January 29, 2007 - by
Weekly Release: No. 13 Florida State Opens 2007 Season Vs. No. 18 Tennessee

Jan. 29, 2007


  • Weekly Release in PDF Format

  • NOTING THE SEMINOLES



    • The Seminoles’ projected opening day line-up features just two field players in the same position that they opened up playing in 2006.

    • Florida State will chase its 29th consecutive NCAA Regional appearance this season.

    • Mike Martin is just 11 wins away from moving into fifth place for all-time career wins in NCAA Baseball history.

    • The Seminoles played in the program’s 28th consecutive NCAA Tournament last season.

    • FSU starts the season ranked 13th by Collegiate Baseball, 15th by the NCBWA and 18th by Baseball America.

    • Of the 35 players on Florida State‘s 2007 roster, 31 have two years experience or less as Seminoles.

    • The 2007 roster features just two players that were on the team when FSU last won an ACC Championship in 2004.

    • The only Seminole who has played in each of the last three seasons is relief pitcher Brian Chambers.

    • The last time FSU began a season with just one fourth-year senior on the roster was 2004.

    • Eight teams that played in the 2006 NCAA Baseball Tournament are on the Seminoles’ schedule in 2007.

    • Half of the 2006 College World Series field was made up of ACC teams and FSU will play weekend series with all four of those squads.

    • Players who accounted for 47 of FSU’s 69 homeruns in 2006 are back this year.

    • Six of Florida State‘s top seven hitters for average return this season.

    • Florida State has hit 55 or more homers for 12 straight seasons.

    • Tony Thomas, Jr. and Jack Rye are the only field players expected to open the season in the same positions they played in 2006.

    • For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the Seminoles fielded .964 or better.

    • The 2005 and 2006 squads rank as two of the top five best defensive teams in FSU history.

    • The Seminoles are projected to start just two field players with more than one year experience at his position with FSU.

    • Bryan Henry has a chance to become the first three-time All-ACC first team selection in school history.

    • The Seminoles lost pitchers that accounted for 23 of the team’s 44 wins in 2006.

    • Seven of Florida State‘s top nine pitchers as far as ERA are back in 2007.

     


    A QUICK LOOK AT THE TENNESSEE SERIES


    The Seminoles and Volunteers meet for the first time since 1998 when the teams opened their seasons at the ACC Baseball Blast in Orlando, FL. FSU, Tennessee, Ohio State and Notre Dame all participated in that tournament. This will be the first trip by the Vols to Tallahassee since March 23, 1974. That was Jack Stalling’s last season at the helm of the Seminole program. Tennessee has the overall lead in the series (4-3) and is on a three-game win streak. The last time a Seminole squad defeated the Volunteers was May 19, 1966. The two teams have never met more than twice in any season. This weekend’s three-game series will mark the most meetings between the schools in one season in program history. One of the highlights of this weekend’s opening series is the coaches. Tennessee Head Coach Rod Delmonico was an assistant coach for Mike Martin at Florida State from 1984-1989. The two remain close friends and Delmonico was in attendance at Martin’s induction to the ABCA Hall of Fame just a few weeks ago.


     


    THE ROTATION


    FRIDAY: Bryan Henry should open the season on the mound for Florida State for the second straight year Friday. The senior is the only back-to-back first team All-ACC pitcher in Florida State history. In 2006, Henry opened 13 series on the hill on Friday nights and posted a 9-2 record in regular season series openers. Henry has clearly been the ace of the FSU staff since moving from a starter at third base to the mound in the middle of the 2005 campaign. In his career, Henry is 13-2 in the regular season when he opens a series on the hill for the Seminoles. In 2006, the FSU ace was brilliant versus non-conference competition. Henry went 5-2 with a 2.26 ERA versus non-ACC teams. The Tallahassee hurler was even more impressive in the regular season versus FSU’s non-conference opponents. Henry was a perfect 5-0 with a 0.72 ERA in those games striking out 41 and issuing just eight walks. During the 2006 regular season non-conference opponents hit just .188 versus Henry in the regular season and he averaged almost 10 K’s per nine innings. Last season Henry was tied for the NCAA lead with four combined shutouts and 10 of his 18 starts were quality starts. This will be the sixth start of Henry’s career versus an SEC school with three of the previous five starts coming in postseason play. In 2005 he started versus Florida twice and Auburn once. In 2006 he started versus Auburn once again and then Georgia. In three of his five starts versus Southeastern Conference teams, Henry has gone at least seven innings but his results have been mixed. Probably the most memorable and most forgettable games of Henry’s stellar career have both come versus SEC teams and within one week of each other. In 2005, Henry pitched the only complete game of his career as he downed Auburn pitching all nine innings in the NCAA Tallahassee Regional. The performance helped propel FSU to a sweep of the regional and onto a Super Regional showdown with Florida in Gainesville. Henry opened that playoff series and lasted five innings and surrendered four homeruns. One of the keys for Henry is always control. In his Florida State career the senior has a K:BB ratio of better than 3:1 but versus SEC teams that ratio drops to 2:1. Overall, FSU is just 2-3 in games versus SEC clubs when Henry is the starter and 1-1 in those games during the regular season.


     


    SATURDAY: Michael Hyde is penciled in to make his 19th career start for FSU in game two of the Tennessee series. This will be the first time Hyde has started on opening weekend since he faced Charleston Southern in 2005, his first year as a Seminole. In that game Hyde pitched five innings and did not allow an earned run. The senior posted a 9-1 record in 2006 and he is 16-3 in his Seminole career. Hyde has just one loss in his last 31 appearances and 21 starts. Last season his only loss came versus an SEC team as he lasted just 1.1 innings in a start versus the Gators. Before that defeat, Hyde hadn’t lost since March 10, 2005 versus Hawaii. While the Tallahassee native has been dominant as far as results go, he has never made it through a season with an ERA below 4.30 and never posted a K:BB ratio of 2:1. Hyde has been at his best in his career versus non-conference opponents though. Last year he led the team with a 7-1 record versus non-ACC teams while posting an ERA over a run and a half lower than his season ERA. His 2.78 ERA versus non-conference competition was the same as All-American Tyler Chambliss’ ERA in those games. In non-conference action, opponents hit just .225 off of Hyde and he held right-handers to an incredible .183 batting average. Hyde’s last starts of 2006 were phenomenal as he continued to build his postseason legacy at FSU. The junior continued his postseason mastery in 2006 as he was brilliant versus JU in the opening game of the NCAA Athens Regional. The junior pitched five scoreless innings and limited the Dolphins to just two hits. He tied a season-high with five K’s and walked just one batter as he raised his scoreless inning streak to a career-high 12 1/3 innings. In four career starts in the postseason Hyde ran his record to 3-0 with a 0.70 ERA. He has 18 strikeouts and just six walks. He has pitched twice in the NCAA Tournament and twice in the ACC Tournament and FSU has won all four of those games.


     


    SUNDAY: TBA


     


    FAMILIAR ROLE


    In his first season as a Seminole, FSU closer Luke Tucker was dominant. Then a junior, Tucker went 2-1, recording nine saves and posting a 1.06 ERA in 27 appearances. With a few more innings pitched, Tucker would have led the NCAA in ERA. He was named to the NCBWA’s mid-season Stopper of the Year Award watch list while posting an opponent batting average of just .128. With more work Tucker would have officially had the lowest ERA and opponent batting average in the ACC. He was also seventh in the ACC in saves. At one point in 2006 Tucker went 18 innings without allowing a run. He pitched at least one inning in 12 straight outings at one point and averaged 1.5 K’s per inning of work or 13.5 per nine innings. The Niceville, FL product stepped in for 2005 All-ACC closer Tyler Chambliss, who moved into the starting rotation and became the first pitcher in the ACC to be named all-conference as a starter and a reliever. The transition worked so well for Chambliss, FSU tried to make the same move with Tucker for 2007. Tucker was penciled into the weekend rotation before returning to his closer role just over a week before the start of the season. Tucker may be back in his familiar closer role but all indications are that he will be more than a one-inning pitcher in 2007. Last season, Tucker’s first 18 appearances were all an inning or less. Yet seven of his last nine appearances were more than an inning. In fact Tucker pitched two-plus innings in four of his final six games including two outings where he went at least 3.1. Expect to see the pre-season All-American in games earlier this year.


     


    OPENING DAY


    FSU has lost the first game of the season only seven times in 59 years (51-7-1, .873) and only two of those losses have come in Tallahassee. In 1998 the Seminoles lost to Notre Dame at a neutral site marking the last time FSU lost its season opener. The last time FSU lost a season opener at home was 1981 versus Georgia Southern in a 3-2 loss.  The only other time FSU opened a season at home and lost came March 20, 1958 versus Auburn when the Tigers started FSU’s season by sweeping a doubleheader 4-3, 10-7. Overall in home-openers FSU is 54-4 (.931) with only one loss coming in the last 23 years. That was a 9-3 loss to Stanford to open the home schedule in 2002. Before that, the last time FSU lost the first home game of the year was the ’81 Georgia Southern loss. The other two home-opening losses came at the hands of Auburn in 1958 and 1969. Under Mike Martin FSU baseball is 24-3 on opening day.


     


    FIRST SERIES OF THE YEAR


    In 59 years of FSU baseball the Seminoles have only lost a season opening series on two occasions. The last time the Seminoles lost a season-opening series came in 1981 when Georgia Southern took two of three games from FSU. The only other time the Garnet & Gold lost a series to open the season came in 1958 when Auburn took both games of a two-game series. Overall, FSU is 48-2-9 in season opening series (the ties indicate a series split). In home-opening series, FSU has won 50 of 53 series. The only losses were to Auburn in ’58, Georgia Southern in ’81 and the last series loss came just three years ago when Stanford came to town and took two of three from FSU. 


     


    SEC YA LATER


    The Seminoles have a long history with the SEC. Considering the proximity of most of the league’s teams, that makes perfect sense but this is just the first time FSU has opened a season versus an SEC foe under Mike Martin. The Seminoles have played current members of the Southeastern Conference on opening day though. The last time it happened was in 1963. Overall, Florida State is 11-2 all-time in opening series against current SEC teams. The only time Florida State ever lost an opening series to an SEC team was in 1958 when Auburn came to Tallahassee and swept two games from the Seminoles. FSU has swept every other series. Five were two-game series and then there was a single opening day win over this weekend’s opponent. FSU opened the 1951 season with a 10-9 win over the Volunteers. The last games FSU played in 2006 were versus an SEC team in the NCAA Athens Regional versus Georgia. Mike Martin coached teams have fared very well versus the SEC, considered one of the top if not the top baseball conference in America. Martin has a 102-68 record versus SEC teams and is at .500 or above in his career versus six of the nine SEC teams he has faced. With a series win this weekend, he can move to .500 at least versus Tennessee leaving Arkansas and Georgia as the only teams from the SEC with winning records against a Martin-coached team.


     


    PICK UP WHERE THEY LEFT OFF


    There are a few returning Seminoles who probably dreaded the off-season more than others due to the way they finished up in 2006. Jack Rye ended last season in the midst of a 13-game hit streak. It is the longest streak of the junior right fielder’s career. Another player that was on fire at the end of 2006 was Travis Anderson. In the ACC and NCAA Tournament’s Anderson hit .433, slugged .833 and was on base 47% of the time as he was named to both the All-ACC Tournament Team and All-NCAA Athens Regional. He had 25 total bases in those nine games and hit three homeruns. The Bristol, FL native came into the ACC Tournament with 12 hits all season and then recorded nine in the ACC tournament playing in four of the five games. In 49 at bats he had scored seven runs. At the tournament alone he scored six. He had as many homers as he had all season and bested his season total for total bases (11) by six in just four games played. Another guy who can’t wait to get back on the diamond is senior hurler Michael Hyde. Hyde made two postseason starts and won both games without allowing a run. The Tallahassee native pitched 12 innings in the postseason and struck out nine batters. He will take the hill this weekend with a shutout streak of 12.1 innings in toe.


     


    ACC PRESEASON POLL


    Florida State was picked to finish second in the Atlantic Division behind 2006 College World Series team Clemson in the 2007 ACC Coaches Pre-Season Poll. FSU received one first place vote and had the fourth-most total votes from the conference coaches. While Clemson was the runaway winner for overall votes and as the predicted ACC Champion, Florida State, Miami and North Carolina were all bunched very close together for the 2-4 spots. The Tar Heels barely edged the Hurricanes as the predicted winner of the Coastal Division. Four schools received first place votes in the Coastal where three teams advanced to the 2006 CWS including UNC, which was the National Champion runner-up. The Seminoles were selected as a solid second place team in the Atlantic with 55 points trailing Clemson’s 71. NC State (48) was predicted to finish third followed by Wake Forest (40), Boston College (20) and Maryland (18).


     


    Atlantic Division


    School                           Points                     Record


    1. Clemson (11)………… 71………….. 53-16, 24-6 ACC


    2. Florida State (1)……. 55………… 44-21, 16-13 ACC


    3. NC State………………. 48………… 40-23, 16-13 ACC


    4. Wake Forest…………. 40………… 33-22, 16-13 ACC


    5. Boston College……… 20………. 28-25-1, 9-21 ACC


    6. Maryland……………… 18………….. 26-30, 8-22 ACC


     


    Coastal Division


    School                           Points                     Record


    1. North Carolina (4)…. 60………….. 54-15, 22-8 ACC


    2. Miami (2)……………… 58………… 42-24, 17-13 ACC


    3. Virginia (4)…………… 54………….. 47-15, 21-9 ACC


    4. Georgia Tech (2)……. 44………… 50-18, 19-11 ACC


    5. Virginia Tech………… 22………….. 20-33, 4-25 ACC


    6. Duke……………………. 14………….. 15-40, 6-24 ACC


     


    EARLY HONOREES


    The preseason honors have been rolling in for Florida State players, specifically two-time All-ACC first team selection Bryan Henry and bullpen ace Luke Tucker. Henry and Tucker were both named to the Roger Clemens Award watch list and NCBWA Preseason All-America list. The aces of FSU’s staff, Henry as a starter and Tucker out of the pen, were also pegged on the Rivals and SEBaseball preseason All-ACC teams. Dennis Guinn opens 2007 on the watch list for the Brooks Wallace Award.  The junior from Haines City, FL burst on to the college baseball scene in 2006 with a breakout season in his first campaign as a starter. Jack Rye joins Henry as the only Seminoles to be named a preseason All-ACC Team selection by both Rivals and SEBaseball. Tucker was named a second team All-ACC preseason selection by SEBaseball. Buster Posey was named first team preseason All-ACC by SEBaseball at catcher, a position he has never played at the collegiate level. SEBaseball also named UIC transfer Mark Hallberg as the second-best newcomer in the ACC this season.


     


    NCBWA Preseason All-Americans


    Luke Tucker     2nd Team


    Bryan Henry     3rd Team


     


    Brooks Wallace Award


    Dennis Guinn    Watch List


     


    Clemens Award


    Bryan Henry     Watch List


    Luke Tucker     Watch List


     


    Rivals.com Preseason All-ACC


    Jack Rye          OF


    Bryan Henry     SP


     


    SEBaseball.com Preseason All-ACC


    Jack Rye          1st Team


    Bryan Henry     1st Team


    Buster Posey    1st Team


    Dennis Guinn    2nd Team


    Luke Tucker     2nd Team


     


    TOP 10 IN THE LAST 10


    Florida State‘s position among the nation’s elite baseball programs is secure. The Seminole baseball program has the second-highest all-time winning percentage, is second in average wins per season, second in consecutive NCAA Regionals and has more wins than any school since 2000. Since 1990 FSU has more 50-win seasons than any school and more Top 10 finishes in the Collegiate Baseball poll. The Seminoles have been ranked by that organization for the past 312 polls. Since 1990 only two schools have been to more College World Series and only two have a higher winning percentage as well. FSU’s baseball history is glorious but that just doesn’t take into account the past 59 years. In the January 29th issue of Baseball America magazine, FSU was rated the seventh-best program in the nation over the past 10 years. The magazine compiled the top 64 teams since the NCAA moved to a 64 team postseason in 1996. The Seminoles finished ahead of all the original members of the ACC in the rankings and only two southern schools rated better according to the magazine’s formula.


     


    ACC’S BEST FACILITY


    Florida State players were not the only ones being honored this preseason. In SEBaseball’s 2007 ACC Preview, Dick Howser Stadium was named the best facility in the conference. The home of the Seminoles finished ahead of Georgia Tech and Virginia‘s facilities. The facility recently underwent a $12 million renovation and there have been new upgrades each year since the project was completed in 2004. Located on the campus of Florida State University, the stadium has provided over two million fans with the feeling of having “the best seat in the house” to watch the finest in college baseball action. Florida State‘s players and coaches enjoy the convenience and luxury of a clubhouse and locker room currently located behind the Seminole dugout. The Griffin Family Clubhouse was moved to the first base side for the 2004 season as the construction process was completed. The main locker room was described by former Seminole and 2004 World Series Champion Doug Mientkiewicz as being `better than 95% of the big league clubhouses’ he has seen. The locker room contains a personalized wooden locker for each player, a separate locker room for the Seminole coaches and trainers, and a video area where FSU players and coaches can watch film. The stadium also houses all of the baseball offices. The coaches’ offices look over the stadium behind home plate. There is also a weight room and training area adjacent to the clubhouse. Each of the areas were expanded and improved during the renovation process.


     


    ABCA HALL OF FAME


    Legendary Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin has been honored in almost every way imaginable in his 27-year career as the FSU baseball head coach. He is a 10-time conference coach of the year. He has led his FSU teams to 27 consecutive NCAA Regionals, coached in 12 College World Series and won 15 conference championships. Hundreds of his players have won all-conference and All-American honors and 13 have been first round draft picks. As proud as he is of all those accomplishments, his induction into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in January of 2007 may have topped them all. Martin was enshrined in the ABCA/Louisville Slugger Hall of Fame at the annual convention held this year in Orlando. The Seminole coach was one of nine men enshrined in the hall this year. Martin was joined by his family and friends at the induction ceremony.


     


    “It was a very humbling experience,” said Martin of his enshrinement. “I was overwhelmed with joy. I got a chance to see people I haven’t seen in a long time. It was very exciting. Rod Delmonico from Tennessee was there. I saw Duane Banks from Iowa who is a retired coach. It makes you reflect on so many things. This job has been an unbelievable blessing for me and my family. It has to do with the relationships I have accumulated over the years and it seems all are in the area of baseball.”


     


    HIGH EXPECTATIONS


    With the move of 2006 Freshman All-American Buster Posey from shortstop to catcher, there was a big void in the middle of the Seminole infield. Along came Mark Hallberg. The UIC transfer has opened a lot of eyes around Mike Martin Field but also in the national media as well. Baseball America rated Hallberg No. 15 on its list of America‘s top 25 transfers. Hallberg is rated the third-best player to transfer to an ACC school. Hallberg was the hardest player in America to strikeout last season as he fanned just six times in 217 at bats. In his career, Hallberg struck out just 17 times in 454 at bats. He was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2005 and chose to transfer to Florida State over LSU this past fall.


     


    PRESEASON POLLS


    After missing the 2007 Super Regionals for the first time since the format was instituted, the national pollsters have some doubts about this year’s Seminoles. FSU starts the season ranked 13th by Collegiate Baseball, 15th by the NCBWA and 18th by Baseball America. FSU was not ranked at all in the Rivals poll and the USA Today/ESPN Poll has not been released yet. Last season FSU began the year in the top 10 of three of the four major polls. Top 10 preseason rankings haven’t been a predictor of success for FSU though. Last season Florida State started at No. 8 or No. 9 in three polls and climbed to No. 1 in all three at one point. In the previous eight Collegiate Baseball preseason polls, FSU was in the top 10 six times. The two times FSU did not make it into the preseason top 10 the Seminoles played in NCAA Super Regionals (2004 and 2005).


     


    SUPER ON SUNDAY


    This Sunday will be the fifth time in Seminole baseball history that FSU has played a game on the same day as the Super Bowl. Florida State is 4-0 when sharing a game day with the NFL’s biggest game of the year. Last season FSU downed CSU 15-8 mere hours before the Steelers secured their fifth Super Bowl title. In 2005, FSU downed VMI 15-0 mere hours before the Patriots beat the Eagles 24-21. In 2000, FSU beat Western Kentucky 6-1 before players got to go home and watch the Rams squeeze out a 23-16 win over Tennessee. In 1999, FSU downed UNC-Ashville 11-3 preceding Denver‘s 34-19 win over Atlanta. Seminole games on Super Sunday are a good omen for the Indianapolis Colts as the AFC is 3-1 in Super Bowls played on the same day as an FSU baseball game. There is good news for fans of good Super Bowls as well. The average margin of victories in Super Bowls is almost 16 points but when Seminole baseball plays on the same day as the big game, that margin of victory drops to nine points per game.


     


     


     


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