View From Section B

The Florida State Seminoles continue to mow down opponents, sweeping Virginia over the weekend in their Atlantic Coast Conference opening series. Click here to read Drew's latest take on the Seminoles, who are on the road next weekend against North Carolina State.

Chalk up five more wins without a loss for the Seminole baseball team. Florida State's home-ACC winning streak was extended to 29 games with a three-game sweep over Virginia this past weekend. I'm not sure if the ACC even keeps records like that, but if they do, the Seminoles have got to be nearing it.

Daniel Davidson in his first start pitched brilliantly during seven innings of work, giving up only three hits with no runs or walks, while striking out five batters.
Of course the eighth inning of Sunday's game put that streak in doubt as Rhett James and Hunter Jones combined to give up four runs that put the Cavaliers up by one with only two innings to go. Eddy Martinez-Esteve did his part in the bottom of that inning to extend the streak with a timely solo homerun that tied the game up. FSU eventually went on to win the game 5-4 in extra frames, but some would say that was due more to Virginia than Florida State, as the winning run scored because of an error.

FSU's 24-2 record is going to put to test this coming weekend with a three games series against North Carolina State in Kinston, NC. While the Noles may have caught a small break by not having to play in Raleigh due to stadium construction at Doak Field, the Wolfpack will be tough as usual, and have now won 13 games in a row. NC State is currently sporting an 18-4 record with a team ERA at very respectable 3.83 and a batting average of .278. Strangely enough, NCSU's home runs and strikeouts equal FSU's, at 24 and 154, respectively.

It should be noted though, that the Pack have played 4 less games than the Noles have. The Seminoles have had mixed results on the road against the Wolfpack in recent years, taking two out of three in 2001, sweeping in 1999, but dropping two out of three in 1997. I never expect a road-ACC sweep against anyone other than Duke or Maryland, so I'll predict FSU will take two of three.

One of the only downsides to the Virginia series was the production from the top of the order. Stephen Drew, Tony McQuade, Tony Richie, and Jerrod Brown were a combined .180 against the Cavaliers over the weekend. That's about half what it needs to be if the Noles are going to compete for a conference championship, let alone a CWS berth. The hitting troubles were no more evident than in the ninth, 10th, and 11th innings against UVA on Sunday when the Noles had a runner in scoring position in each of those frames before finally getting the winning run in twelfth. The top of the order was up in two of those innings.

Freshman Martinez-Esteve is becoming a very dangerous hitter.
It's beginning to be a real joy watching Martinez-Esteve play baseball. He's becoming much more comfortable on the diamond, and it's showing in how smooth he's fielding. Now that he's putting his body in front of the ball, Eddy's getting second chances to make plays as well. He's still leading the team in strikeouts, and swinging wildly at times when he seems to get too anxious at the plate, but Eddy is turning into a very dangerous hitter. With McQuade slumping, I could easily see Eddy getting bumped up to that number two spot in the order.

Speaking of fielding, I've to mention the game that Blake Balkcom had on Saturday night against Virginia. Blake made several very good catches, including a diving grab on a ball that I long-given up on. The thing that Blake has to be careful of though, is that sometimes it's better to take the ball on a hop than dive for it every play. Twice on Sunday, he dove and missed balls, once allowing the runner to advance to second base. I'm sure the coaches will talk to him this week about it. While he hasn't done anything flashy at the plate, with only one extra-base hit in 47 at-bats so far, there's nothing wrong with all those singles. I've seen Blake crush the ball during practice, so I just think it's a matter of time before he gets his timing, and starts to mash the ball as predicted.

Senior Matt Lynch is part of the Seminoles' all-lefty starting rotation.
What more can be said about the Seminole weekend rotation? The current all-lefty combination of Matt Lynch (6-0 2.91), Trent Peterson (4-0 1.62), and now Daniel Davidson (2-0 0.47) were simply dominating in all three games against the Cavaliers this past weekend.

Including Glen Simon (2-0 0.00), in last Wednesday's game against St. Joseph's, FSU starting pitchers have given up only one run in their last four games. Add to that the gaudy scoreless inning streak that Daniel Hodges has, 28.2 innings dating back to May 31st of last season, and you've got one heck of an impressive staff. With the mid-week games beginning to dwindle down (only three left since the Tuesday game against The Citadel will most likely be cancelled due to a lack of a rainout), FSU will have more pitchers to throw on the weekends in relief, like Simon, Eddie Cannon, Mark Sauls, and Matt DiBlasi.

Sophomore pitcher Kevin Lynch, one of many young arms yet to see much action this season.
I think someone needs to keep reminding Coach Martin that he's got a very deep staff, and there's no reason to rely on the same pitchers each and every time out. Rhett James has now pitched in 10 out of FSU's last 12 games. Even with the loss of LaMacchia, there are plenty of other young pitchers to turn to. Kevin Lynch, a veteran from last year's team, has only pitched 10.1 innings in 12 appearances. I hope it's just a case of saving some of the arms for a late-season push.

Monday's polls should be interesting to see. Arizona State lost a game to No. 30 Oklahoma, and Georgia Tech lost to unranked Kent State on Sunday. It should be noted though, that Tech finally played and beat a ranked team on the road last week in the Auburn Tigers. We'll see if the pollsters penalize those teams like they did FSU last week for losing a game to Florida. Not that it matters at all right now, but there might very well be three different number one teams this week.

Nole Digest Top Stories