barrett Browning earned the victory pitching 7 2/3 innings, giving up only three hits and an unearned run, striking out eight and walking two. Shane Robinson extend his school-record hitting streak to 39 games. Florida State started off quickly scoring two runs in the second to take a 2-0 lead. Tony Thomas Jr. brought in Ryne Malone with a double and Bryan Henry used a single to bring in Thomas. In the third inning Thomas record his second RBI of the game as his fielder’s choice ground out brought in another run making it a 3-0 game. In the fifth inning, a sacrifice fly allowed Clemson to end the shutout attempt and bring the score to 3-1. Clemson would attempt a comeback in the eighth with a single and a hit batsman to run Browning from the game but Kevin Lynch came in and ended the inning with no runs. Tyler Chambliss came on to record his eighth save of the season in the ninth inning. Bryan Henry knocked in a run and went 2-for-4 while Thomas Jr. had two RBIs in the victory.


The second game was the first of a doubleheader for the two teams and FSU won in walk-off fashion as a safety squeeze sealed the 5-4 victory. The game also saw Shane Robinson’s hit streak extend to 40 games one away from the ACC record held by Clemson alum Rusty Adkins.  Each team scored in the first inning and Clemson used a sacrifice fly in the top of the third to take a 2-1 lead. Florida State responded with two runs in the bottom half to go back in front 3-2 thanks to a wild pitch and a sacrifice hit by Ryne. The bottom of the fourth saw FSU grab an insurance run, as their lead grew 4-2. Gibbs Chapman’s double brought home Robinson, who extended his hit streak for the fourth time in the fourth inning. Clemson cut the lead in half in the sixth but in the ninth Seminole closer Tyler Chambliss came on looking for his ninth save of the year. A leadoff single, followed by a sacrifice bunt, put the tying run on second and a two-out RBI single ended the save attempt. Bryan Henry started off the bottom of the ninth with a lead-off double. An intentional walk to Robinson brought up Chapman, who’s shot to center was lost in the sun.  Fortunately for Clemson, they were able to gun down Henry, who held up during the pop-up. Clemson took their time getting the ball back to the pitcher allowing Robinson to swipe third.  That set the stage for a squeeze by Aaron Cheesman who got the bunt down giving the Seminoles the 5-4 victory. For the game, Robinson led the Seminoles, going 2-for-3 with two runs. Reliever Matt DiBlasi threw 2 1/3 innings giving up no runs or hits, walking one and struck out four.


The series finale, and second game of the doubleheader, saw Clemson not only escape with a victory but also saw the end of Shane Robinson’s amazing 40 game hit streak. Bryan Henry, in his first ACC start, took the loss, going four innings and giving up three runs after starting the entire first game of the twin bill at third base. Henry got a rude welcome in his first ACC start as Clemson took the first pitch out of the park for an early 1-0 lead. Florida State tied it up in the bottom of the second as Ryne Jernigan brought home Ryne Malone from second. Clemson once again used a home run to take the lead, as they went yard against Henry in the fourth. In the fifth, Clemson looked to extend their lead as two back-to-back singles knocked Henry out and brought in Hunter Jones. A double play took out two base runners but allowed the runner from third to score and gave Clemson a 3-1 lead.  Clemson opened the game up and took a 7-1 lead in the sixth. The Seminoles would try to recover in the bottom half, using two runs to cut the lead to four however the Seminoles were unable to score again and Clemson escaped Dick Howser Stadium with only their third victory in the last eighteen games played against Florida State. Ryne Malone provided most of the offensive firepower for the Seminoles, going 3-for-4 with two runs. 


WHO TO WATCH FOR
Ryne Malone was 5-for-12 (.429) with two doubles, three runs and an RBI versus the Tigers last year. Tony Thomas Jr. led the team in RBIs (3) to go along a double and a run scored.  Barrett Browning went 7 2/3 innings giving up only three hits, one run (zero earned), walking two and striking out eight in earning a win over Clemson. Matt DiBlasi had three strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings and was one of seven pitchers along with Browning and Brian Chambers to have an ERA of 0.00. Tyler Chambliss took home a victory and a save in two appearances, giving up three hits, one run, and striking out three.


IF LAST YEAR WAS ANY INDICATION, LOOK FOR FLORIDA STATE TO:
Score Early: Florida State outscored Clemson 8-4 in the first four innings of play.


Shut down Clemson Late: The Seminole Pitching staff gave up only one run in innings seven though nine.


Advance the Runner: The Seminoles successfully advanced the runner 54% of the time. Ryne Malone led the Seminoles, going 4-for-5 in this situation. Jack Rye was right behind him as he advanced the runner successfully 75% of the time.


THAT’S A HECK OF A RUN
You really have to take your hat off to the Seminoles for their success versus Clemson as of late. Winning 15 of the last 18 games versus a team as good as the Tigers is pretty phenomenal. That streak dates back to 2001 and during that time Clemson has been to five NCAA Regionals, two Super Regionals and a College World Series. No team has a better active streak versus the Tigers than FSU and no team in the NCAA who has played more than 30 games versus Clemson has a higher winning percentage than Florida State. The only teams that are close to FSU’s success currently are Georgia Tech who has won 11 of the last 19 versus the Tigers, Florida who has gone 12-7 and Virginia who is 8-7.


PITCHER PERFECT
You have to take your hat off to the Seminole pitching staff for their performance last week. In three games (JU and two versus Wake Forest), FSU pitchers posted an ERA of 0.73 in 37 innings of work. They held the opposition to a .165 batting average and a .228 slugging percentage. In Saturday’s marathon 20-inning game, FSU pitchers did not allow an earned run all day and they shutdown the Demon Deacon offense holding WFU without a run for 17 straight innings. Wake and JU hit just .118 with runners on and just .103 with two outs versus the staff. Of the 11 pitchers FSU used last week, nine did not allow an earned run and only one walked more batters than he struck out. In those three games the FSU staff was so good the team’s entire ERA dropped almost ¼ of a run for the season.


NIP/TUCKER
Luke Tucker continues to shine in his role as closer for FSU in 2006. The NCBWA Stopper of the Year candidate has a team-best 1.52 ERA and team’s are hitting just .113 off of him. Tucker doesn’t have enough innings to qualify but his stats rank him with the best in the nation. His ERA is the third-best in the NCAA and his ERA and opponent batting average would both lead the ACC. Tucker has been dominant as of late. He will enter the Clemson series with a 17-inning scoreless streak and he has fanned two or more batters in 10 of his last 12 outings. As impressive as those numbers are, there is one stat that is even more amazing when it comes to the junior. In over 11 innings of work in conference games, Tucker has yet to allow a run. ACC teams hit just .103 against him and he has surrendered just four hits. He has a 3:1 K:BB ratio in ACC play and he is averaging almost 12 K’s per nine innings of work.


LOW SCORING AFFAIRS
Luckily for FSU this year their bats have been pretty good because the Seminoles have needed them. Florida State has yet to win a game this year when they have scored less than four runs. The Seminoles are 0-7 in games in which they have scored three runs or less. The magic number for Florida State when it comes to runs is four. When the Seminoles get that fourth run on the scoreboard their record improves to 37-5. Oddly enough FSU has not scored just one run in a game all year and has only been shutout once as well. Four is the magic number for opponents as well. When a team scores three runs or less versus FSU, the Seminoles are 23-0 but that number falls to 14-12 when an opponent scores four or more runs.


SIBLING-SIBLING RIVALRY
The DiBlasi family has a pretty storied history at the Florida State baseball program. Mike DiBlasi pitched at FSU from 1997-2000 appearing in 98 games in his career. Younger brother Matt DiBlasi is currently a reliever on the Seminole baseball team and he too has appeared in 98 games in his career. The brothers have combined to appear in 196 games for FSU but that isn’t a record. The Lynch’s, Matt and Kevin, hold the school record for pitching appearances by brothers. Kevin appeared in 136 games, the third-most in NCAA history, and Matt pitched in 79 giving them a total of 215. Matt DiBlasi will need to make 20 appearances to put the DiBlasi’s over the top, which will require at least a Super Regional run.


2 CLUTCH
If you want to know why Shane Robinson is a consensus first team All-American and National Player of the Year, Saturday versus Wake Forest was just another example. Although Robinson may have gone just 2-for-7 in the game, his impact was huge. Robinson tied the game for FSU in the seventh inning with a two-out RBI single and he scored the game-winning run after a single to open up the 20th. Robinson’s two hits Saturday resulted in the game-tying RBI and the game-winning run. It is nothing new for the Seminole lead-off hitter who is getting ready to leave his stamp all over the FSU record books. While he might be playing his last season in Garnet & Gold as a projected top draft pick, Robinson is creeping up the career record charts at Florida State. Obviously he is just five steals from taking over that career record but he is also on or nearing a bunch of top 10 lists. Robinson is just 10 runs, eight hits, two doubles and two triples away from moving into the top 10 in each of those categories. No player in the history of FSU baseball has ever been in the top 10 for hits, runs, doubles, triples, hit by pitch and stolen bases. But if Robinson is able to get eight more hits, score ten more runs, hit two more doubles and triples he will be the only Seminole ever to be in the top 10 of all of those categories.


SURPRISING FIRSTS
This has been a little bit of a strange season for the Seminoles. Before Saturday’s come-from-behind, 20-inning win over Wake Forest, the Seminoles had not won a game in its final at bat and had never gone into the seventh inning trailing and gone on to win the game. That is a pretty big change from 2005. Last season FSU won nine games in its final at bat and six in walk-off fashion. The Seminoles have yet to record their first walk off win of 2006. The Seminoles have won a bunch of games in blowout fashion this year but they are not doing nearly as good of a job in close games. Last year FSU was 19-6 (.760) in games decided by two runs or less this year that number is just 9-5 (.643).


TELEVISION NOTE


Due to the Miami Heat playoff game, Friday’s game will air live in North and Central Florida only on SUN Sports. It will replay statewide Monday at 11:30 a.m. The game will air live on Fox College Sports Atlantic.

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