Feb. 27, 2006
THE FLORIDA SERIES
Florida State took two of the three regular season meetings between the teams last season before dropping both games at the 2005 NCAA Gainesville Super Regional. After Florida came to Tallahassee and won the first meeting, FSU took the next two with the final game of the set being played in Gainesville. After regular season play, the teams meet again in the NCAA Super Regional where the Seminoles suffered two losses in two games against the Gators. The rivalry couldn’t be more even lately with an even record in the last 16 games (8-8) but UF is 6-3 in the last nine games between the schools. The Gators lead the all-time series in Gainesville 49-41. Florida had won three in a row at McKethan Stadium before FSU took the May 3 meeting 7-2 then once again regained control of their home field with a two game sweep over Florida State. UF has a slight edge in the last 13 games played on the UF campus (7-6). The Seminoles have recorded 14 shutouts in the series to Florida’s six. The series dates back to 1956 and the two teams have played at least once every year since. Overall, Florida State leads the series between the two rivals 110-89-1.
TUESDAY: Tyler Chambliss easily had his most impressive outing as a starter in his career in his last start versus UNC Asheville. The junior was on fire versus Asheville going six innings and allowing just one hit. He did not give up a run and struck out a career-high eight batters and issued just one walk. Chambliss threw 85 pitches and faced only two batters over the minimum holding Asheville to a .056 batting average. Chambliss’ move from the pen has been nothing short of a complete success so far. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA. All three of his outings in 2006 have been quality starts and he now joins Bryan Henry as the only two Seminoles to post three consecutive quality starts in the last two years. He has allowed just two earned runs in 18 innings and fanned 17 while giving up six walks. In three outings opponents are hitting .159 off Chambliss and he has allowed just one extra base hit (a double) this season. Righties and lefties are each hitting below .175 against him. Opponents have an average of .200 or below versus Chambliss’ with runners on base, with bases empty and with two outs in an inning. Chambliss has only had one start on the road so far in 2006 and that came at Auburn. Although he picked up the win, it was his shakiest outing of the year as he gave up his only two earned runs in that game and the Tigers recorded more than twice as many hits versus Chambliss as he has allowed in his other two starts combined. If there was one area last year he would like to improve on, it would be his performance on the road. At an opponent’s stadium Chambliss was just 1-3 with four saves and a 4.24 ERA in 13 appearances. He gave up 11 runs in 17 innings of work but only eight of those were earned. Chambliss’ stats weren’t bad on the road as he struck out 27 and issued 13 walks but where he got hurt was with two outs in an inning. Teams batted .308 against the rightie with two away in a frame. Another area he will work to improve upon is putting the leadoff runner on base. Last season he did that almost 47% of the time away from home. That is an area in which opponents are still having success against the junior. Almost 32% of batters are getting on base to lead-off an inning against Chambliss but when you are holding opponents to 5-for-20 with runners on base it isn’t a huge concern. It is easy to see why the coaching staff decided to give Chambliss the first bite at the apple versus Florida. The junior did not surrender a run to the Gators in three appearances and six innings of work last year. He allowed just five hits in his three outings and picked up two saves. Chambliss issued only one walk versus UF while racking up six K’s.
HE GOT IT!
Mike Martin can cross another milestone off his to do list with this weekend’s sweep of Minnesota. With Saturday’s 12-4 win, Martin became only the eighth coach in NCAA history to reach the 1,400 win-plateau and only the sixth active coach to do so. Of the eight coaches with 1,400 wins Martin has the fifth-best winning percentage and the second-highest winning percentage among active Division I coaches. Of the top 10 coaches across all divisions for wins, only four coaches have a winning percentage above .700 and Mike Martin is among that group. Gene Stephenson of Wichita State is the only active coach who has 1,400 wins and a higher winning percentage than Martin. Overall, Martin ranks third in the DI 1,400 win club behind Stephenson and former Texas coaching legend Cliff Gustafson for winning percentage.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Four of FSU’s top five hitters from last year’s series with the Gators are gone. Only three returning players even hit above .200 in the five-game set so offensive production will be a concern. Shane Robinson is the only returning Seminole to hit better than .290 versus the Gators in 2005. The centerfielder torched UF pitching to the tune of a .389 average while posting a .500 on base percentage. No Florida pitcher was able to strike Robinson out in 23 plate appearances last season as he drew four walks and recorded a sacrifice. The Gators did do a good job of limiting the damage caused by Robinson considering he reached base to leadoff an inning five times in 10 tries. He swiped just two bases and scored five runs in the five games. On top of that, he had just one extra base hit and only one RBI. Jack Rye and Ryne Malone were the only other Seminoles with an average above .200 that are back this season. Rye posted a .286 average and half of his four hits went for extra bases. The only problem was nobody was on base ahead of him as he knocked in just one RBI. Rye had a great series though drawing three walks and not striking out once. On the other hand, Ryne Malone struggled versus his hometown team as far as K’s and walks are concerned. The third baseman struck out seven times and did not draw a walk in any of the five meetings. Despite the high number of strikeouts, Malone still hit .273 and no returning Seminole recorded more RBIs versus the Gators last year than Malone’s three. The Gainesville native was excellent with runners in scoring position (.400) and with runners on base (.364). Tony Thomas, Jr. was productive in the series with Florida as he was the only Seminole to record a triple and a homer versus the Gators in 2005. The second baseman may have only hit .200 but he scored a team-leading five runs and had eight total bases. He will need to do better in pressure situations though as he went 0-for-8 with runners on base.
As far as pitching goes, on a whole, the Seminole relievers fared better than the starters did in 2005. Coming out of the pen, Tyler Chambliss, Brian Chambers and Barret Browning all had a 0.00 ERA, Chambliss (Tuesday’s starter) and Browning are now in the FSU rotation so Chambers is one of just two relievers available Tuesday with experience versus UF. The right-hander threw two innings versus UF last year and gave up just one hit and did not issue a walk. Chambers also struck out two batters and the Gators hit just .143 off of him. Browning, who pitched Sunday versus Minnesota, is unlikely to see any action versus UF Tuesday despite a strong appearance in relief versus UF last year. Matt DiBlasi is the only other reliever with experience against the Gators that should be available in the pen Tuesday. The senior pitched in four of the five games versus UF compiling 7 2/3 innings of work. DiBlasi struck out eight batters and walked only one but he allowed four earned runs in his four outings. Those numbers are somewhat misleading though as three of those earned runs all came in one game in the Super Regional. In DiBlasi’s other three outings he allowed just one run total.
WATCH OUT FOR…
All of the Gators top five hitters from last year’s series with the Seminoles are back in 2006 and none had more success than Tallahassee native Gavin Dickey. The outfielder led the Gators in average (.474), hits (9), RBIs (6) and on base percentage (.524). He wasn’t the only returner FSU pitching needs to be concerned with tough. Brandon McArthur had a huge series versus the Seminoles last year. The sophomore hit .350 but led the team with a .650 slugging percentage as he hit for the cycle in the series. The Seminoles did do a great job against Florida’s leading hitter going into last weekend. Brian Leclerc hit just .238 in this series last year with five K’s and just one walk. As many returners as UF has that were successful offensively, the Gators lost most of the guys who had the most success on the hill versus FSU. The only returning Gator hurler that had enormous success last season against FSU was Steven Porter. The junior was perfect in 1 1/3 of work not allowing a single base runner in any of his three appearances.
EXCEPTION TO THE RULE
With all the incredible numbers Shane Robinson has posted over the last few years, sometimes it’s the rare off day that proves how amazing Robinson is compared to all the other numbers he has posted. For example, coming into Sunday’s series finale with Minnesota, Robinson was hitless in the series. It marked just the second time in 97 games dating back to 2004 that Robinson had been held without a hit in consecutive games. An amazing stat but even more amazing was the fact Minnesota was attempting to become the first team ever to hold Robinson hitless in a three-game series in the junior’s career, which they were unable to do as he went 2-for-4 Sunday. The only time Robinson has been held without a hit in more than two consecutive games came in his freshman season. In the middle of March 2004, Michigan State, Jacksonville and Maryland held the All-American without a hit in four straight games. In the last 139 games since then, Robinson has never been held hitless in even three straight games. In his career, Robinson has played 152 games and he has only gone consecutive games without a hit eight times, and six of those times came his freshman season. The longest “slump” of Robinson’s career was that four game stretch just 20 games into his collegiate career where he went 0-for-15. His freshman year Robinson had three streaks where he went hitless in 10 or more at bats but since then he has never gone more than nine straight at bats without a hit.
THAT HAPPENED ONCE…JUST ONCE
Ryne Malone came into the 2006 season on a 16-game hit streak and the junior ran that number to 19 before a 0-for-2 day on the road at Auburn. That was the only time Malone has been held without a hit this season. The Gainesville native has hit safely in 10 of 11 games so far and reached base in all 11. Malone has now reached base in 34 straight games dating back to May 1, 2005 versus Virginia. Malone’s progression every year he has been in this program is evidenced in his stats but 2006 has a chance to be a special season for the third baseman judging by his start to the season. Malone is off to his best start ever through 40 at bats. He is hitting .375, slugging .625 and his 13 RBIs are tied for the team lead. He is tied for first on the squad with four doubles and 13 total bases. Through his first 40 at bats, Malone has raised his average 50 points from his first 40 at bats of 2005, which was 50 points higher than his first 40 at bats as a freshman. He has also raised his slugging percentage almost 100 points from one season to the next through 40 AB’s. Malone has more hits, more home runs, more RBIs, a higher slugging percentage and more total bases in 2006 than through his first 40 at bats as a freshman or sophomore.
Last season FSU and UF squared off five times and each team hit six homeruns in the series. Florida State and Florida both enter Tuesday night’s game with 12 homers as a team. The one difference is that the FSU staff has yet to surrender a homer in 2006. That is a pretty amazing stat as it is the first time FSU pitchers have gone 11 games without surrendering a homerun in at least seven years. Through 11 games FSU surrendered three homers in 2005, 11 in 2004, five in 2003, five in 2002, four in 2001, 13 in 2000 and three in 1999. FSU pitchers haven’t surrendered a triple as of yet either. Tyler Chambliss will try to keep that streak alive Tuesday versus the Gators. The junior has not surrendered a homer to Florida in his career spanning two years and 36 at bats.
OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
Florida State sophomore Dennis Guinn led No. 6 Florida State in 11 different categories as the Seminoles swept the University of Minnesota behind Guinn’s offensive lead. The first baseman batted .600, slugged 1.100, posted an on base percentage of .643 and drove in six runs, five of which came with two outs in an inning. Guinn hit the first grand slam of the season for FSU in Saturday’s win and it was also the first of his career. Guinn’s six hits were double that of any Seminole in the series and he led FSU with two doubles and a homer in the three games. His 11 total bases were also best on the team versus the Gophers. The Haines City, FL native struck out just one time all weekend while drawing two walks and he was also hit by a pitch. Guinn delivered almost every time he stepped to the plate in a crucial situation this past weekend. He hit .800 with runners on base, 1.000 with the bases loaded, .750 with runners in scoring position and he led the team in two-out RBIs.
PITCHING PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
Right-hander Bryan Henry once again set the tone for No. 6 Florida State’s sweep of an opponent with his second straight stellar performance on a Friday night in a 5-0 shutout in the series opener versus Minnesota. The junior pitched seven innings and scattered seven hits while striking out eight and issuing just two walks. After never being part of a shutout in his career, Henry has now combined on back-to-back shutouts in his last two starts as he raised his consecutive scoreless inning streak to 15 innings. The Tallahassee native threw 95 pitches in making his third quality start of the season. While his streak of innings without a walk ended in the game at 16, Henry has now struck out 17 batters in the last two games, which is a personal best for the right-hander. Henry has also gone back-to-back starts without allowing a run for the first time in his career as he improved his record to 3-0.