May 26, 2006
SETTING THE STAGE
Florida State and Virginia meet in a rematch of the opening game of the 2006 ACC Tournament, which the Cavs won 6-2. After not facing each other in the regular season, the teams will meet for the second time this season and the ninth time in ACC Tournament history. The Seminoles lead the series 5-3 but Virginia has a better winning percentage (.375) versus FSU in the tournament than any other ACC school with the exception of Georgia Tech (.545) and Clemson (.412). Florida State entered the game with the Cavs 31-1 when they out hit their opponents but for just the second time this season FSU had more hits (8-6) and lost a game. The last time that happened was March 18 versus Virginia Tech when the Seminoles out hit the Hokies 12-10 but lost 9-7. The Seminoles will face left-hander Mike Ballard. Despite falling to southpaw Sean Doolittle Wednesday, FSU does fare better versus left-handed pitchers. Florida State is 14-5 (.737) versus leftie starters compared to 26-13 (.667) versus righties.
REASONS TO BELIEVE
Florida State has lost the first game of the ACC Tournament on three occasions (1993, 1994 and 2006). The previous two times FSU lost the first game, the team went on to win at least three straight games following the loss. In 1993 Florida State lost to Clemson and then beat Virginia, Georgia Tech (the No. 1 seed) and Clemson. In 1994 the Seminoles opened with a loss to NC State and then beat Maryland, Wake Forest, Clemson and NC State.
This will be the 10th time FSU will face a team for the second time in the same ACC Tournament. Florida State has an all-time record of 7-3 in those rematches. When FSU lost the first game against an ACC opponent and then played them again, the Seminoles went 3-1. The only time FSU had a rematch with Virginia in the ACC Tournament was in 1996. That year UVA beat FSU 3-2 then Florida State came back and won the next game 8-2. The Cavaliers won the next game to capture their only ACC Championship.
YEAR OPPONENT GM 1 GM 2 GM 3
1994 NC State L W NA
1995 Clemson W W NA
1996 Virginia L W L
1997 Duke W W NA
1997 Clemson W W NA
1998 Wake Forest W L L
2001 NC State W L NA
2002 Clemson W W NA
2004 Georgia Tech L W W
2005 Georgia Tech L L NA
A LOOK BACK
Florida State’s walk-off win versus North Carolina was the biggest comeback of the season for the Seminoles. FSU came back from a 5-1 deficit to win the game. That was the farthest the 2006 squad has come from behind in a win or a loss. The previous best was a 6-3 comeback in a 14-8 win over North Florida March 28.
The Seminoles win over North Carolina kept an incredible record alive. With the victory, FSU is still the only ACC team to win at least one game in every ACC Tournament it has played in.
Dennis Guinn’s grand slam, that put FSU in front 6-5, was his school-record third of the season. He joins FSU legends Jeremy Morris and J.D. Drew as the only three players to ever do that.
Two of the last four grand slams hit in ACC Tournament play have been hit by Seminoles now. Guinn’s on Wednesday and Mickey Lopez’s in 1995. Both came against the Tar Heels. FSU has been a part of the last three grand slams as NC State hit one in 2004 versus the Seminoles.
FSU struck out 15 times versus UVA Wednesday and then struck out 15 versus UNC Thursday.
Watch for the Cavs to run as FSU has allowed 9 of 11 base stealers to swipe a base in the tourney.
Luke Tucker has thrown 20 pitches in the tournament and 17 have been strikes. He fanned five of the six batters he has faced.