May 2, 2006
FLORIDA STATE VS. JACKSONVILLE ¡V THE HISTORY
The Seminoles lead the all-time series with JU 107-33 and they are 71-10 (.876) when playing in Tallahassee. With three wins this year, FSU has now won 16 straight games versus JU. The longest win streak for FSU in the series is 18 games set between 1980-2002 while JU’s longest win streak is three games set twice (1972 and 1982). The last time a Seminole squad lost to JU was 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 record was set in 1971 in an identical 13-4 JU win on their campus. FSU has scored 10 or more runs in seven of the last 12 meetings and recorded two shutouts in that stretch. Besides the two shutouts, JU has had success producing runs until this year. The Dolphins had scored three or more runs in eight meetings but have never been closer than five runs in any of those 10 games before this season. In three games this year, Jacksonville has scored no more than two runs in any game. Jacksonville has had a lot of success in the series in games played on their home field but the Seminoles have won 20-straight regular season meetings at home dating back to May 1, 1991. The 20 consecutive home victories are the most consecutive victories at home for FSU versus any opponent. Florida State defeated Pittsburgh 19 straight times from 1983-2002.
Mark Sauls will make his first start since June 11 in the Super Regional versus Florida when FSU and JU face off Wednesday. Sauls has made four appearances this season and pitched just five innings. He has only issued one walk so far and struck out five. Sauls is no stranger to the Dolphins. In three career starts versus JU Sauls is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA. He has 13 K¡¦s and just two walks in those three outings. Last season Sauls picked up a win versus Jacksonville going six innings, allowing six hits and just two runs. He struck out two and issued one walked. Sauls also pitched against JU in 2004 as he went 1 2/3 in a relief appearance. In 2003 the Panama City native started twice versus JU. He went 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA in those two games striking out 11 and walking only one batter. It is hard to read too much into Sauls¡¦ overall numbers considering his limited work so far in 2006. He has been very tough on lefties this season allowing them just one hit but other than that teams are hitting .333 or better with runners on, with the bases empty, when a batter leads off an inning and with a right-handed batter at the plate. Due to an early season injury, this is the latest that Sauls has ever made his first start. In his first start of a season Sauls is 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA. Two of his three first starts came against PAC 10 teams (Stanford in 2003 and Arizona State in 2004). Last season his first start came against Charleston Southern and he did not allow a hit or earned run in 4 2/3 innings.
The Seminoles will switch up the rotation a little bit going into the Wake Forest series. Tyler Chambliss will make the first Friday night start of his career as Bryan Henry¡¦s streak of opening 16 straight weekend series on the hill comes to an end. Chambliss enters the week one of four pitchers tied for the NCAA lead in wins with 10. The Live Oak, FL native leads all FSU starters with a 1.97 ERA and he is the only Seminole with a complete game this year. Chambliss has been a killer versus right-handers who hit just .194 against him this season, the lowest number among any FSU pitcher who has started a game. Chambliss has gone six or more innings in eight straight starts and has only allowed more than two earned runs once in that stretch. Overall, Chambliss has allowed two earned runs or less in 11 of his 13 starts this season. This past weekend the right-hander allowed just two hits and no runs in six innings of work versus Savannah State. It was just the second time this year Chambliss did not allow a run in a start and the first time since February 18 versus UNC Asheville. On top of not allowing a run, there was another good sign for Chambliss in his last outing. His eight K¡¦s were the most since March 25 when Chambliss finished his run of 33 strikeouts in three starts. The junior has been very good on the road this season. He leads FSU with a 4-1 record in away games and has an impressive 2.55 ERA. No Seminole has pitched more innings on the road than Chambliss¡¦ 35 1/3 and his four victories are double anyone else and account for 40% of FSU¡¦s road wins on the year.
Bryan Henry enters the Wake Forest series in an unfamiliar position. Henry will not be the opening pitcher in a series for the first time since April 24, 2005 versus Miami. Although the junior has struggled a little bit lately, he is still just one win shy of leading the NCAA and his ERA of 2.05 is third-best on the team. Henry leads all Seminole starters with a .214 opponent batting average and 85 strikeouts. His K:BB ratio is 4.3:1 which is also best among FSU starting pitchers. One of the reasons Henry has been moved back a day in the rotation is his trademark control has not been quite as sharp as it was earlier in the season. After walking four and striking out five in his first start of 2006, Henry went eight straight starts with at least five more strikeouts than walks. In his last four starts he hasn¡¦t done that once. His K:BB ratio went from over 18:1 in starts 2-7 to less than 2:1 in starts 8-13. His ERA has more than doubled from a season-low 0.85 after his fifth start of the season. The junior is not giving up more hits on average but he is giving up more big hits. Henry had not allowed a homerun in the first eight starts of 2006 but has allowed three in the last five starts, two of which have been grand slams. There are other indicators showing that Henry has not had the same control as he had earlier. The junior did not hit a batter in his first seven starts but has plunked four in his last six outings. In his last seven starts he is putting about two runners on base per game via a HBP or walk. That is double what he did in the first six games of the season. While things sound bad for Henry, you have to keep it in perspective. He is still one of the best pitchers in the ACC but is probably suffering a little bit from setting the bar so high for himself. The Tallahassee native is still FSU¡¦s best starter on the road when it comes to his 2.08 ERA and no FSU starter has a better road K:BB ration than Henry¡¦s 4:1 mark. Henry has had a little trouble with runners on base in road games as teams hit .313 in that situation off the right-hander but he has only allowed six runs in four road starts so that number isn¡¦t a huge concern.
SUNDAY STARTER TBA
THE LAST GAME VS. JU
For the second time this season, Florida State took the trip across I-10 to meet its rival to the east, and came back home with a 10-1 victory. The ten runs FSU scored were the most since Florida State scored 12 in a victory in May 2005. Michael Hyde threw six innings in picking up the victory. He gave up six hits, one run (none earned), struck out five and walked only two. Florida State got off to an early start, as Ryne Malone singled in Shane Robinson and Jack Rye in the top of the first to give FSU an early 2-0 lead. Florida State then capitalized on two of Jacksonville¡¦s four errors to increase their lead to 5-0 in the second. Jacksonville capitalized on a Florida State error to get on the board at 5-1. In the seventh, Jacksonville was trailing 7-1 but back-to-back hits ended Michael Hyde¡¦s outing and brought Brian Chambers into the game. Chambers used a double play and a fly-out to end any chance of a Dolphin comeback. Florida State would go on to score three more in the ninth to end the game. For the game, Robinson went 3-for-6 and knocked in two runs. Malone and Buster Posey each added two RBIs for the Seminoles. The Seminole bullpen of Brian Chambers, Jimmy Marshall and Matt DiBlasi combined to throw three innings, giving up one hit and striking out three.
THE 2006 SERIES
Florida State has won all three games this season by scores of 4-1, 4-2 and 10-1. The last two games have started to bring out FSU¡¦s offensive firepower, as the Seminoles have had at least 10 hits in each of those games. In the three games, Buster Posey is leading the Seminoles hitting .417, with two doubles and three RBIs. Ryan Strauss has also knocked in two runs while hitting .364. Ryne Malone has hit the lone homerun of the series for either team, while leading Florida State with four RBIs. Michael Hyde led FSU on the mound with a 2-0 record and a 1.46 ERA against the Dolphins this year. He has given up only two earned runs (three total) and has struck out nine in 12 1/3 innings of work. The Seminole bullpen has not give up a run yet to the Dolphins and has allowed only two hits. Luke Tucker has earned two saves in two innings of work, giving up zero hits and striking out five of six batters he has faced.
IF THE PREVIOUS GAMES ARE ANY INDICATION, LOOK FOR FSU TO:
– Put leadoff runners on base. Florida State is 11-for-26 (.423) when the leadoff batter is at the plate. Danny Diaz and Tony Thomas Jr. lead the Seminoles, as both as perfect when starting off an inning.
– Bring the runner home. With a runner on third and less than two outs, Florida State has been successful 50% of the time scoring that run. Mark Gildea is one of four Seminoles perfect in this situation.
– Quiet the bats. The Florida State pitching staff has a combined ERA of 1.00, while allowing the Dolphins only four hits in 94 at bats (.191). Brent Marsh and Luke Tucker lead a Seminole bullpen that has given up zero runs and only two hits.
– Wait for their pitch. Florida State has 17 walks in three games, an average of almost six per game. Jack Rye and Ryne Malone each have four free passes, nearly as many as the entire Jacksonville squad (9)
This will be the ninth and final mid-week game for Florida State this year and the Seminoles have posted a 7-1 record in those games, with three of those victories coming against Jacksonville. The lone loss came against Florida. Last year, Florida State was 14-3 when playing on a weekday, including a 12-0 record on Tuesday and Wednesday. For the season, Florida State has outscored their opponents 59-28 in mid-week games. The Seminoles scored a weekday season high of 14 against Winthrop and have given up a weekday season high of eight twice, in the victory against Winthrop, and in the lone weekday loss against Florida.
FSU VS. WAKE FOREST ¡V THE SERIES
Florida State leads the overall series against Wake Forest 60-16 (.789), with a 14-4 record in Winston-Salem. The sixty victories are second most against an ACC opponent (Miami 131) and the .789 win percentage is fourth highest among ACC opponents (Maryland .941, Virginia Tech .867 and Virginia .796). The Seminoles have won 10 of the last 11 games against the Demon Deacons and swept them the last time they played in Winston-Salem. The last time Wake Forest won at home versus Florida State was March 25, 2002 (7-5). Since joining the ACC in 1992, Florida State has taken home the series victory 11 of 14 times, which includes 10 sweeps. The Seminoles have swept the Demon Deacons in North Carolina in five of the last seven series but actually lost two of the last three series in Winston-Salem.
Florida State took three of four games from Wake Forest last year, by scores of 7-5, 4-3, 10-13, and a 7-3 victory in the ACC tournament. The two teams met for a three game series at Dick Howser Stadium, with the Seminoles looking to extend their seven game winning streak against Wake Forest.
Game one saw FSU bounce back from a 5-0 deficit to win 7-5. Wake started out racking up a 1-0 lead in the first. In the second, Wake extended their lead, using two errors off of starting pitcher Barrett Browning to add a run, before back-to-back singles opened up the game to a 4-0 WFU lead and a third miscue on a double play gave the Demon Deacons a 5-0 lead. FSU would strike back in the bottom half of the third, as a Ryne Malone sacrifice fly would bring in Ryne Jernigan to cut the lead to four. In the fourth, Wake would put two more on base, ending Browning¡¦s day and bringing in Brian Chambers, who used a double play to end the threat. In the fifth inning, Florida State put on the rally caps and stormed back. A hit batter and a walk brought up Jack Rye, whose infield single loaded the bases for Brant Peacher. Peacher came through with a two-RBI single cutting the lead to 5-3. Another infield single, this time by Gibbs Chapman, brought up Jernigan, who would go on to hit his first career grand slam and give the Seminoles the 7-5 lead and the victory. Chambers would pitch 4 2/3 innings of relief for the victory, giving up only one hit while striking out four and Tyler Chambliss pitched a perfect ninth to earn his ninth save of the year.
The second game of the three game series saw Florida State get another come from behind victory this time by a score of 4-3. Florida State got out to an early lead, putting two runs up in the first inning behind Aaron Cheesman¡¦s sacrifice fly and an error. The Demon Deacons would respond in the second, using a hit batter and a single off of starter Michael Hyde before a bases-clearing double would tie the game up 2-2. The Demon Deacons would then go on to take the lead off an RBI single. For the game, Hyde went 5 2/3 innings, giving up all three Wake runs on only three hits, walking three and striking out five. Neither team could get back on the board until the sixth inning, when Shane Robinson hit a two-out smash to bring in Danny Wardell from third to tie the game up. FSU finished off the Demon Deacons in the bottom of the eighth. Bryan Henry started things off for the Seminoles with a single to center, followed by Tony Thomas¡¦s double to put runners on second and third. That would bring in Kyle Young to pitch for Wake Forest and he would go on to walk Robinson and Malone back-to-back to bring in the winning run for FSU. Chambliss would then come on to pitch a perfect ninth and take home his ACC-leading 10th save of the year. For Florida State, Henry led the Seminoles, going 2-for-4, and Kevin Lynch earned his sixth victory of the year, coming on in relief to throw 2 1/3 innings, giving up only two hits while striking out two.
In the series finale, Florida State looked to extend their home winning streak against Wake Forest to sixteen, but after 12 long innings, the streak would end as Wake Forest escaped Tallahassee with a 13-10 victory. Wake took a 6-1 lead into the sixth, when the Seminoles rallied to close the gap to 6-5, highlighted by Ryne Jernigan¡¦s two-run double. Thomas¡¦s home run in the ninth tied the game up at six as the game moved into extra innings. In the top of the twelfth, the Demon Deacons scored seven runs and Florida State came close, rallying to score four, and bringing the tying run to the plate, but the comeback would end there. The stars for Florida State were relievers Matt DiBlasi and Kevin Lynch, along with closer Tyler Chambliss. The three combined for seven shutout innings, three hits, two walks and eight strikeouts. Ryne Malone was also a huge contributor, going 3×4 with a double, an RBI and three walks.
The fourth and final battle between the two teams took place in Jacksonville at the ACC Championships, where Florida State would use Michael Hyde¡¦s career high 7 2/3 innings of unearned run ball to take a 7-3 victory. The win allowed Florida State to clinch their 22nd 50 win season and their 14th straight semi-final appearance. Hyde would scatter nine hits to go along with one walk and six strikeouts as he did not allow an earned run. Wake struck first, using an error to help bring in two runners. Danny Wardell cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second with the first hit of the day for Florida State, which was a home run. A Brant Peacher walk, followed by Jack Rye¡¦s 13th double of the season, put runners in scoring position for Florida State. A wild pitch advanced the runners and tied the game 2-2. Thomas¡¦s sacrifice fly scored Rye and gave the Seminoles a 3-2 lead, which they would never relinquish. A three run fourth would give the Seminoles some insurance runs.
WHO TO WATCH FOR
Shane Robinson led the Seminoles last year versus the Demon Deacons with a .412 batting average (7×17), complimented by a triple and two RBIs, along with six steals. Ryne Malone and Tony Thomas Jr. both went yard for Florida State and Malone followed up with three doubles and four RBIs to go along with a .357 average (5×14). In two starts, Michael Hyde threw 13 1/3 innings, gave up six runs (three earned), walked four and struck out 11 for the Seminoles. Relievers Brian Chambers, Tyler Chambliss and Kevin Lynch combined to work 15 1/3 innings picking up two wins (Chambers, Lynch), two saves (Chambliss), allowing three runs (zero earned), only two walks and 16 strikeouts.
IF LAST YEAR WAS ANY INDICATION, LOOK FOR FSU TO:
,,X Let Shane Steal: Shane Robinson accounted for six steals, one less than Wake Forest¡¦s entire team (7)
,,X Score the Runner: With a runner on third and less than two outs, Florida State successfully brought the runner home 62% of the time. Jack Rye was perfect in this situation and Ryne Malone was 2×3 in this scenario.
,,X Keep the Run from Scoring: The entire pitching staff gave up only 12 earned runs, for a combined team ERA of 2.77. Brian Chambers and Tyler Chambliss were two of five pitchers to not give up an earned run at all in the four games against Wake Forest.
THE ENVELOPE PLEASE
It is getting close to the end of the regular season and postseason award watch lists are starting to be released. Florida State players are up for every award this season. Luke Tucker is on the watch list for the Stopper of the Year Award. Bryan Henry and Tyler Chambliss are both in the running for the Roger Clemens Award honoring the nation¡¦s top pitcher. The first national player of the year watch list is out and Henry and Shane Robinson are both included on the Dick Howser Trophy watch list. One name that is missing from the Howser list is FSU first baseman Dennis Guinn. The slugging sophomore¡¦s numbers stack up with all seven first baseman on the Dick Howser Trophy watch list. While his average is just fifth-best among the group he is third in hits, doubles and runs and fourth in RBIs.
Fans who want to see the future of ACC baseball should make the trek to Winston-Salem this weekend where two of the best freshmen in the conference will square off. Buster Posey and Allan Dykstra are looking like the top two newcomers at the plate this season. The two players combine to lead the pool of ACC Freshman of the Year candidates in seven of eight major offensive categories. Posey leads in batting average, hits and runs while Dykstra has the edge in power numbers as he leads in doubles, homers, RBIs and walks. Posey is out slugging the Wake Forest power hitter though. Posey has the best average among the top six hitting freshmen in the ACC and he has a double digit edge among this group in runs scored. Posey is also just six points away from being tied with the leader for slugging percentage as well. Posey has been phenomenal as of late. In the last five games the Leesburg, GA native has 11 hits. He is batting .579, slugging .789 and posting an on base percentage of .619. With his play as of late, Posey has taken over the team lead in bating average ahead of Dennis Guinn and 2005 National Player of the Year Shane Robinson.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
When you are fighting for a division title usually the last thing you want to hear is that two of your final three conference series are on the road. That may not be the case for FSU though. Florida State has been better on the road than it has been at home this year in ACC play. The Seminoles are 7-5 at Dick Howser Stadium this season in ACC games but they are 6-3 on the road. Last year FSU was 7-8 on the road in the ACC but Florida State does have a tradition of success playing at other ACC parks. In 2004 the Seminoles were 8-4 on the road and in 2003 they did even better posting a 9-3 mark. Since 1992, FSU has had a losing ACC record on the road just twice in 14 seasons and overall FSU is 113-62 including 2006. The Seminoles have won an astounding 65% of their away games within the conference. With key series at Wake and Clemson left, FSU will need to rely on that road warrior mentality if they hope to capture the first-ever Atlantic Division title.
IT¡¦S ALL RIGHT THERE
Despite the fact FSU has dropped three of its last four conference series the team can still reach its goal of a top seed in the ACC Tournament and an Atlantic Division Championship. Of the three teams joining FSU in the top four of the Atlantic Division, all of them are still on FSU¡¦s schedule. The Seminoles last three ACC series are against division-leader Clemson, second-place Wake Forest and NC State who is in fourth place after dropping 2 of 3 to Miami. Florida State is just one game behind Wake in the loss column and two behind Clemson. What is also encouraging is that FSU has had success against those three teams. The Seminoles have won five of the last seven regular season series from the Wolfpack, three straight series versus Wake Forest and five straight against Clemson. Wake Forest still has to play two of the three teams in the top four and Miami, Clemson still has two of those three teams while NC State just has FSU left plus Virginia Tech.