TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the first time since 2015, Florida State defeated Miami in a weekend series, taking two of three games over their rivals from Coral Gables.
The three-game set was highlighted by strong starting pitching from the Seminoles and Mike Martin tying Augie Garrido for the all-time career wins record. FSU also gained ground in the ACC Atlantic Division race with two premiere series left in the race for the conference division crown.
The Noles have been dealt numerous blows this season in the form of injuries to some of the top arms on the staff.
With veterans like Tyler Holton, Chase Haney, and Will Zirzow expected to miss all or a large chunk of the 2018 season, numerous freshmen have been thrown into the fire. An already rearranged starting rotation took another hit when junior Cole Sands was announced to miss some time as well with soreness in his arm. That forced Drew Parrish into the Friday role, while it inserted CJ Van Eyk into the rotation at the Saturday spot.
It was a welcoming sign against the Hurricanes when both talented, young hurlers dazzled in their respective starts.
“It’s big because when we get some of our guys back, it’ll allow us to move things around,” Martin said on having his pitchers finding their grooves.
“We want it to be Sands, Parrish and Karp in some order and that allows Van Eyk and (Austin) Pollock to be in the bullpen. You have no idea what a couple of extra arms can do there.”
Parrish was brilliant in the opener when his team needed him most.
The sophomore found himself locked in a pitcher’s duel with Miami’s Jeb Bargfeldt, in what would eventually become a 2-0 FSU win. The lefty tossed 8 innings of shutout ball, scattering just 4 hits, while striking out 13 batters in a new career-high for the Rockledge, Fla., native.
“You could tell early on, they (Miami’s hitters) were having a tough time squaring him up and he had all his stuff working,” Cal Raleigh said on Parrish after catching for him on the night.
Van Eyk would not be outdone on Saturday in a 10-1 FSU triumph, clinching the series in the biggest start of his short career.
The freshman dazzled through 7.1 innings of work, giving up just one run, while striking out a career-high 10 batters. He displayed a hammer of a 12-6 curveball and touched 95 MPH with his fastball during the outing, displaying the traits that made him a blue-chip prospect entering the season.
“I thought I had a better game plan today than I did (last week),” Van Eyk said on his start.
“Just wanted to come out and make sure I was attacking the zone and throwing strikes.”
Saturday also served as a memorable evening, when Martin moved into a tie with the legendary Augie Garrido for the all-time wins record. Astonishingly, the 1,975 career wins have all come at Florida State, Martin’s alma mater, in 39 seasons of work, eight fewer years than Garrido.
“For me to act like it’s not a big deal, that’s hogwash,” Martin said Saturday night after the game. “This program is built on togetherness and I just got an opportunity to work for this great university.”
In his time at FSU, Martin has reached the NCAA Tournament in every season as the head coach, while also winning at least 40 games each year. His 16 College World Series appearances are the most by any coach in the history of the game.
When the Seminoles travel to Clemson for a Saturday-Monday trio of games, Martin and the Seminoles will have a chance to break the record and sit atop the perch as the man with the most wins the game has ever known.
While the series win was a big one for morale and bragging rights over the ‘Canes, the weekend provided an opportunity to remain on the heels of Clemson and NC State in the divisional race.
FSU entered the weekend in third place, 3.5 games behind the Wolfpack who were leading the standings, but after North Carolina swept NC State in Raleigh, the Noles find themselves just 1.5 games back of the Pack.
The Tigers, on the other hand, took the lead over both teams with a sweep of Virginia in Charlottesville, now jumping to 17-7 in ACC play and holding a two-game lead over NC State (15-9) and a 3.5 game advantage over the Seminoles (13-10). As the Seminoles still have a road series at Clemson and a home series against NC State to finish the regular season, the opportunity is there to claim the division.