Around The Horn

Florida State middle reliever <b>Rhett James</b> joked he could have thrown nine innings on Sunday -- and been available to throw again on Monday, if need be. James has helped solidfy the Seminoles' pitching staff as it enters a home weekend series against University of North Carolina-Asheville.

Florida State coach Mike Martin is not the least bit concerned with personal milestones.

Sure, Martin recorded his 1,300th career victory on Sunday as the Seminoles completed a three-game sweep over Oral Roberts, winning 4-3 on Matt Sauls' game-clinching hit with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Martin, however, is preoccupied with his team's progress.

The Seminoles improved to 7-3 overall, 6-0 at home and enter the weekend agaisnt UNC-Asheville on a modest five-game winning streak.

FSU travels to Minnesota March 5-7 for a three-game set against Nebraska, West Virginia and Minnesota.

"The key is to play and improve," Martin said.

We learned a lot at Arizona State, playing Jacksonville, a regional team, (Oral Roberts), of course was a regional team.

"We then go up to Minnesota and play Nebraska and Minnesota and both of them were in regional last year. And don't forget we have to come back and get in this conference, there's a whole bunch of regional teams in this conference."

FSU will continue to tinker before league play starts with a three-game home set against Maryland on March 19.

Middle reliever Rhett James earned his second win of the season after working the final 3.2 innings on Sunday against Oral Roberts. He has been a workhorse who has helped solidy the Seminoles' young staff.

James only allowed one run on four hits with two strikeouts and no walks after throwing in Friday's opening-victory as well. FSU starter Mark Sauls had an impressive outing as well, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits in 5.1 innings. Sauls struck out five and did not walk a batter.

"The starters are doing all the work," the humble James said. "I felt good. I told coach Shouppe I could have thrown nine innings and been ready on Monday, too."

James currently boasts a 3.21 earned-run average in 14 innings of work with 13 strike outs and one walk. Eddie Cannon has been perfect thus far at 3-0 in 19.2 innings, while Hunter Jones has tossed a team-high 21 innings.

The Seminoles' freshman pitchers will be looked to provide quality innings as the season progresses, though they have found the going difficult thus far. But that's not a surprise at this level.

Left-hander Brian Schultz, from Lake Gibson High in Lakeland, has been the most effective. Schutlz (1.29 ERA) has made five appearances with 12 strike outs and three walks in seven innings.

Offensively, the Seminoles feature six players above .300, paced by Gibbs Champman's team-high .450 average. Derrick Smith (.379), who has a team-best 13 RBI, Bryan Zech (.333), freshman Ryne Malone (.333), Stephen Drew (.324) and Eddie Martinez-Esteve (.308) round out FSU's top batters.

Of the Seminoles' 93 hits, 26 have gone for extra bases. FSU also has outscored opponents 72.54.

Defensively, FSU has committed 17 errors -- Drew has five -- for a .954 fielding percentage.

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