January 30, 2006 - by
WEEKLY RELEASE: No. 8 FSU Baseball Opens The Season Friday Versus CSU At 4:00 pm

Jan. 30, 2006

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    After beginning last season against Charleston Southern, Florida State will open 2006 versus CSU once again. This is the third time the teams will open their seasons against one another with FSU going 5-0. Florida State is 14-0 all-time against CSU since they first met in 1992. The Seminoles have outscored the Buccaneers 137-32 in their 14 games. FSU has scored in the double digits in eight of the 14 games.  The Seminoles won 2-1, 9-2 and 11-4 against Charleston Southern in last year’s series. Shane Robinson started his record breaking season by batting .545 with a slugging percentage of .727 in the series.  FSU had 22 RBIs with 11 coming from graduates Gibbs Chapman (4) and Aaron Cheesman (7) while CSU had only 4. Last season’s pitching staff had a 1.33 ERA in the series with graduate Kevin Lynch earning two wins.  Current junior Michael Hyde picked up the other win while holding CSU to a .125 batting average. Tyler Chambliss picked up two of his 15 season saves while striking out five batters. The closest match between the schools came last season and in 2003 when Florida State won 2-1. 



    FRIDAY: Bryan Henry will make the first opening day start of his Florida State career when he takes the mound versus Charleston Southern Friday. The junior opened last season versus the Buccaneers in his first game as a Seminole playing third base. What a difference a year has made. Henry is coming off a season in which he was named an All-ACC first team pitcher and Most Outstanding Player at the Tallahassee NCAA Regional. Last season, Henry led FSU with eight quality starts despite starting just 11 games on the hill and all eight quality starts came in consecutive games. He led all FSU starters with nine wins and despite starting for just half the season Henry was second on the squad with 89.0 innings pitched. The Tallahassee native allowed the second-fewest hits of any FSU starter (71), he led all FSU starters in ERA (2.22) and finished the regular season the No.1 pitcher in the ACC for ERA, ERA in conference games and opponent batting average in ACC play. His ERA was more than three-quarters of a run less than any other ACC player in overall games and in ACC games alone during the regular season. Henry was also third in the nation for ERA entering Super Regional play. Henry became a phenomenon after he recorded wins versus NCAA Tournament teams Florida, Miami, Virginia, North Carolina, NC State and Auburn especially after notching victories over Miami and Florida came in the same week. In those eight starts versus NCAA Tournament teams, Henry went 6-2 with a 2.80 ERA recording 37 strikeouts and just 14 walks in 61 innings pitched. He held opposing batters to an average of just .243 in those games. Six of those eight starts were quality starts and five times in those eight games he allowed one earned run or less.


    SATURDAY: The second game of the Charleston Southern series should mark just the second career start for Tyler Chambliss. FSU’s ace closer in 2005, Chambliss moves into the starting rotation this year. The only other start of Chambliss’ career came in a key victory for FSU on its way to the 2004 ACC Championship. With the Seminoles needing to down No. 5 Georgia Tech twice to capture the title, Chambliss took the hill to start a game for the first time in his Seminole career. The sophomore pitched a career long six innings and struck out a career-high seven batters. He held a Yellow Jacket squad on a 20-game win streak to just three runs setting the stage for an 8-7 FSU victory en route to the ACC Title the next day. Chambliss was dominant for FSU out of the bullpen last season. He was first in the ACC and fourth in the nation with 15 saves. He finished 2005 just three saves shy of tying the single season FSU record and was named an NCBWA third team All-American. The Live Oak, FL native allowed earned runs in only nine of his 39 appearances and had a hand in 22 of the Seminoles’ 53 victories. No FSU pitcher allowed fewer hits per nine innings of work than Chambliss and his average of 12.6 K’s per nine innings was almost three better than any FSU pitcher with more than six innings pitched. The right-hander allowed just three extra base hits all season. Florida State was 29-7 when Chambliss was the Seminoles’ final pitcher of a game.


    SUNDAY: Left-hander Barret Browning is expected to make just his second start since May 8, 2005 in the series finale. His last start came against NC State in Raleigh. Browning lasted just an inning while surrendering four earned runs. The Jessup, GA hurler was FSU’s most dominant starter for the first half of the 2005 season. In the first nine starts of his career, Browning never allowed more than three runs and in five of those starts he surrendered either one or no runs. He was second on the team with 15 starting assignments and posted a 4-4 record on the season. Browning led FSU with 74 strikeouts including 31 batters struck out looking and he was tied for second on the team in innings pitched with 89.0. Last season Browning led all FSU starters in strikeouts per nine innings and his 89 innings of work were the second-most on the team. Despite moving to the bullpen late in the year, Browning was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 2005 MLB Draft. It was the third time he has been drafted by the majors.



    FSU has lost the first game of the season only seven times in 57 years (50-7, .877) and only two of those losses have come in Tallahassee. In 1998 the Seminoles lost to Notre Dame at a neutral site marking the last time FSU lost its season opener. The last time FSU lost a season opener at home was 1981 versus Georgia Southern in a 3-2 loss.  The only other time FSU opened a season at home and lost came March 20, 1958 versus Auburn when the Tigers started FSU’s season by sweeping a doubleheader 4-3, 10-7. Overall in home-openers FSU is 53-4 (.930) with only one loss coming in the last 22 years. That was a 9-3 loss to Stanford to open the home schedule in 2002. Before that, the last time FSU lost the first home game of the year was the ’81 Georgia Southern loss. The other two home-opening losses came at the hands of Auburn in 1958 and 1969.



    In 57 years of FSU baseball the Seminoles have only lost a season opening series on two occasions. The last time the Seminoles lost a season-opening series came in 1981 when Georgia Southern took two of three games from FSU. The only other time the Garnet & Gold lost a series to open the season came in 1958 when Auburn took both games of a two game series. Overall, FSU is 45-2-10 in season opening series (the ties indicate a series split). In home-opening series, FSU has won 49 of 52 series. The only losses were to Auburn in ’58, Georgia Southern in ’81 and the last series loss came just three years ago when Stanford came to town and took two of three from FSU. 



    There is little question that the 2006 Seminoles have one of the deepest pitching staffs Tallahassee has seen in quite some time. Four of the five pitchers that started double digit games for the FSU in 2005 are back this season. Bryan Henry (11), Barret Browning (15), Michael Hyde (17) and Mark Sauls (14) combined to start 57 of Florida State‘s 73 games last season. The only pitcher with double starts who is not back is Hunter Jones who started 12 games. Not only are FSU’s top pitcher for starts back, but 2005’s ERA leaders are back as well in 2006. Four of FSU’s five leaders for ERA from last season are back this year. While ERA leader Kevin Lynch (2.03) graduated and moved on to pro ball, Tyler Chambliss (2.06), Henry (2.22), Matt DiBlasi (2.76) and Browning (3.54) are all back this year and three of the four ERA leaders from 2005 are in the starting rotation this season. Florida State‘s returning starters didn’t only pitch a lot and have the top ERA’s on the squad, they won games. FSU’s returning starters combined to go 27-11 last season for a winning percentage over 70%. Only four of those 11 losses came in out of conference play and only two came in non-conference regular season games (the other two were suffered in the Super Regional at Florida).



    Coming into 2005, center fielder Shane Robinson wasn’t a pre-season All-American and not a candidate for a single major award. Collegiate Baseball’s reigning National Player of the Year proved a lot of people wrong as he not only was a consensus first team All-American but a semi-finalist for every major player of the year award in the sport. This season Robinson will attempt to become just the first player in FSU’s illustrious history to win back-to-back National Player of the Year honors. He will also attempt to become the first Seminole to be named a back-to-back first team All-American since J.D. Drew did it in 1996 and 1997. Since 1960 when more than one organization started awarding All-American honors, Drew is the only FSU player to ever be named a consensus first team All-American in consecutive years. When it comes to meeting J.D. Drew’s accomplishments, many of the preseason publications are now betting Robinson will do it. The junior enters 2006 as a consensus pre-season first team All-American and the pre-season National Player of the Year according to Collegiate Baseball.



    Shane Robinson isn’t the only Seminole that has received pre-season honors heading into the 2006 season. Junior Tyler Chambliss is receiving his fair share of accolades as well. Chambliss is a member of the Roger Clemens Award Watch List, Brooks Wallace Award Watch List, was named a pre-season NCBWA second team All-American and a Louisville Slugger pre-season third team All- American. Shane Robinson was named All-ACC by Baseball America and freshman shortstop Buster Posey was predicted to be the ACC’s Freshman of the Year by the magazine. Posey was also rated the seventh-best freshman in America coming into 2006 by Baseball America. Robinson collected a bunch of honors from Baseball America in their “best tools” in the ACC section. Robinson was named the player with the best strike zone discipline, the fastest runner and the best defensive outfielder. Tyler Chambliss was cited for having the best breaking ball in the conference.



    The 2006 Seminoles were tabbed to finish fourth in the ACC Preseason Coaches Poll. Florida State was predicted to trail No. 2 Clemson, No. 10 Georgia Tech and No. 7 North Carolina, in that order. This is the second straight season that FSU was picked to finish fourth. Last season they were pegged to finish behind Miami, UNC and Georgia Tech. The ACC coaches accurately predicted the top four regular season finishers last season but not in the right order. Georgia Tech won the regular season and ACC Tournament titles but it was Virginia, joining Clemson and FSU, in the tournament’s final four and not the Canes.



    The 2006 edition of Seminole baseball is once again a young team with 24 of the squad’s 36 players either freshman or sophomores or in their first season as a Seminole. Only five players are seniors but unlike the 2005 squad which was the youngest in Mike Martin’s career, this team is experienced. The junior class alone is 13 players strong and this group has combined to appear in 534 games at FSU. That’s an average of more than 41 games per player. Four starters who each started 70+ games defensively return in third baseman Ryne Malone, center fielder Shane Robinson, right fielder Jack Rye and second baseman Tony Thomas, Jr. Also, for the just the second time since 1999, the Seminoles return two All-Americans in Tyler Chambliss and Robinson. FSU also has a junior in Danny Diaz behind the plate and despite making just a handful of starts in his career, he has been in the program for three years now. The only position in the field where FSU will have inexperience is at short where true freshman Buster Posey will start and he is only being predicted to be named ACC Freshman of the Year.



    Head coach Mike Martin is in the midst of another countdown. The legendary head coach learned he will be inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Hall of Fame in January of 2007. But he will have achieved another big milestone long before then though. With nine more wins Martin will notch his 1,400th victory making him just the eighth coach in the history of college baseball to reach that milestone. Martin is already has the second-highest winning percentage by an active coach in DI baseball. When he hits the 1,400 win plateau, Martin will be just the third coach in DI baseball history to have 1,400+ wins with a winning percentage above .700.



    This Sunday will be the fourth time in Seminole baseball history that FSU has played a game on the same day as the Super Bowl. Florida State is 3-0 when sharing a game day with the NFL’s biggest game of the year. Last season FSU downed VMI 15-0 mere hours before the Patriots beat the Eagles 24-21. In 2000, FSU beat Western Kentucky 6-1 before players got to go home and watch the Rams squeeze out a 23-16 win over Tennessee. In 1999, FSU downed UNC-Ashville 11-3 preceding Denver‘s 34-19 win over Atlanta. There is good news for fans of good Super Bowls. The average margin of victories in Super Bowls is more than 16 points but when Seminole baseball plays on the same day as the big game, that margin of victory drops to less than eight per game.



    All fans attending Saturday’s FSU/Charleston Southern game will receive a free FSU baseball schedule magnet.

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