TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In the midst of a nine-game winning streak, third-ranked Florida State now turns its attention to ACC play as they welcome Boston College to Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium for three games this weekend.
At 11-2 so far this season, the Noles have noted some expected strong results from areas of their team, while also enjoying a few surprises from newcomers who have stepped in to make immediate impacts.
First Base: Quincy Nieporte’s Hot Start
The senior out of Atlanta, Ga., is hitting .311 while leading the team in home runs (4) and RBIs (22). Nieporte’s two grand slams in 2017 have helped Florida State break games open and bolster the offense.
“I can slow the game down now and I know what beats me and what I can handle,” Nieporte said following the Sunday game against Oakland. “I’ve realized I’m a big enough guy where I can keep my swing short and simple and have good results.”
With freshman infielder Drew Mendoza out due to injury, Nieporte has found himself in the field this season as well, manning first base. Through 13 games, he’s fielding at an impressive .982 clip.
Second Base: Newcomers Give FSU Depth and Versatility
Through the first three weekends, the Noles have to be impressed with what they are receiving from the new talent on the roster. Coach Mike Martin raved about the abilities of numerous new players.
“We’ve got a number of guys on a daily basis that we as a coaching staff feel comfortable with,” Martin said. “It’s so important from a coaching standpoint to feel good with not just seven or eight guys but 13 or 14.”
FSU knew what it would get from a veteran lineup and starting rotation, but newcomers like J.C Flowers (.257, 12 R, 9 RBIs) and Nick Derr (.361, 13 H, 11 R) have stepped in and carried the team at the plate in some games.
JUCO transfer Rhett Aplin (team-high .382, 2 HR, 10 RBI) has shown some pop in his bat and even freshman Tyler Daughtry had a game-winning RBI single on the road in FSU’s comeback at Jacksonville last week.
“I’ve been impressed with how the new guys came in and acclimated themselves with the situation of being in Division I baseball,” junior infielder Dylan Busby said. “Watching them come in to a new level and pick it up like its backyard whiffle ball is awesome.”
On the mound, freshman pitcher Drew Parrish has stepped in and given the Seminoles an impressive weekend start by tossing six scoreless innings against Samford a weekend ago.
Third Base: Starting Rotation Shining
Coming into the season, FSU was expected to have one of the best pitching rotations in the ACC. Through 13 games, the Noles have seen nine strong starts from their starting pitchers. Even when the Noles moved Friday-night ace Drew Carlton to the closer role, Parrish stepped in and contributed.
Tyler Holton (3-0, 0.47 ERA, 19.0 IP, 32 K) has picked up where he left off from his strong 2016 campaign to lead the FSU staff. The southpaw is among the ACC’s leaders in strikeouts after the first few series of the year. Fellow Tallahassee native Cole Sands (2-0, 3.29 ERA, 13.2 IP, 10 K) has impressed as well, flashing his 94 MPH fastball on multiple occasions.
A pleasant surprise has been the strong start by Andrew Karp (0-0, 2.41 ERA, 18.2 IP, 23 K). The redshirt sophomore is getting into a groove in the midweek role for the Noles and was brilliant against USF two weeks ago. In his first start of the season, he threw seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts. The Winter Park, Fla., native will keep getting the nod in some crucial games this season for FSU.
“When the lineup isn’t there because they have a pitcher that’s dealing, it’s good to know we have a chance because our staff is that much more experienced,” Nieporte said. “We have guys that are willing to do what it takes to win.”
Home Plate: Drew Carlton Becomes the Closer
Martin mentioned in the pre-season that he would use the non-conference portion of the schedule to settle on a closer. He quickly decided after the first weekend it was in the team’s best interest to move Carlton from the Friday-night role into the shutdown man.
Carlton (1.42 ERA, 12.2 IP, 2 SV) has excelled in the new position, and he recorded the first save of his career in Jacksonville when he pitched two scoreless innings to close a 6-5 FSU win. He added his second Tuesday at UCF, again pitching a perfect two innings in the save.
Carlton’s versatility and ability to pitch extended innings can come in handy – both when Carlton is needed to pitch multiple times in a weekend, and also when the Seminoles require a steady hand to snuff out rallies late in games.