Filling In

Shortstop Stephen Drew hasn't been in the Florida State lineup as of late but that hasn't stopped his replacements from putting up All-American numbers and the Seminoles (20-5) from manufacturing double-digit scoring outputs in their last four outings. For the last eight games, head coach Mike Martin has been without the services of Drew, who is suffering from a strained hamstring.

Florida State obviously needs Stephen Drew back in its lineup at shortstop. However, the Seminoles have not missed a beat as Drew continues to recover from a hamstring injury.

Drew is not expected to play when the Seminoles travel to North Carolina this weekend for a key Atlantic Coast Conference series.

FSU coach Mike Martin moved second baseman Bryan Zech back to his high school position at shortstop and freshman Ryne Malone has made an impression filling in at second.

Friday night against Maryland, Malone drilled the first pitch he saw in ACC play over the right field fence for a grand slam.

"I was sitting dead red," he said.

"He gave me a first pitch fastball and I put a good swing on it." The freshman from Gainesville followed the act with another slam on Saturday, this one on a 3-2 fastball. Malone was actually set up for a third slam in as many days in the fourth inning on Sunday but the bases-loaded opportunity evaporated when a wild pitch allowed Zech to score from third.

All told, Malone was 4-for-10 in FSU's weekend sweep of Maryland with 13 RBI. His other two hits were a triple and a double.

"That's what Florida State baseball is all about – being ready to step in and step it up," Malone said. "(Zech) and I made some nice plays up the middle defensively. Offensively, he really lit it up and I did the same."

"He had some great at-bats," added Martin. "I am real proud of the way he has responded to this opportunity."

Zech, who has flourished since moving to the lead-off spot before Drew went down, also feasted on Terrapin pitching over the weekend. Zech was 5-for-13 with seven runs and five RBI over the three-game stretch.

"I like being able to go up there and set the tone for the team," said Zech the only senior on the Florida State roster who has been in Tallahassee four years.

Perhaps more importantly, Zech got it done with the leather. In the past, Zech's glove has been the Achilles' heel that kept his potent bat out of Martin's lineup. Zech was benched in favor of Chris Hart for the first half of last season.

Zech and Malone combined to make just one error in 13 chances over the weekend.

"I've been playing shortstop my entire life," Zech said. "The transition is an easy one."

Florida State will need the duo to keep up the production up heading into a tough stretch in which the Seminoles will face No. 24 North Carolina and N.C. State in back to back weekends. A midweek game against No. 17Florida is also in the mix.

Martin said Drew would be evaluated before Friday's series-opener in Chapel Hill and remained confident of his team's chances should his shortstop not be able to go.

"We have to play with what we've got," he said.


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