Around the Horn

In this first of two parts, FSU assistant baseball coach Mike Martin, Jr., talks about the high-flying Seminoles. Topics include FSU's recent domination of rival Miami, the team's offensive approach and the challenges of finishing the regular-season on the road. "This is when we start... and wev'e been preaching this. This when we really, really improve. We've got to improve. We've got a lot of work to do and this is the time to do it," Martin, Jr., said. Click here for much more.

Opening Comments

"We flat-out stunk it up on Saturday. But the guys showed some character by coming out and playing well on Sunday. Only losing one time to them this year and one time last year, we've got a good thing going. We just need to keep it going. We are in a good phase right now. If you go back and look at the series, it's really almost eeiry how it goes in phases and we are in a good phase right now."

You had some injuries but it didn't slow you. It showed the depth you have and the talent of that depth.

"It was big because 11 (Mike Martin), a credit to him, early in the season getting guys like Danny Wardell, getting him time against Stanford. Getting their feet wet so with the understanding that the situation that happened last weekend (injuries), it's going to happen during the course of a year. If guys have never been out there, you are never going to get very good results. Letting those guys get their feet wet so they are able to step in if somebody gets hurt is crucial for us."

Blake Balkcom has experienced some bad luck this season with injuries.

"The quad has been bothering him... it's still not healthy. Poor guy just can't seem to catch a break. He has both ankles now - he can barely walk. Maybe it's a blessing. By the time those ankles are ready to go, maybe that quad will be 100 percent as well. We just have to keep getting him treatment and see if we can get some blood flowing to those areas and get them healed up. We are definitely not going to rush him back. He's invaluable to us."

You have talked about how great teams see a lot of pitches. Are you happy in that regard?

"We are. There are obviously some guys who are not swinging as well as they are capable of or as they want to. But you have to have an offensive game. So many young hitters if they don't make solid contact they are not going to help your club at all. Taking a hit by pitch, taking a walk, taking a pitcher deep into the count. You have to have an offensive game. And it's not just about how many times you make solid contact. It's about being able to beat them in different ways. We are still progressing. There are some guys who are 50, 60, 70 points below of what they are capable of doing. But we are winning games. We are doing in different ways and that will help you down the road."

Your team speed was evident last weekend.

"You have to have balance. We've had great offensive clubs. We've had great pitching clubs. You go back and look at all the teams that have competed for national championships, you have to have balance. Some days the pitching isn't going to be there, some days the defense is not going to be there. Some days you can't run, like Miami did. They basally said you are not going to run this weekend. Well, we tried to let them know we still would try, which would put the pitchers in a corner. They would throw over, throw over, throw over and lose concentration. And, boom, they lay one in there and somebody pops one. There's different ways of putting pressure on defenses, whether it's by stealing bases or hit and run or taking the extra base... you got to do it. Regardless of how you do it, you've got to put pressure on a defense."

Your bullpen has performed especially well.

"No question. That's probably has been our most valuable asset to this year's club is the depth that we have down there with quality guys who have pitched in big games and are not afraid of any situation. Whether it's coming in and getting a left-hander out or coming in when we are down four runs and giving us four honest innings during a middle game. That's important. You are only as good as your bullpen. That's been around for 100 years. I think that's part of the. ... Miami doesn't have the depth that we have and it has caught up to them in the last three or four weeks. You've got to have it."

Talk about ending the season with three consecutive road trips, not to mention the ACC Tournament. That must be tough.

"Yeah, it is but we will be out of school, which is very good. We can just focus on the task at hand. Exams will be over it. We can start building a lot of camaraderie. We are going to be spending a lot of time with one another and that's good. Everybody has got to be on the same page and we can all focus on our goal - that's to win the national championship. We can get a lot of things done. I've always enjoyed going on the road because we don't have any distractions. Guys don't have anything to do but break down film and get some extra work in. We don't have any time restrictions. This is when we start... and wev'e been preaching this. This when we really, really improve. We've got to improve. We've got a lot of work to do and this is the time to do it. We are on the road. No school to worry about. Generally speaking, there's not a lot of distractions on the road and it will be good for us."


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