April 18, 2005 - by
WEEKLY RELEASE: No. 9 FSU And No. 4 Florida Meet At Dick Howser Tuesday At 7:00 p.m.

April 18, 2005

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    The last time the teams met Florida ended a streak of four straight losses at Dick Howser Stadium dating back to 2001. The Gators took the opening game of the three-game set 9-2. The win also ended the trend of the home team winning the last seven games played in the series. The rivalry couldn’t be more even as of late with the two teams splitting the last 12 meetings but UF is 4-1 in the last five games between the schools. Preceding the current run where the teams are 6-6, FSU had won six straight games. FSU has the current edge in the series against Florida 108-87-1. The Seminoles also lead 63-35-1 in the games played in Tallahassee. The Seminoles have recorded 14 shutouts in the series to Florida‘s six.  The series dates back to 1956 and the two teams have played at least once every year since.



    TUESDAY NIGHT: Bryan Henry makes the biggest start of his career Tuesday night against the Gators. The Tallahassee native, and son of Tallahassee Democrat sports writer Jim Henry, is well aware of the FSU/UF rivalry. Henry, who is in his first season with Florida State after a stint at North Florida Community College, has started most of the season at third base and wasn’t expected to pitch much in 2005 but after the season-ending injury to Brian Schultz Henry was moved into the bullpen. He started the first game of his pitching career in a seven-inning doubleheader versus Hawai’i Hilo and allowed just three hits and no runs. He then made four appearances in a relief role and pitched so well he was given a Sunday start versus Clemson. After starting the first game of the doubleheader that day at third base, Henry started game two on the hill and lasted four innings while giving up eight hits and three runs. Since then he has made two very impressive long relief appearances capped off by his three brilliant innings of work in Saturday’s Georgia Tech game where he allowed just one hit. In his last two outings, Henry is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. He has allowed four hits in eight innings and struck out 10 while issuing just two walks. Opponents hit just .143 off him in those two games. Right-handers are just 1-for-10 off the sophomore in that stretch. Part of the reason Henry has been successful in 2005 is that teams are hitting just .219 against him with runners on and .207 with two-outs in an inning. Another big reason for his success is that Henry is averaging just 1.08 walks per game and 7.56 K’s per game.



    When it comes to doubles, this past weekend really had elements of good, bad and ugly. The good continues to be Shane Robinson. The sophomore raised his team-leading doubles total to 20 this season. That is already more doubles in 44 games than he had in all 68 of his starts as a freshman when he registered 18. Last year Eddy Martinez-Esteve led the team with 24 so Robinson is already nearing in on that mark. Tony Richie led the team with 26 in 2003, Tony McQuade led with 26 in 2002 and John-Ford Griffin was the last FSU player to reach 30 and he did that in 2001. The record for doubles in a season is 36 and while Robinson is slightly off a record pace, 30 is well within his reach. That would make Robinson just the third player in FSU history to record 30 doubles in a season.


    THE BAD: In the last six games FSU pitching has surrendered 17 doubles for an average of almost three two-baggers a game. In the 20 game preceding this stretch, the Seminoles did not surrender a double in eight of those 20 games and allowed a total of 18 in that stretch. While FSU has 106 doubles compared to just 53 given up, 32% of those doubles have come in just the last six games, which make up just over 13% of the team’s games played so far.


    THE UGLY:  Junior reliever Matt DiBlasi is in the midst of a great year out of the Seminole bullpen but he had his own problem with doubles in the sixth inning of the final Georgia Tech game Sunday. The left-hander came into the game having surrender just three doubles all season in 20 2/3 innings of work. In just one inning of work versus the Jackets, he gave up more doubles than he had allowed all season (four). It was also the only outing this year (22 appearances) where DiBlasi allowed more than one earned run.



    Despite all the runs scored in the Georgia Tech series (40 total runs between the teams) not everything thrown was hit, it just seemed that way. Florida State pitchers struck out 17 Georgia Tech batters in the 9-8 loss Saturday marking the most batters FSU has K’ed in a nine inning game this year. The only game where FSU pitchers fanned more opposing batters was in a 12-inning affair versus Hawai’i-Hilo when they fanned 18. It was also the most times the Yellow Jackets struck out in any game in 2005. On the other hand, FSU had its fair share of K’s as well. Not only did FSU tie a season-high with 11 strikeouts, they did it in back-to-back games versus Georgia Tech. The season-high was established in the previous game, a win over Jacksonville. That gave FSU three straight games where they set and tied a season-high with 11 K’s. Florida State only had double digit strikeouts three times in the previous 40 games and never in back-to-back games. One of those game was the Hilo 12 inning game so really FSU had double digit K’s in just two, nine inning games all season before this weekend. Over the last four games, FSU has been fanned 42 times. 



    One of the great things about the last two Seminole teams is that have rebounded very well following series sweeps. Earlier this year, FSU was swept by the University of Hawai’i and went on to win its next six games in a row. After a series sweep at the start of 2004 at the hands of Arizona State, the Seminoles took five in a row. The biggest rebound though came after last year’s series sweep by the Yellow Jackets in Tallahassee. After being swept in a home ACC series for the first time ever, FSU won 17 of its next 21 games including back-to-back wins over Georgia Tech to capture the 2004 ACC Championship.



    Left fielder Gibbs Chapman and short stop Ryne Jernigan had Seminole fans worried in the series finale versus Georgia Tech. The two were involved in a violent collision going after a shallow fly ball. Chapman made the catch and got up with a sore shoulder but Jernigan stayed on the ground and required medical attention. The freshman returned to the game and continued to play stellar defense as he went the whole series without making an error. After finding out both players were not injured on the play, Seminole fans next concern was if the two players would be able to continue in the game because they destroyed Tech pitching all weekend. Jernigan and Chapman went a combined 10-for-25 (.400) with five runs scored, a home run and four RBIs. They were first ands second on the team in batting average, were both in the top three in slugging and total bases.



    While Florida State pitchers gave up 24 runs in the three games versus Georgia Tech, they did do a pretty good job against the nation’s third best offense (batting average) coming into the series. FSU pitchers held Tech 67 points below their season batting average in the three-game set. They also limited the Jackets when it came to home runs. Tech came into the series averaging 1.36 home runs per game and FSU dropped that average to just one per game and held Tech without a homer in the game Saturday.



    Looking purely at some of the stats, it is a little surprising that Georgia Tech swept FSU this past weekend. The Yellow Jackets and Seminoles had almost the same number of hits (26-27), walks (13-14), strikeouts (31-30) and steals (1-1). Florida State committed just one error compared to four for the Jackets but the most telling stat is runners left on base. Georgia Tech stranded 18 runners on the weekend while FSU left 30 on base. Tech was much better when it came to getting timely hits and big hits. The Jackets held a 2:1 edge in doubles (10-5) and a 118 point edge in slugging percentage.



    When you look at the numbers in FSU’s last two ACC series, it is quite surprising how similar some of those stats are. Florida State batted identical .241’s versus Wake and Georgia Tech and even weirder is they posted that average in an identical 108 at bats. Obviously the Seminoles recorded the same number of hits (26) in each series and they were just one extra base hit apart with nine versus Wake and eight against Tech. So why did FSU take two of three from Wake Forest and fall in all three games against Tech? You only have to compare staff ERA’s in the two series to get a pretty good answer to that question. FSU’s ERA versus Wake Forest was 3.60 but 8.39 against Tech who came into the series with the third-best team batting average in the nation. Even though FSU pitchers allowed almost an identical number of hits (26-27) and runs (21-24) the earned runs were the biggest difference. Only 12 of the runs allowed by the FSU staff were earned against WFU while 23 of the 24 runs Georgia Tech scored they earned. Another big difference was strikeouts. FSU fanned 19 times against Wake and 31 times versus Georgia Tech. Considering Tech’s staff came into the series ranked seventh in the ACC and Wake’s 10th, FSU coaches have to be concerned with the low averages and high strikeouts in the last two ACC series. 


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