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While we're all still elated over the Stanford games, there is certainly great room for improvement. Obviously, priority one for the Florida State Seminoles is to get healthy as they prepare for their home-opening series this weekend. Click here for Drew's latest report, including an update on Dick Howser Stadium.

I admit it; I'm still on a high from taking two out of three games from Stanford this past weekend. As I said in Friday's game story, I don't know what it is when FSU plays the Cardinal, but both teams just tend to put that extra effort into the game and we usually get something special to remember out of it.

This past weekend was no different with two contests going extra innings and all three games were decided by a total of four runs. Stanford took Friday's game 2-1 in the eleventh inning, Florida State had to hold on for a 4-3 win on Saturday, and of course the 10-8 twelve inning affair on Sunday just added to the wild history of this series. A series which will continue next season back at Howser Stadium. We can only hope for three games as exciting as this past weekend - or we can hope for blowouts by the Noles, either one works for me.


Junior outfielder Tony McQuade.
While we're all still elated over the Stanford games, there is certainly great room for improvement. Obviously priority one for the team is to get healthy. The flu bug is still making it's way through the team, and Stephen Drew's apparent food poisoning will hopefully be long gone by Friday.

Right fielder Blake Balkcom is still out for two more weeks with a quadricep injury. The staff doesn't want to rush Balkcom back and hopes he'll be ready in time for the Florida series. Marc LaMacchia's status is of great concern after he had to leave Friday's game with soreness in his elbow. While it's not believed to be serious, Marc will be re-evaluated this week in Tallahassee. I wouldn't count on him starting this weekend against Evansville either way though. Expect the weekend rotation to be Matt Lynch, Mark Sauls, and Trent Peterson.

The infield defense is still a bit shaky, especially at third base. Eddie Martinez-Esteve made a key error in Sunday's game against Stanford that cost the Seminoles a run and misplayed several others that went for infield singles. Eddie's young and very raw and is going to go through some growing pains before developing into a good third baseman. He's a freshman and most definitely plays like one.

Bryan Zech actually did a fairly good job filling for Drew at shortstop in Saturday and Sunday's games. Zech made one error but did the smart thing by keeping the ball in front of him. If the ball had gotten by or he had thrown it away, the game may have ended very differently.


Senior pitcher Daniel Hodges.
FSU's bats are another big concern. Through six games this season, the Seminoles are hitting a paltry .240 which is around eight-five points less than they should be. They did show signs of picking up in Sunday's contest however, with Tony Richie and Jerrod Brown both collecting three hits a piece. Richie, Chris Hart, and Tony McQuade all homered against the Cardinal so maybe the bats are slowing warming up. Aaron Cheesman, who has never been known for a hot bat, picked up a couple of hits and three RBIs in Sunday's win in a rare start behind the plate while Richie was the designated hitter.

Florida State's pitching staff is obviously the strong point of the team right now. With a team ERA of 2.41, the Noles have had success from nearly everyone on the staff so far. Judging by the way Coach Martin used the pitchers against Stanford, I'd say he studied up on situational pitching moves during the offseason and it's paid off so far. We might be in for some extra long games this season because of all the pitching changes, when Martin uses a particular style of pitcher to face a certain batter before pulling him for someone else. It seems like more of a Major League Baseball style of pitcher-management. That's the beauty of a pitching staff as deep as FSU's is.

Matt Lynch was back in old form on Saturday against Stanford but performances by Eddie Cannon on Friday and Daniel Hodges on Saturday and Sunday can't be overlooked. Cannon came in for the injured LaMacchia in the fourth inning and kept the Cardinal scoreless for 3.2 innings while Hodges picked up his second save of the year on Saturday, and won Sunday's game with 4 innings of scoreless ball.

Stadium Renovation Update


Newly renovated Howser stadium is taking shape.
I had a chance to wander around the Howser construction area on Saturday and view the progress on the renovation. There's no doubt now that there will be games played in Tallahassee next weekend as the construction crews have worked overtime to make sure it will be fan accessible. The new stairs on the firstbase side are completely in, and the ones on the third base side should be completed by Friday. What I did not see, was a handicapped ramp but I've been assured that there will be one in place by Friday as well. The new grandstand net is installed and it's just about as unobtrusive as we were told it would be. They've still got a few more seats to put in on the bottom row of the grandstand, but nothing that can't be done in a day or two.

It's not going to be pretty by any means, but what we all have to remember is that it was never supposed to be done by this season. We're all going to be witness to a grand sculpture being created around us; it's just going to take some patience and understanding to get through the season.


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