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In recent weeks, I've relayed my worries about this team in my columns. Whether it was the defense, the hitting, or certain relievers not getting enough innings, the series against Wake Forest certainly put some of those fears to rest - at least for now. Click here to read Drew's latest column.

What a great weekend for Florida State Baseball; The Noles denied Kyle Sleeth's bid to break an NCAA record, played three outstanding games, sweeping a ranked opponent and ACC rival, and packed over 11,000 people into Howser Stadium.

What more can a Seminole fan ask for?

In recent weeks, I've relayed my worries about this team in my columns. Whether it was the defense, the hitting, or certain relievers not getting enough innings, the series against Wake Forest certainly put some of those fears to rest - at least for now.


Senior second baseman Chris Hart has been swinging a hot bat of late.
The FSU bats, while not exactly hitting the cover off the ball, got the timely hits against the Demon Deacons. Tony McQuade broke out of his slump, going 6 for 11 with two doubles, a triple, and a homerun. He also scored six runs and had four RBIs, as well as a stolen base, two walks, and was even hit by a pitch in his final at-bat on Sunday, denying him a chance to hit for the cycle.

Tony Richie and Chris Hart also had big series, with Richie going 6 for 13 with two doubles and a home run, racking up seven RBIs, and Hart going 4 for 9 including a big triple in Saturday's game.

Once again, the Seminole pitching was downright dominating for the most part. The big showdown with Wake Forest's Kyle Sleeth was won easily by FSU's own Trent Peterson. Petey earned his sixth win of the season and sports an era that's still under two. Matt Lynch bounced back after a couple of losses with a strong outing on Saturday, and Daniel Davidson earned his fifth win of the season, despite a somewhat lackluster performance on the hill.


Freshman Hunter Jones had a great outing against Wake Forest on Saturday.
Little-used relievers like Kevin Lynch and Matt DiBlasi even got work against Wake. Hunter Jones looked particularly good in Saturday's game with a couple of innings. The only Seminole pitcher who had a rough weekend was Daniel Hodges of all people.

Hog, who hadn't given up a run in 33.2 innings, got knocked around a little in both of the games he pitched in. On Friday, he gave up two runs on four hits to break his scoreless inning streak, and on Sunday, he gave up a two-run homerun to Jamie D'Antona, and then allowed an unearned run to score later in the inning. I think it's way too early to panic though, as no closer is perfect. Hog still has seven saves and an ERA of only 1.19, so it will be interesting to see how he 'bounces back' against Clemson next weekend.

Mark Sauls did not see any action against Wake, but that's because he'll get the start on Wednesday against Jacksonville. This will be Sauls' first start since a rough outing against St. Joseph's back on March 11th.


Senior Daniel Hodges got roughed up a bit against Wake but still sports a 1.19 ERA.
There's been a lot of talk about Florida State's schedule strength this year, and in turn, the RPI rating which ultimately decides where teams get seeded for post-season play. As of March 30, the Seminoles rank 11th in the country in Boyd Nation's Pseudo RPI ratings (www.boydsworld.com) and have a strength of schedule that ranks 96th in the country right now. Clearly, both of those ratings will improve as the competition improves with Wake, Clemson, Miami, and Georgia Tech still to be figured in, but it also shows just how weak FSU's early season schedule was.

Virginia Military Institute, Evansville, Appalachian State, Charleston Southern, Siena, and St. Joseph's all have losing records and are a combined 50-101 (.311) for the season. The need to play the lesser northern teams early in the season is there, but Florida State really needs to work on upgrading the schedule a bit. The loss of the Stanford series will degrade the SOS even more, but FSU picks up Arizona State in 2004, as well as a trip to the Metrodome for a tournament.

The 2005 season will bring on the Auburn Tigers and another trip to Hawaii as well as a home series against the Sun Devils, so it looks like this was just a down year in what is usually one of the toughest schedules in the country.

Looking at some of the better teams on FSU's schedule; Clemson is having an up and down year so far, losing the season opening series with Auburn before going on a 14-game winning streak in March before losing a game to Western Carolina, and then a series to North Carolina State. The Tigers are currently 23-7 and face two warm-up games this week against Furman and South Carolina before rolling into Tallahassee.

Clemson has an extremely young team and is probably a year or two away from competing for the top spot in the ACC again. They're also not a particularly fast team, as they've only stolen 17 bases in 34 attempts this season. Putting that in perspective - FSU has two players who have at least that many steals in Stephen Drew (26) and Tony McQuade (17).

Miami impressed a lot of people by sweeping Georgia Tech two weekends ago in Coral Gables, and promptly lost games last week to Florida Atlantic (5-3) and lowly Oral Roberts (10-1). The Hurricanes have decent bats, but a pitching staff that seems to be struggling after the loss of Lazaro Collazo.

Speaking of the Yellow Jackets, Tech bounced back from their sweep to Miami with a 3-1 week including a win over Winthrop, and a series-win over North Carolina. If nothing else, GT is proving that they are human after all, and can be beaten.

I wanted to say a quick word about the Animals new tradition of singing 'God Save the Queen' in the fifth inning rather than 'O Canada'. We've gotten quite a bit of press about this in the last two weeks, from a mention on Bill O'Reilly's syndicated radio show, to a large photograph in the Tallahassee Democrat on Saturday, to articles in both the Orlando Sentinel and St. Pete Times.


God Save the Queen - New Animal tradition?
Some folks have complained that we ruined a 15-year old tradition because of political reasons. That's not the case at all. The reason the Animals chose to sing ‘God Save the Queen' was because some fans at a Montreal Canadiens game booed 'The Star Spangled Banner' several weeks ago.

We just wanted to make a simple one-game statement that the Animals didn't appreciate that action. Well, we underestimated the crowd and team response to 'God Save the Queen', and now it looks like we're 'stuck' with it for the time being. Will 'O Canada' ever return? I think so; it's just a matter of waiting until the time is right. It might be this season, it might have to wait until next. Whenever it is, I think the maple leaf will eventually make it's return to Howser Stadium.


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