Here are a few observations from the sweep of VMI last weekend in St. Petersburg.
Junior pitcher Marc LaMacchia.
Bryan Zech stood out as a surprise against VMI both in the field and at the plate. The only error Zech made was an easy dropped underhand toss from Stephen Drew but that was countered by a couple of really nice plays including a nifty 4-3 double-play in Friday's game where he slipped while throwing but was still able to make a throw to Jerrod Brown at first who made the tag on the runner. Zech hit .400 for the series but was also hit by two pitches, stole three bases, and scored five runs for FSU.
A few new-comers to the team made an instant impact offensively; Eddie Martinez-Esteve and Blake Balkcom both hit .417 for the series, racking up five hits a piece, with Balkcom's five RBIs leading the team. Another newbie, Derrick Smith, showed that he should be a force at DH this season.
Junior second baseman Bryan Zech.
Matt Lynch only threw one bad pitch during Friday's game, unfortunately it was blasted out of the park VMI catcher Andy Barden. He was obviously upset with himself after that inning but was able to settle down and finish the five that he was scheduled to pitch. Overall, he still pitched well but down the stretch, he may get pushed by LaMacchia to hold on to that Friday night starting spot.
Tony Richie had sort of a mixed-bag series. At the plate, he doubled three times and hit .333 but also had a couple of errors that were very un-Richie like. While he did throw out two runners with ease on Friday night, his throwing error on Saturday sailed way over Brown at first base - a throw he didn't even have to make, as the runner was already out. Sunday's stats show four stolen bases for the Keydets, but that's a little deceiving since Trent Peterson did a pretty lousy job of holding the runners.
Freshman pitcher Mark Sauls.
A lot of people have been asking me about the play on Saturday when Brown scored FSU's first run and Hart took first base. The only answer I have been able to find is that umpire Landon Davis screwed up and the VMI coach didn't catch it.
Here's what happened in case you weren't there or listening: Brown was on third base with Hart at the plate facing a 3-0 count. The pitcher went into his motion and threw the ball only to have Davis call time and call a balk. Brown came home and Hart who had begun to walk to first on the apparent ball four, turned around since there's no pitch once the balk is called. Davis then pointed Hart back to first as if it that last ball did count. It was an odd play and even FSU's Sports Information Director Jeff Purinton didn't know how to score it.
There were plenty of former Seminole baseball players at the games over the weekend. Jon McDonald, Marshall McDougall, Kevin Cash, Mike DiBlasi, J.D. Drew, Brett Groves, and Scott Boyd were just some of the FSU alumni in attendance.
FSU leaves for Stanford today, hopefully with a full compliment of players. I say that because some of the team has been suffering from the flu. Tony McQuade played through it this weekend but Matt Sauls was so sick that the coaches had him stay at the hotel during Sunday's game and had him ride back to Tallahassee with his parents rather than board the bus and infect the rest of the team with whatever bug he's got.
The Noles are going to need everyone against the Cardinal who should be hopping mad after dropping all three-games to Cal-State Fullerton this past weekend. It was the first series sweep for the Cardinal since they dropped three-straight to Arizona State back in 1997, seventy-seven weekend series ago.