March 21, 2007 - by
GAMEDAY CENTRAL: Florida State Travels To Jacksonville For Wednesday Night Showdown

March 21, 2007

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Florida State heads out on the road for just the second time this season when they travel to the First Coast to square-off against the Jacksonville Dolphins on Wednesday, March 21. First pitch is slated for 6:00 pm at Alexander Brest Field. The Seminoles lead the all-time series 110-33, while maintaining a mark of 37-23 in games played in Jacksonville. FSU is currently riding an 18-game winning streak over the Dolphins, including eight in a row on their home turf, with JU’s last win over Florida State coming on February 24, 2002 in Jacksonville. The Dolphins won that game 13-4. It tied the series record for the most runs scored by JU versus FSU and the widest margin of victory for JU. The two teams met five times last season including a match-up in the opening round of the NCAA Regional in Athens, Ga., a game in which Florida State won 18-0. Two of the five games were played in Jacksonville a year ago as Florida State won both, outscoring JU 14-2. This is the first of three meetings between these intra-state rivals as the final two will both be played in Tallahassee on April 10 and May 8.

Jacksonville enters the week with an overall record of 14-13 and a 1-2 mark in the Atlantic Sun. The Dolphins began league play in the Atlantic Sun last weekend dropping two of three from the Belmont Bruins in Nashville, Tenn. JU will play a pair of mid-weeks beginning Tuesday, March 20 at Bethune-Cookman before returning home to face the Seminoles on Wednesday. JU boasts a home record of 10-6 as the Dolphins have won seven of their last eight home games. Through 27 games, Jacksonville is hitting .285, while posting a team ERA of 5.20. Three everyday starters are hitting over .300 led by redshirt senior Pete Clifford who leads all hitters with a .380 mark. Ryan McArdle, who transferred from FSU to JU after last season, lead the Dolphins with five home runs. Projected starter, rhp, D.J. Ackley is 0-1 in three starts. He has appeared in seven games for the Dolphins posting an ERA of 9.00.

Florida State and Jacksonville met five times last season with the Seminoles winning all five games. It was the most games played by the two teams in a single year since the 1980 season when the Seminoles and Dolphins faced off six times, with FSU winning all six. Last year, FSU outscored the Dolphins 45-6 as the Seminoles recorded at least 10 hits in the last four meetings. Florida State hit .322 against JU last year scoring 45 runs on 56 hits. On the defensive side, the Seminoles posted a team ERA of 0.86, while registering a .989 fielding percentage committing just two errors in 190 opportunities.

Ryan Strauss led the team with a .450 batting average against the Dolphins going 9-for-20 at the plate with four doubles, four runs scored and eight RBI’s. Tony Thomas, Jr. hit .375 last year in five games with a double, a home run and five RBI’s. Buster Posey was just as effective at the plate as he posted seven hits, including three doubles, while scoring seven runs and driving in four. Michael Hyde made three starts and recorded three victories as he pitched 17.2 innings against the Dolphins allowing just three runs, two earned, on 13 hits. He struck out 15 batters, while walking seven. The Seminoles also collected three saves in the series, including two by Luke Tucker and one by Travis Burge.

Last year also marked the first time the two teams played a game on a neutral site as the intra-state rivals squared off in the opening round of the NCAA Regional in Athens, Ga. It was the seventh time in the series the squads had met in postseason play (FSU 6-1).

Last season’s results:
March 22, 2006 – Florida State 4, Jacksonville 1 (at Jacksonville)
April 4, 2006 – Florida State 4, Jacksonville 2 (at Tallahassee)
April 12, 2006 – Florida State 10, Jacksonville 1 (at Jacksonville)
May 3, 2006 – Florida State 9, Jacksonville 2 (at Tallahassee)
June 2, 2006 – Florida State 18, Jacksonville 0 (at Athens, Ga.)

Tony Thomas, Jr. has had a lot of success against Jacksonville in his career. The Valrico, Fla., native is the only Seminole to start all nine games against JU over the past two seasons as he has posted a career batting average of .462 (12-for-26). He has posted 15 runs, 10 RBI’s and three home runs in that nine game span to go along with the nine walks, two hit-by-pitches and two sacrifice hits he has accumulated. Thomas has also worked his magic in the field as he has a perfect 1.000 career fielding percentage against JU converting on all 41 opportunities at second base.

WEDNESDAY: Caleb Graham will make his first collegiate start on Wednesday night against Jacksonville. The sophomore right hander has appeared in eight games this season pitching 13.2 innings allowing six runs, four earned, on eight hits. He has struck out 13 batters, while walking seven. Graham is limiting opponents to a .143 batting average on the year. He pitched a season-high three innings in back-to-back games against North Florida and Siena. His three innings of work against the Saints earned Graham his first collegiate save. After striking out one batter in his first four appearances, the Tampa, Fla., native has posted three strikeouts in four consecutive games. His last three strikeout performance came in 1.1 innings of work against Wake Forest last Saturday night. Graham pitched a career-high four innings last year against Florida on April 19.

Wednesday’s game against Jacksonville marks the third mid-week for the Seminoles in 2007. FSU is 2-0 this season in mid-week contests defeating Florida 14-6 in Gainesville, while downing North Florida 16-3 in Tallahassee. After the game against the Dolphins, the Seminoles will play five more mid-weeks games including two more against JU, two more against Florida and versus North Florida.

Florida State played its first extra inning game of the season on Friday against Wake Forest and came through with a victory defeating the Deacs 7-6 in 11 innings. Junior Jack Rye, who has come through in clutch situations for the Seminoles this season, provided FSU with its first walk-off hit of the season singling home the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the 11th. Rye registered his third RBI of the game as his single glanced off the glove of the leaping second baseman. The ball trickled away just enough to allow Rye to reach first and pinch runner Ryan Strauss to score from third for the game-winner.

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