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Click here to read Drew's latest report on the Florida State baseball Seminoles, who have won 11 straight and are off to their best start since the 1986 team opened 14-1.

The Seminole baseball team picked up three wins from Charleston Southern over the weekend, but the Buccaneers put a couple of scares into the Noles before it was all said and done.

Pitcher Robert Swindle made the Noles look silly for 7.2 innings in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader, striking out nine batters before finally tiring in the eighth inning. In game two, CSU jumped out to a 3-0 lead and held on until FSU was finally able to take the lead in the sixth. Charleston Southern definitely proved to be a notch above the previous week's opponents, but we knew that coming in, as they had a win over nationally ranked South Carolina this season, as well as an eleventh inning loss to Florida.


Sophomore shortstop Stephen Drew is having a rough time at the plate.
I really hate to bring this up, but the thought occurred to me today while watching the doubleheader against Charleston Southern - what if Stephen Drew isn't just in a slump? What if he's simply not going to have a season like he did last year? I know it's early and I may be jumping to conclusions, but I don't see the 'hit anything' kind of attitude from Drew yet this season, and I certainly don't see fear from the opposing pitchers. He's currently batting .278 against truly mediocre-to-bad competition. Remember, he missed two of the three Stanford games with the flu and in the one game he did play against the Cardinal, Drew went 1-5 with a single. His average is second to last among everyday starters, with only Matt Sauls behind him at .239.

Picking up some of the slack has been this year's freshman phenom - Eddy Martinez-Esteve. Eddy's glove is improving on a weekly basis, and his bat is most definitely coming around.



Freshman Eddy Martinez-Esteve is starting to look comfortable at third base.
His arm has never been an issue, but Eddy's range has looked a bit suspect thus far this year at thirdbase, a position he only played during his junior year in high school. He's starting to really look comfortable at third base, and if he continues to improve, Eddy ought to be one of the greats by the time he leaves Florida State after 2004. Yep, that's right - Eddy will be draft eligible for the 2004 amateur baseball draft following his sophomore season, much like David Yocum and MattE Diaz were, and he's already made statements alluding that he has no plans to be at FSU after that. Things change, and anything can happen though - but let's just enjoy him while he's here.

The pitching rotation for the Siena series has mostly been decided. Hunter Jones will make his first career start on Tuesday, Matt Sauls will get a chance to bounce back from Sunday's one-inning performance on Wednesday, and Thursday starter has yet to be named. With Sauls going against Siena, Sunday's start in Gainesville against the Florida Gators goes to Eddie Cannon who has shown some impressive control in two long relief outings this season so far. Against Stanford, Cannon threw 3.2 innings and only gave up one run to the Cardinal while striking out five batters. Against Charleston Southern on Sunday, he went 6.0 innings and gave up only three hits and an unearned run without walking a batter while striking out nine, including five in a row at one point. Cannon has certainly earned this shot at the weekend rotation.


Junior pitcher LaMacchia may return following the UF series.
Speaking of pitchers, there's still no word about Marc LaMacchia. The coaches expect to have results from his latest MRI sometime this week. If everything checks out, and his arm starts to feel better, I wouldn't be surprised to see him given a weekday start against Saint Joseph's next week before working him back into the weekend rotation.

Florida State was ranked #1 in the country in two of the three college baseball polls last week (Collegiate Baseball and Sports Weekly/ESPN Coach's Poll). Don't be surprised if that changes on Monday, even though the Noles have won eleven games in a row. Arizona State improved to an amazing 24-1 with a sweep over Penn State over the weekend. I don't care what kind of teams the Sun Devils are playing, 24-1 is mighty impressive.

A look ahead at a few teams on FSU's schedule shows that the Gators have won eight straight ballgames, although they did have a close 13-12 fourteen inning game against South Florida last week. UF currently has an 11-1 record, and is hitting an astounding .379 for the season with a team ERA of 4.10.

Miami's baseball program took a few hits this week with the NCAA coming down fairly hard on the Hurricane program for a litany of violations ranging from financial aid infractions, practice restrictions, lack of institutional monitoring, and a failure to follow limitations imposed by the NCAA because of previous violations in 1995. While all of that may sound like a big deal, the sanctions imposed by the NCAA weren't nearly as harsh as the could have been, given the fact that Miami was still under the ‘repeat-offender' umbrella dating back to 1995.

The Canes got off with a penalty of 4.66 scholarships over a period of three years which means rather than the 11.7 a college team is allowed to have, Miami will have to make do with roughly 10 scholarships. The Hurricanes also have a slightly reduced recruiting budget and have been placed on probation for the next two years. The biggest loss for Miami came just after the NCAA's sanctions were announced - longtime pitching coach Lazaro Collazo resigned from his coaching duties. This leaves the Hurricanes in the tough position of trying to find a quality pitching coach in mid-season, not an easy thing to do - and something fairly unheard of in the college ranks.

A quick note to those folks planning to attend the FSU/North Carolina State games on the 21st-23rd of March - Due to delays in stadium renovation because of severe weather, that series has been moved to Grainger Stadium in Kinston, NC. Grainger Stadium is the home of the Kinston Indians, a Class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.

As everyone heard last week, Watkins Engineers and Constructors, the company in charge of the construction and renovation of Howser Stadium, filed Chapter 11. While there's certainly going to be some delays in the future, it shouldn't have too big of a long-term impact. The main short-term impact it's going to have is that the left-field bleacher won't be erected until later in the season. FSU administration was hoping to have them up for the Florida series next weekend, but now it's looking more like the end of March, possibly before the North Carolina series. Without the additional 800 or so seats, FSU has now declared the UF games on Friday and Saturday a sell-out.


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