April 7, 2005
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WAKE SERIES
The Seminoles are currently riding a seven game win streak against Wake Forest dating back to the 2002 season. The last time FSU played the Demon Deacons was during ACC play in 2004 when FSU took all three games in the series in
WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR
STARTING AGREES WITH HIM
Nobody is happier about returning to ACC play this weekend than sophomore designated hitter Brant Peacher. He is hitting .485 in FSU’s nine ACC games, which is the third best conference batting average coming into the weekend. His 10 RBIs in ACC play lead the team along with his 16 hits, three doubles, one homer, .667 slugging percentage and .500 on base percentage. The DH’s ACC numbers are more a product of his hot hitting as of late then anything else. Since taking over as the full time designated hitter 14 games ago, Peacher is hitting .458, which leads the team. He has four doubles, a homer and a team-leading 14 RBIs with a .604 slugging percentage. He has at least one hit in 12 of those 14 games and is currently on an eight-game hitting streak. Eight of those 12 games have been multi-hit games as he has collected 22 hits in that 14 game span. He also has an RBI in nine of those 14 games and four of those nine games were multi-RBI outings.
I TOLD YOU
Those fans and staff members that are lucky enough to see the Seminoles play day in and day out knew Ryne Malone’s breakout was coming. The sophomore Brooks Wallace National Player of the Year candidate was not off to the start he hoped in 2005. Despite being just five hits behind where he was at this point last year when he garnered freshman All-American honors, his average and power numbers were both down but he had been hitting the ball well as of late and it was just a matter of time. Malone’s time has come. In the last eight games Malone is hitting .467 with four doubles, a home run, 21 total bases, five RBIs and a .700 slugging percentage. He hit his second home run of the season versus Jacksonville Wednesday night and he had back-to-back two double games for the first time in his career. Malone had just one game with two doubles all of last season and only doubled in consecutive games five times. Through the same number of at bats in 2004 and 2005, Malone’s average is 43 points lower this season but he is only five hits shy of his total at this point last year. He has more doubles this year (10 to 9), more walks (20 to 16) and fewer strike outs (25 to 31). The sophomore’s power numbers are off with six fewer homers (2 to 8) and 14 fewer RBIs (21 to 35) but he is definitely coming around in that area over the past three weeks.
THEY COME IN BUNCHES
The 2005 Seminoles are not a team that wins with the long ball. There is some power on this year’s squad but with 19 homers through 37 games nobody will mistake this team with 1985 squad that hit a school record 146 or even last year’s team that hit 81. When this year’s team hits home runs though, they hit them in bunches. FSU has homered in 11 games this season and six of those games have been multi-homer games. That means 14 of the teams 19 homers have come in six games that is 73% of the home runs coming in 16% of FSU’s games. The homers are also coming from all different places. Eleven different Seminoles have gone yard this season and no one has more than four homers while six players have at least two. Eight of the team’s 11 homers have been solo shots and only three have been three or four run homers.
SPEAKING OF HOME RUNS
The fifth inning versus Jacksonville was memorable in more ways than one. Both Tony Thomas, Jr. and Bryan Henry hit the first homers of their FSU careers that inning and Ryne Malone joined them as FSU went yard three times in the frame. It was the first time since June 1, 2003 versus South Alabama that an FSU team has done that. On that day Tony McQuade, Tony Richie and current assistant Jerrod Brown all homered. Henry, Thomas and Malone joined a list that includes some of the greatest players ever to wear Garnet & Gold when it comes to three home runs in one inning. In 2002 Ryan Barthelemy (2) and Stephen Drew accomplished the feat versus FAMU. The Seminoles went deep three times in an inning in 1999 as well. This time it was versus Maryland and the homers came from Marshall McDougall, John Halliday and Kevin Cash. In 1997 J.D. Drew, Jeremy Morris and Scott Zech did it against UCF. Of the 11 FSU players that have been part of a three homer inning since 1997, two have been first round draft picks, two are playing in the majors, four were first team All-Americans and seven received All-American honors during their careers.
HE AIN’T JUST A PRETTY GLOVE
Tony Thomas, Jr. has made a name for himself this season by continually getting on base and playing stellar defense at second. Now he is challenging those perceptions by swinging one of the hottest bats on the team. In the last 11 games, Thomas has 12 hits and is batting .364. He leads the team with 15 runs scored and two triples. He also has three doubles, a home run and five RBIs. He had his first three-hit game versus Jacksonville on top of his first bomb and as usual his on base percentage over that span was a team best .512. Thomas is tied for the ACC lead with four triples and his on base percentage is just outside the top 10.
BALANCE OF POWER
One of the reasons FSU is 30-7 is the team’s balance. Florida State is the only team in the conference in the top four for both team batting average and ERA. The Seminoles are also the only team in the ACC in the top three for hitting and pitching in conference games. No ACC squad has displayed as good of a combination of hitting and pitching as FSU. The balance Florida State has shown in conference games is a big reason for the 7-2 start. Miami is the only ACC team in the top four for both hitting and pitching in conference games. Overall, FSU ranks fourth in team batting and third in team pitching and in ACC games the Seminoles are third in both categories. Georgia Tech leads all ACC teams in batting average but is seventh in team ERA. Carolina leads all teams in ERA but they are fifth overall in team batting.
HOW RARE WAS THAT?
After a 0-for-4 outing that ended Shane Robinson’s 40 game hit streak, the sophomore started the next game with Jacksonville hitless in his first three at bats. That was the first time since May 20, 2004 that the Player of the Year candidate went seven consecutive at bats without a hit. He quickly remedied the situation with two hits, one a double, in his final two at bats but it really speaks to how amazing Robinson has been. The sophomore went 49 straight games without going hitless over seven at bats. Putting together back-to-back games without a hit is pretty common even for the greatest hitters. Last year first round draft pick Stephen Drew went hitless in back-to-back games four times while it happened to Robinson just once in almost 50 games.
A TALE OF TWO GAMES
You would never guess it by the score but FSU’s 9-0 win and 11-4 win over Jacksonville really couldn’t have been more different from an offensive standpoint. While FSU only scored two more runs in the second meeting, they hit 141 points higher (.405 compared to .264) and slugged an amazing 401 points higher (.784 versus .383). In the first meeting FSU had two extra base hits (a double and a home run) but in the second game they collected a season high eight (five doubles and three homers). The three homers in a game tied a season-high as well. One thing that didn’t change was the way FSU used its pitchers as the coaches followed the exact plan they used in game one. They once again got a quality start from the starter and then used three relievers for one inning each.
NOT AS EASY AS 1-2-3
There aren’t a whole lot of certainties in life except, as the old saying goes, death and taxes. When it comes to Seminole baseball in 2005, the one certainty was the first three spots in the batting order. Coming into the JU game Wednesday, FSU had played 36 games and in 35 of those outings Shane Robinson batted first, Gibbs Chapman batted second and Aaron Cheesman batted third. The only exception was in the second game of a double header versus Duke when Cheesman was given the game off. The certainty at the top of the order ended versus Jacksonville. A minor injury kept Chapman out of the line-up and first baseman Ryne Malone not only slid into his position in left field but he wound up in Gibbs’ place in the batting order as well. Malone must have liked it there going 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, two runs scored and two RBIs. Hitting second behind Robinson with a bat as hot as Malone’s has been is a dangerous combination and Malone proved that against JU.