Play Ball

<b>Florida State</b> opens the 2004 season on Saturday against VMI at Dick Howser Stadium. The Seminole, ranked No. 18 in the preseason Baseball Weekly/USA Today Coaches Poll, must replace all three starters in the weekend rotation along with their closer, two outfielders, two infielders and a catcher.

Back for his junior season is shortstop Stephen Drew, who is regarded as the top player nationally at his position and is listed as a player of the year candidate.

Sophomore Eddy Martinez-Esteve, who led last year's team with a .371 batting average, has moved from third base to right field and was named a preseason second team All-American by Baseball America.

Florida State will have numerous alumni back for Saturday's opener and the re-dedication of Dick Howser Stadium. Included in that group are FSU's three Golden Spikes winners - Mike Fuentes, Mike Loynd and J.D. Drew.

Pitching Rotation

RHP Hunter Jones, RHP Eddie Cannon and RHP Mark Sauls.

Virginia Military Institute

VMI returns 17 lettermen, including seven starters, from a 2003 team that finished 24-28 overall and 16-14 in the Southern Conference. The winning conference record was the first for the Keydets since 1969. Right-hander Duke Acors (6-5, 3.78 ERA) is the top returning pitcher and will start Saturday.

Pitching Rotation

RHP Duke Acors, RHP J.J. Hollenbeck, RHP Jimmy Thoms.

Series Information

Florida State leads the all-time series with VMI by a 9-0 margin, including a three-game sweep in St. Petersburg last season by scores of 12-4, 5-1 and 10-3.

Release supplied by FSU sports information department.

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