Florida State came away with a 2-1 series win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill this weekend. We take a look at what we learned below.
Patience at the Plate
The Seminole hitters showed tremendous patience at the plate all series, taking the Carolina pitchers deep into counts and earning their way onto base even when they weren't hitting it especially well. This characteristic of Florida State baseball remains alive and well.
Luke Weaver and Mike Compton
The Seminoles' Friday and Saturday starters each pitched extraordinarily well. Weaver pitched seven scoreless frames in a 7-0 win on Friday evening, ending a bit of a late-season slide for the Seminole ace. Compton pitched as well as he has all season, allowing two runs in 8.0 innings on Saturday.
After the game, Compton talked about his late-season resurgence, crediting his success to throwing with more conviction, trusting his pitches and the defense behind him rather than trying to throw the perfect pitch every time.
Gage Smith Returning to Form
Despite taking the loss, Gage Smith also pitched well in relief during Sunday's game, retiring the first seven batters he faced before Tyler Ramirez hit a two-out, two-strike RBI single to right field in the seventh inning. Smith had located the inside slider just where he had wanted it, but Ramirez did a fine piece of hitting to get it out of the infield and score the decisive run.
Smith talked afterwards about his performance and his improving health, observing that his back feels better than it has in weeks as he rounds into top form for the postseason. It should be noted that his back looked quite healthy as he took three huge swings in his lone trip to the plate.
Sunday starter Dylan Silva had a rough outing, giving up three runs (two earned) in 1.2 innings before giving way to Peter Miller, who likewise struggled, walking three in 1.0 innings of work. Billy Strode was slightly better but also struggled with control, walking two in 1.1 innings before giving way to Smith in the fifth. If Florida State wants to make a deep run in Omaha, it needs at least one more arm to step up—and that's presuming Brandon Liebrandt returns in time to be a factor. If the performance in Chapel Hill is an indicator, FSU may yet again be one arm short.
Florida State had a chance to blow the game open in the first inning on both Saturday and Sunday, and each time a double play ended the inning with no damage. Stranded runners wound up being a theme throughout the weekend, as FSU stranded 13 on Friday, 8 on Saturday, and 5 on Sunday—altogether too many wasted opportunities as the Seminole batters could not get the ball out of the infield with runners in scoring position.
Parts of the series—particularly in Game 3—served as a reminder of how ugly college baseball in its current form can be at times, as both teams traded walks and simply couldn't produce enough power at the plate to create runs with their bats. Florida State scored four runs without a hit in Game 2, and the Seminole staff walked seven batters in Game 3.
One positive about that, however, is the thought that if Mike Martin is ever going to end his almost inexplicable drought in Omaha, this smallball era of college baseball is probably the best opportunity he has or ever will have.