April 13, 2006 - by
WEEKLY RELEASE: Second-Ranked FSU Set For Showdown With No. 14 Miami

April 13, 2006

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Florida State holds a 130-108-4 advantage over the University of Miami in a series that dates back to 1951. The 130 wins are the most against any opponent for the Seminoles and UM is one of three teams the Seminoles have defeated over 100 times (Florida 111, Jacksonville, 108). Florida State is 69-49-2 when playing the Canes in Tallahassee. As ACC rivals, Florida State is currently 1-2 against UM. The last time the two teams met in Tallahassee was April 9-11 of 2004, with Miami taking two of three.  Florida State won the last game between the two schools but has lost six of eight since April 10, 2004. Prior to that run FSU was 9-1-1 versus the Canes. FSU has lost three straight three-game series to UM. The last time that happened was in the 2000 and 2001 seasons but in between those three series defeats FSU took two of three from UM in the 2000 Super Regional to go to the College World Series. The Seminoles have only lost four straight series to the Canes twice (1980-1981 and 1996-1997) in the 242 meetings. On both of those occasions Miami won its fourth straight series in Tallahassee. Florida State has thrown 14 shutouts versus Miami, most recently a 12-0 victory on April 27th, 2003. UM has shutout FSU six times most recently on April 16, 2004 in Coral Gables.

Bryan Henry’s meteoric rise from third baseman to part time pitcher to All-ACC first team selection will come full circle when he takes the hill Friday night. Last season Henry had a huge mid-week win over Florida but didn’t make a full-time move into the starting rotation until the finale of the Miami series. The Seminoles had lost the first two games to UM in Coral Gables before Henry stepped on the mound Sunday and pitched a gem. Henry went eight innings versus the Canes allowing just one run and only four hits without issuing a walk. FSU won that game 13-1 and Henry has taken the hill to open every three game series since. Since becoming FSU’s Friday night starter, the Seminoles are 11-2 in three-game series Henry has opened on the mound posting a 33-6 record in those three-game sets. Henry has been the cornerstone of the Seminole rotation over the last two seasons since taking over the lead role. The key to Henry’s success has been control. The junior has a lifetime K:BB ratio of 5:1 and this year that number is better than 6:1. His trademark control has been on display all season and in his last six starts he has 45 strikeouts and just five walks. Henry’s pinpoint accuracy has been somewhat off in his last two starts where he has walked more than one batter in back-to-back games for the first time all season. That has happened just one other time in his FSU career when he walked three batters in back-to-back games versus UNC and NC State. After fanning 60 batters and walking just seven in his first eight starts, Henry has walked five and struck out 13 in his last two outings. While a K:BB ratio of nearly 3:1 is pretty darn good it is not what Henry is used to after posting a ratio of near 9:1 to start the season. One glaring area that proves how in control Henry can be is strikeouts looking where he leads the team with 30, which is just three less than all three of FSU’s other starters combined. The Tallahassee native has been nothing short of dominating. He has an ERA of just 1.74 to go along with his 8-1 record. Teams are hitting just .219 off of him and it is really hard to find a weakness in any area of Henry’s game. Neither lefties nor righties are hitting better than .241 against him. Teams hit just .173 with the bases empty and less than 22% of leadoff hitters reach base when he is on the mound. The only situational stat that is at all concerning with Henry is the .324 opponent batting average with runners on base but no Seminole starter pitches with runners on base per inning of work fewer times than Henry (1.10) so that isn’t a huge concern. It may explain one of the quirks in Henry’s stats though. In 21 career starts Henry has held an opponent scoreless or to runs in just one inning of a game 16 times. In his 143 innings as a starter teams have only been able to score runs in 21 innings (15% of the time). In the five starts a team has scored in multiple innings versus Henry he is 2-3 compared to 14-0 in every other start. Facing Henry at Mike Martin Field is a nightmare for opponents. In two years at home Henry is 10-1 with a 1.85 ERA and he has struck out 72 batters and issued just 15 walks. His only loss came to Clemson in the second game of a doubleheader which he played the entire first game at third base.

Saturday night’s start versus Miami will be one of the biggest of Tyler Chambliss’ career. The junior started at UNC two weeks ago and in a must-win at the ACC Tournament in 2004 but he has never started a game this big in front of his home fans. Last season Chambliss appeared in two games versus UM and although he did not give up an earned run he took the loss in game one. Chambliss was a hard luck loser that day as FSU made a key error as Miami scored five in the eighth to storm back from a 3-0 deficit and win the game. Chambliss pitched in the finale as well as throwing one inning in an FSU blowout win. In 1 2/3 innings of work versus UM in 2005 Chambliss posted a 0.00 ERA and held the Canes to a .143 batting average. He walked three batters, hit a batter, uncorked a wild pitch and fanned two. Chambliss has been just phenomenal as a starter in 2006. He is 8-1 with a 1.99 ERA. He has fanned 69 and walked 26. Teams are hitting just .225 versus the junior and he has pitched seven innings or more in each of his last five starts. The right-handed curveball specialist has been brilliant in ACC play so far with the best stats of any Seminole starter. Chambliss is 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA. He has struck out 43 batters and walked just 13 in conference play. He has allowed just eight earned runs and would be undefeated if not for a two-out meltdown by the FSU defense in game two of the UNC series in Chapel Hill. Conference foes are hitting only .230 against him. One area to watch with Chambliss is wildness. When you have a curveball as good as his sometimes one or two are going to get away from you and that has happened with Chambliss who has two wild pitches and has hit four batters in five ACC starts. While Chambliss isn’t shutting out many teams as of late, teams aren’t scoring much off of him either. After allowing no earned runs in three of his first four starts, Chambliss has allowed a run in seven straight starts. But in his last six starts, no team has scored more than two earned runs off of Chambliss. The Live Oak, FL native has been the victim of his defense more than any other Seminole pitcher. Nine of his 24 runs allowed have been unearned, which is three more than FSU’s other three starters combined. While Chambliss has allowed 56 hits, he leads all FSU starters with the fewest extra base hits surrendered. In 249 at bats he has given up just nine that went for extra bases.

Barret Browning will start the series finale as he has solidified his role as the Sunday starter. Browning has earned the job for good reason as the Seminoles are 8-0 on Sunday and he has been the starter in five of those games. After a dominating start to the 2005 season, Browning fell out of the rotation in the second half of the year but he has shown that he has regained the form that made him FSU’s best starter at the beginning of last season. The left-hander is 6-0 in nine appearances with a 4.20 ERA this season. He has allowed two earned runs or less in six starts and has not walked more batters than he fanned in a single game so far this season. Browning will start versus the Canes for the second time in his career Sunday. Last season he took the loss in the second game of the series. The Jessup, GA native went six innings that day and allowed five runs, four of which were earned. He struck out five, walked four, hit two batters and held UM to a .238 batting average. The key for Browning will be keeping runners off base where he has struggled this season. Opponents hit .372 off him with the bases empty and they reach base almost 40% of the time to leadoff an inning. One other area of concern with Browning is an opponent batting average of .317, which is the second-highest on the team. In ACC play Browning is 1-0 with a 5.59 ERA. He is struggling to get left-handers out in conference games. The senior is allowing lefties to hit almost .200 points higher than right-handers. He is also struggling to start innings with 40% of leadoff hitters reaching base in conference play as well. On the other hand, once he puts them on he is doing a good job of not allowing the runners to come around as opponent’s hit only .278 off of him with runners on base. That is the second-best number among FSU’s four starters. If Browning is able to get through the first three innings, he dominates ACC teams. In innings 1-3, Browning has an ERA of 4.00 but in the innings 4-6 he has allowed just one earned run and posted an ERA of 0.68.

For the 240th time, but the first time as ACC opponents, Florida State and Miami faced off in Coral Gables last year.  Miami took the first two games by scores of 5-3 and 5-2, respectively, but Florida State left Miami with a 13-1 win in the final game.  In game one, Florida State took a 3-0 lead into the eighth inning, but miscues led to their downfall. After Brian Chambers put two runners on, Tyler Chambliss loaded the bases, and it all went downhill from there. The first run came in on a fielder’s choice and then a two-out single tied the game up 3-3. A wild pitch by Chambliss moved the runners into scoring position and a two-base error by Ryne Jernigan led to the final score. Florida State tried to rally in the ninth inning, putting two men on base, but were unable to capitalize. For the Seminoles, Danny Wardell went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI and Josh Spivey went 2-for-3 as well.

In game two, Miami took a 3-1 lead into the sixth inning when Danny Wardell hit a solo shot to close the gap to one run. In the seventh inning Barret Browning, who up to that point had thrown six innings with five strikeouts, walked the first two batters. After an infield single, Kevin Lynch came on the mound for the Seminoles. He had not allowed a run in his seven previous outings. A tailor-made double play ball was hit, which allowed one run to score and then a second scored after Tony Thomas Jr.’s throw on the attempted DP went into the Miami dugout, giving the Hurricanes a 5-2 lead. The Seminoles once again tried to rally in the ninth, putting Ryne Jernigan on via an error and getting Jack Rye on with a walk, but would get no closer.

In the series finale, Florida State snapped their six game ACC-losing streak by handing the Hurricanes their worst home defeat with a 13-1 victory. Bryan Henry led the Seminoles throwing eight innings, scattering four hits, giving up only one run and striking out four. The offensive attack was led by Shane Robinson, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a triple. Danny Wardell hit his fifth home run of the season, and his first career grand slam, as he went 2-for-4 with four RBIs. Ryne Jernigan also hit a home run for the Seminoles, who took a 2-0 lead in the first and never looked back. The last time Miami lost by 12 to the Seminoles was April 17th, 1957, in a 15-3 FSU win. 

Shane Robinson led the team with a .500 batting average, going 6-for-12 while leading FSU with two doubles and a triple. Tony Thomas Jr. batted .300 and Josh Spivey hit .286 for the Seminoles.  Despite taking a loss, Barrett Browning threw six strong innings, giving up five hits, five runs (four earned) and striking out five for Florida State. Mark Sauls, Tyler Chambliss, Matt DiBlasi and Michael Hyde combined to throw 6.1 innings, gave up six hits, two runs (none earned) and four strikeouts over the weekend.  Bryan Henry threw eight strong innings, scattering four hits and striking out four while giving up only one run in the Seminoles 13-1 series finale victory. 

Score early and often –   Last season, through the first three innings, Florida State outscored Miami 7-3, and in the fifth and six innings, outscored Miami 7-0. Overall, Florida State outscored Miami 18-11, despite losing two games.

Get the leadoff man on base – Florida State was 10-for-27 (.370) when leading off an inning. Shane Robinson was a perfect 5-for-5 (1.000) and Tony Thomas Jr. was 2-for-3 (.667) for the Seminoles.

Bring the runner home – With a runner on third and less than two outs, Florida State almost always scored the run, going 6-for-9 (.667). Jack Rye was one of three Seminoles perfect in that situation, going 2-for-2 (1.000).

Advance the runner – Florida State advanced runners successfully 46% of the time last year. Jack Rye led the Seminoles, going 4-for-5 (.800) in those opportunities. Ryne Malone also came through, as he was 5-for-8 (.625). Overall, six Seminoles were over .500 in opportunities to move the runner up.

This is the 55th year that Florida State and Miami have battled it out. The series began on March 23, 1951, when the teams split a two game series. Florida State would then go on to claim early dominance, winning sixteen of the first twenty showdowns with their southern counterparts. The Seminoles had a twelve game winning streak from 1966-1971, their longest of the series.  After the streak was snapped, the two teams would battle back and forth, with no team gaining a true upper hand. Florida State had a seven game winning streak in 1990-1991, but Miami followed back with their longest winning streak of the series, a six game winning spurt from 1991-1992.  Miami would go on to match that streak in 1999. Throughout the fifty-five years of the rivalry, Florida State has swept a series four times, with three of those sweeps coming at Dick Howser Stadium. Miami has swept a three-game series from FSU seven times with three of those sweeps coming in Tallahassee. Neither team has successfully swept their opponent since Florida State took three in Miami April 12-14th, 2002. 

While beating one of your two big in-state rivals is sweet, it’s beating both teams that is even sweeter. Since 1990, Florida State has won the season series against both the University of Florida and the University of Miami seven times (1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 2002, 2002, 2003).  By comparison, Miami and Florida have only taken season series from their in-state rivals in the same season once each (Florida 1996, Miami 2001). Combined, Florida State has a 241-199-5 (.542) record against their two big rivals, which is the highest among the three schools. Miami holds a .504 winning percentage (226-217-5), while Florida is 176-227-2 (.434).    

The 2006 spring semester is winding down. With finals just over a week away, the FSU baseball players are gearing up for their tests in the classroom but this is also going to be test time on the field. FSU will play seven straight games versus teams than have a combined winning percentage of .664 in No. 14 Miami, Florida and No. 10 Georgia Tech.  The Seminoles have played just one three-game series versus a ranked team so far in 2006 (North Carolina) and now they will face a ranked team in back-to-back weekend series. FSU is 2-2 versus ranked teams this year with one win versus UNC and a win over then-No. 5 Florida. Coming into this weekend FSU’s opponent’s had a combined record of 560-506 for a .523 winning percentage which ranks 71st in the nation. Right now Florida State has played 15 different opponents and eight have a winning record but starting Friday with Miami every team left on FSU’s schedule is above .500 and four of the seven are ranked.

You won’t hear anybody in Garnet and Gold complaining about getting to face a team as good as Miami at home rather than in Mark Light Stadium but the 2006 season does bring an end to a great baseball tradition in the state of Florida. For the first time since 1978 the Seminoles will not play a regular season game in Coral Gables and unless FSU gets sent to Miami for NCAA Tournament play it will mark the first time in 37 years dating back to 1968 FSU doesn’t play a single game in Coral Gables. This will be the first season in Mike Martin’s career in which he has not coached a game versus the Hurricanes in their home park. The longest streak of games played at an opponent’s park now belongs to Florida where FSU has played every year dating back to 1975 followed by Jacksonville which dates back to 1993.

While FSU spent some time atop the polls earlier this year, the Seminoles will enter this weekend’s showdown with Miami ranked anywhere from No. 2 to No. 4 but there is still one area in which FSU can stake a claim to being No. 1. The Seminoles will enter this weekend’s series with the best record in the nation at 32-4 with a .889 winning percentage. In the most recent NCAA stats FSU and Old Dominion were tied for first in the NCAA for best record. In mid-week action ODU lost to Maryland and the Seminoles beat JU giving FSU sole possession of first when it comes to overall record. FSU and ODU are the only schools in America that will enter this weekend with 30 wins.

FSU’s 10-1 win over Jacksonville Wednesday night was a welcome sight for the Seminole coaches. Not just because FSU beat the Dolphins by its largest margin of the season but there were a couple key areas in which Florida State looked like the team that won 17 straight games earlier this season. After setting season highs for strikeouts in back-to-back weekend series versus UNC (25) and Boston College (30), FSU fanned just three times Wednesday night. While JU’s mid-week pitching is not as good as their weekend rotation or at the level of BC’s or UNC’s weekend arms, the fact FSU struck out 15 times in the first two meetings combined with JU, last night was a big improvement. Strikeouts had become a concern as of late for Florida State. In the first 26 games of 2006, FSU had never recorded double digit K’s in a game and had struck out nine times on three occasions. In the last nine games coming into JU Wednesday, FSU had double digit K’s twice and had struck out nine or more times in five of those nine games. With the strikeouts increasing, FSU saw its run production decreasing. After scoring 10 or more runs 12 times in the first 28 games, FSU went seven straight games without double digit runs before the 10-1 win Wednesday. At one point in the year FSU had recorded double digit hits in 17 of 19 games but that has only happened three times in the last eight outings but Wednesday night’s 11-hit performance will be a confidence booster for the Seminole bats. They needed it as well. Since reaching a season high team batting average of .335 after the Mercer game March 7, FSU has hit .297 in its last 20 games. FSU has still averaged almost 7.5 runs per game in those 20 contests but that number is down from an average of 9.8 runs per game in the first 16 games of the season.

Nobody around Tallahassee is at all shocked Shane Robinson is back after another milestone. The reigning Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year is back to his old ways in 2006. The consensus first team All-American is in the midst of a 23-game hit streak, the longest by a Seminole in 2006. Last year Robinson made national news when he posted a 40-game hit streak, with 35 of those games coming in one season. With his current 23-game run, Robinson now has the two longest single season hit streaks since 2001. If Robinson records a hit in the next two games and runs this current streak to 25, he will have the two longest hit streaks since 2000 when Chris Smith put together a 25-game hit streak. During this 23 game run Robinson is slugging .555 with seven doubles, three triples and three homeruns.

Shane Robinson’s 23 game hit streak is just another testament to how good the reigning National Player of the Year really is but there is another guy on a streak that is pretty impressive as well. Freshman Buster Posey is in the midst of a career-best double digit hit streak as well as he has now hit safely in 10 straight games. While not half as long as Robinson’s streak, it has been every bit as productive. During his streak Posey has raised his average 13 points and he is hitting .381 and slugging .643, both of which lead the team over that stretch. Posey’s freshman year has really been remarkable at the plate. In 36 games Posey has only been held without a hit six times and he has a hit in 22 of his last 24 games. In 37 fewer games, Posey is just 10 hits away from equaling the number of hits recorded by short stops Ryne Jernigan and Nick Francis combined all of last year and already just two RBIs shy of their total. Posey is just 12 runs short of their combined season total, he already has more doubles and triples and is half way to their homer total as well. He is also just four walks away from equaling the total base on balls of last year’s short stops. While his 16 errors are higher than he would like, Posey has still committed two fewer miscues than Francis and Jernigan did in the first 36 games of 2005.


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