This weekend's performance against the Wolfpack at Grainger Stadium in Kinston wasn't much different than past trips to NC, as the Noles dropped two of three games to the now-15th ranked Pack. FSU had pretty good pitching all weekend long other than a very shaky outing by Rhett James, decent defense, and absolutely no offense whatsoever. The Noles must have left the bats here in Tally, as the same team who is averaging ten runs a game at Howser, scored only seven runs in three games combined over the weekend.
Since ACC play began two weekends ago, the Seminoles have hit only .215 against conference opponents. Four batters are actually hitting under .200 against ACC teams. If Florida State is unable to provide more offense against the teams in the ACC, it's going to be a very long and unpleasant season, and it won't matter how low of a team ERA we have.
Junior pitcher Rhett James needs to bounce back from a couple of rough outings.
Defense wasn't a major problem for the Noles against NC State, however Eddy Martinez-Esteve did pull Jerrod Brown off of firstbase a few times with wild throws. While Drew's bat may have gone cold again (only one hit in his last eighteen at-bats), his defensive is as sharp as ever. One play during the doubleheader found Drew fielding the ball deep in the hole, on the edge of the grass, but still able to make the throw to first to get the runner. As a whole, the Noles are fielding .961 which isn't terrible, but that number really ought to be upwards of .970.
Looking ahead towards future FSU opponents, Georgia Tech, who is fresh off a three-game sweep over Maryland, heads down south next weekend for a series with the Miami Hurricanes. The Canes have quietly amassed a 19-4 record so far, and should provide Tech with their first real test of the season, two mid-week games against Auburn notwithstanding.
Next weekend's Seminole opponent, North Carolina took two out of three games against #13 Wake Forest last weekend, with two routs; 12-5 and 12-3. The Heels are now 16-7 on the season and sport a .336 batting average. The Seminoles are going to have to solve their hitting woes in a hurry to avoid another rough weekend. Facing UNC's starters who all have ERA's above 3.71, shouldn't hurt the Florida State cause.
Marc LaMacchia hopes to be back by the beginning of the 2004 season.
There weren't any big surprises in the polls this week. The Noles check in at 3, 5, and 6. I was expecting the damage to be worse, but other top teams had their own problems. Arizona State followed FSU's lead and doubled their season-loss total to four. Georgia Tech dropped their second game of the season, a 7-5 loss to Auburn in Atlanta.
Marc LaMacchia had his surgery last Tuesday and the news is better than expected. The surgeons found less damage than they had feared, so Marc may not miss quite as much time as first feared. The inside ligament showed some damage, but the outside was fine. With dedicated rehab, Marc ought to be able to soft-toss as soon as October, which means he'll probably see some innings early in the 2004 season.
I visited Howser Stadium on Sunday morning for another construction photo gallery and was surprised to find workers finally building the left-field bleachers. They were just adding the ramps when I left, so I would expect them to be useable as soon as Wednesday's game against The Citadel.
Workers finally installed the third-base bleachers last week.
The concrete framework around the three staircase towers has been put in place, and you even see a tiny bit of brickwork around some areas of the grandstand now. The floor of the new clubhouse has also been poured, and work continues to be done on a handicap ramp for the grandstand.
There has been speculation among fans about whether or not Florida State would even put in a bid to host the NCAA Regionals at the end of May because of all the construction. I'm happy to put those fears to rest, as we've been assured by the administration that the Noles will put in their usual bid to ensure post-season play in Tallahassee.