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18 posts from February 2013

February 25, 2013

Florida State Officially Announces 2013 Football Schedule

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The 2013 Florida State football schedule was officially announced on Monday afternoon, just a couple days after news leaked that the Seminoles had moved their game with Pittsburgh up to Labor Day and would be dropping Wofford.

FSU opted to replace Wofford with Bethune-Cookman, a MEAC opponent that played at the University of Miami in 2012 and will now visit Tallahassee on September 21. 

As I alluded to back when the opponents for 2013 were announced, this schedule leaves something to be desired in terms of major home dates. The two biggest games the Seminoles will play in are road games with Clemson and Florida. The biggest home game will be Miami on November 2nd. 

Beyond that though, there's not a ton of great games schedule to be played at Doak Campbell Stadium come next season. But if the Seminoles want to make a run, this isn't a bad year to do it. Aside from the favorable set of opponents, FSU never plays back to back road games and gets a bye week before the Clemson game and a cupcake before Florida.

It may not be a great schedule to sell tickets with, but it could be a nice one to win out on– provided the Seminoles win the ones they're supposed to.

After opening the season on Labor Day at Pittsburgh in a nationally televised game, Florida State gets a bye week before hosting Nevada in their home opener.

The next week Bethune-Cookman visits Tallahassee before FSU heads to Boston to play BC. Parents Weekend will be the following week at home against Maryland before the Seminoles take another bye week heading into their road trip to Clemson.

A trip to Wake Forest the second week of November is sandwiched between back to back home games against NC State and Miami and then Syracuse and Idaho.

In the Seminoles' final game of the season on November 30, they travel to Gainesville to square off with the rival Florida Gators.

Here is the complete 2013 FSU Football Schedule

September 2 - @ Pittsburgh (Labor Day)
September 7 - Idle
September 14 - Nevada
September 21 - Bethune-Cookman
September 28 - @ Boston College
October 5 - Maryland (Parents Weekend)
October 12 - Idle
October 19 - @ Clemson
October 26 - NC State
November 2 - Miami
November 9 - @ Wake Forest
November 16 - Syracuse (Homecoming)
November 23 - Idaho
November 30 - @ Florida

 

For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on twitter...

February 24, 2013

Seminoles Finish Sweep of Bulls, Win Game Two of Doubleheader 5-2

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Florida State improved to 7-0 on the young season on Sunday afternoon, completing a sweep of the University of South Florida (1-5) by taking game two of their doubleheader 5-2.

After being rained out on Friday and part of Saturday, the two schools played a pair of games on Sunday, starting with Florida State's 8-0 win in the early game and finishing just as more storm clouds rolled in with a tightly contested 5-2 Seminole victory in the second matchup. 

Behind freshman CF DJ Stewart's three RBI day and a strong pitching performance from junior RHP Peter Miller, the Seminoles jumped out to an early lead but had to battle down the stretch as the Bulls tried to rally for a late win.

"As long as I've been blessed to watch young men for Florida State play baseball, the more impressed I am with the way our guys got after it today," said FSU head coach Mike Martin. "You win the first game today, you know you've won the series, but yet there's no 'I'm satsified' [from this team]. There's that desire to win the next one. It's something that makes all of us coaches extremely proud to be associated with a group that approaches the game that way."

After a couple of high scoring games to start the series, USF and FSU traded scoreless frames over the first three innings with both pitchers dominating the opposing lineups.

USF starter, freshman RHP Jimmy Herget was the first to buckle, giving up a pair of doubles that lead to the first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. After striking out junior LF Marcus Davis- the Seminoles' hottest hitter- Herget gave up a double to junior 1B Casey Smit. 

The next batter, junior C Ladson Montgomery, belted another double to score Smit and give Florida State the early advantage. 

The Seminoles added two more in the bottom of the fifth also. After an error allowed sophomore RF Josh Delph to reach with one out, Jose Brizuela drew a walk. Stewart came to the plate next and after a double-steal moved both runners into scoring position, belted a double to the left field corner that brought both home to extend the Florida State lead to 3-0.

On the mound for the Seminoles, Miller was excellent, working six scoreless innings and giving up just two hits, walking one and striking out five. He left the pitcher of record.

"Quality starts from both [of our pitchers today]. Best game I've seen Peter Miller pitch since he's been here," said Martin. "Miller had three pitches going for him and that's what it takes to beat a club like South Florida."

But the Bulls refused to go quietly, Bryan Holtmann replaced Miller in the top of the 7th and ran into trouble immediately. After issuing a leadoff walk to USF junior CF James Ramsay, senior RF Jimmy Falla doubled to knock Holtmann out of the game and put both runners into scoring position with no outs.

Junior RHP Gage Smith came in to try and work FSU out of the jam, but walked the first batter he faced, senior LF Alex Mendez, to load the bases. Freshman 3B Luke Maglich was able to bring the Bulls' first run of the game in on a fielder's choice two batters later, but Smith worked out of the inning allowing just the one run and the Seminoles escaped the jam with a 3-1 lead in tact.

The Seminoles got the run back in the bottom of the 7th when Stewart singled home freshman 2B John Sansone to push the Florida State advantage back to three runs.

But USF continued to fight.

In the top of the 8th senior RF Anthony Diaz started the inning out with a bunt single and advanced to second on a throwing error by Smith. Despite retiring the next two batters, Ramsay was able to cut the Florida State lead to two with a single back up the middle to score Diaz.

After plunking the next batter, Smith was replaced by sophomore LHP Kyle Bird. Bird flirted with trouble of his own too, throwing a wild pitch to the first batter he faced that let both USF runners advance. But a play at the plate nailed Ramsay, who was attempting to score from second, and the Seminoles escaped yet another jam to get out of the 8th.

A Marcus Davis solo home run made it 5-2 heading into the top of 9th, when freshman RHP Jameis Winston came on for the save. The two-sport star had little trouble shutting down the Bulls, working a quick 1-2-3 inning for his first save of the season. 

"He certainly did a good job [in the closer] role tonight," said Martin. "He had no display of nerves going out there in a save situation and got it done. We're looking for somebody to assume that role."

Next weekend Florida State will host Villanova.

 

For all the latest Florida State news and updates, follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

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Seminoles Blank Bulls 8-0 in Game One of Sunday Doubleheader

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Florida State (6-0) wasted little time jumping on USF (1-4) on Sunday morning.

After rain forced the two schools to postpone the second game of Saturday's double header and try for two starting Sunday morning at 11, the Seminoles got to work quickly.

Behind a four-run first inning that ruined an otherwise stellar outing for USF starter Nick Gonzalez, FSU cruised to an 8-0 win over the Bulls in the early game of Sunday's doubleheader.

Florida State broke the game open with a big first inning. A day after surrendering three runs to the Seminoles in the first inning of the series opener, the Bulls found themselves in trouble once again to start the day on Sunday. 

After plunking sophomore RF Josh Delph to lead the game off, Gonzalez walked sophomore SS Giovanny Alfonzo. Gonzalez was able to get freshman CF DJ Stewart to ground the ball back up the middle the next batter, but a throwing error allowed Delph to score and put runners on the corners.

Two batters later, after Stewart stole second, junior DH Marcus Davis continued the hot start to his season by driving in two on a single to center. An E-7 on a stolen base attempt brought Davis in for the 4th run of the inning before Gonzalez could strike out the last two hitters in the Seminole lineup to get out of the first with USF trailing.

By noon Florida State had enough offense on the board to take the early game.

Gonzalez would settle down and hold Florida State at bay for the next four innings though, striking out a career high ten hitters and finishing the game with 5 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 4 R and 3 ER. 

On another day the junior lefty's five inning, ten strikeout effort may have been good for a win but unfortunately he was matched on the mound by Florida State senior RHP Scott Sitz and took the loss.

Sitz was superb on Sunday for the Seminoles, working eight scoreless innings, striking out six and giving up just four hits while keeping the USF batters off-balance all afternoon.

The four runs would prove to be enough for Sitz, but the Seminoles weren't done.

In the sixth, after replacing Gonzalez freshman RHP Justin Patrick found himself in trouble after walking sophomore 3B Jose Brizuela and junior LF Brett Knief to lead off the inning. A wild pitch advanced both into scoring position with no outs before freshman 2B John Sansone blooped a single over the second baseman's head to score both and extend the Florida State lead to 6-0.

The Seminoles added two more against Patrick in the 7th too when Brizuela doubled in McGee and sophomore 1B John Nogowski.

Brizuela continues to demonstrate the maturity at the plate that FSU head coach Mike Martin had raved about before the season. He was 1-1 in the early game, driving in the two on his double, but also working the count for two walks and getting hit by a pitch to reach base all four times he came up to bat. 

It was a very solid showing at the plate for the sophomore from Weston, Florida.

Freshman RHP Kenny Burkhead came on to work the ninth for Florida State and had little trouble recording the final three outs to cement the Seminoles' win.

FSU and USF will play game two starting around 2:15 today.

 

For all the latest Florida State news and updates, follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

Follow @PatrikNohe_MH

February 23, 2013

Florida State Takes Game One of Double-header With USF 14-3

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After inclement weather forced Florida State and South Florida to cancel the Friday night opener of their three-game weekend series, the two schools were forced to try and get a double-header in on Saturday afternoon. 

Beneath overcast skies, with rain-clouds obscuring Tallahassee on the weather maps, the Seminoles and Bulls managed to squeeze in game one after a noon start on Saturday and Florida State took the early game 14-3.

The Seminoles got on to the board first with three hits on three runs in the bottom of the opening inning. After surrendering a walk to Florida State leadoff hitter, sophomore RF Josh Delph, USF starter Joey Lovecchio was able to retire the next two Seminole batters before a Stephen McGee double with two out plated the first Florida State run. Junior DH Marcus Davis singled in the junior catcher the next batter before senior CF Seth Miller added an RBI single of his own to push the Seminole lead to 3-0.

Lovecchio ran into trouble the next inning too. Once again the senior RHP started an inning by walking the leadoff hitter and once again it resulted in Florida State runs. After issuing an opening pass to sophomore 3B Jose Brizuela, junior 1B Casey Smit singled to put two on for the Seminoles. Two batters later Delph doubled off the rightfield wall to make it 5-0 FSU.

Lovecchio avoided walking the leadoff man in the 3rd, instead surrendering a solo home run to Davis. After Miller doubled and a wild ball four to Brizuela put men on the corners with no outs, USF manager Lelo Prado was forced to replace Lovecchio (2+ IP, 7 H, 8 ER, 4 BB, K) with junior LHP Lawrence Pardo. 

Pardo got Smit to line out to second, but freshman 2B John Sansone drew a walk to load the bases for Delph. After working the count to full Pardo got the second out on a grounder to first, but the throw home was late allowing another Seminole run to cross. A batter later senior SS Justin Gonzalez bunted for a hit and drove the 8th Seminole run of the game in, giving Florida State a commanding lead through three.

USF got their first run in the top of the 5th when senior LF Chad Taylor brought freshman 3B Levi Borders in from third with a sac-fly following a leadoff triple. 

Florida State would get the run back in the bottom of the fifth on a Sansone RBI-double. But in the top of the sixth USF was on the offensive again, scoring two more on a two-run homer by sophomore RF Austin Lueck. 

Beyond that though, Florida State starter Brandon Leibrandt was superb, working six innings, giving up five hits and three earned runs while striking out five. It was good enough to get the sophomore left-hander his second win of the young season.

Leibrant turned the game over to the Seminole bullpen after the 7th and was replaced by junior LHP Brandon Johnson who worked a scoreless 7th and 8th inning. 

The Seminoles added five more runs behind doubles by freshman OF Jameis Winston and junior C Ladson Montgomery as the rain began to pour in the bottom of the 8th. But the weather won again on Saturday, forcing the game to be called early with 2 outs in the inning.

After a small dispute over whether the runs scored in the 8th would count it was determined that all five Seminole runs would stand, and FSU won by a final score of 14-3.

Tomorrow the Bulls and Noles will attempt to play games two and three of the series in a Sunday doubleheader starting at 11 AM- weather permitting.

 

For all the latest Florida State news and updates, follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

February 20, 2013

Weaver Shines as Florida State Beats Jacksonville 9-7, Improve to 4-0

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If Florida State (4-0) was looking for another ace to replace Mike Compton alongside Brandon Leibrandt, then sophomore RHP Luke Weaver made a strong case with his performance against Jacksonville on Wednesday evening.

Behind the 19 year-old righty's shutdown performance, Florida State had little trouble with the Jacksonville University Dolphins (1-3), beating them 9-7 in front of 3,861 people at Dick Howser Stadium.

"He was obviously beautiful [pitching tonight]. He went out there and totally dominated with his fastball and the slider," said Florida State manager Mike Martin. "This one of those games you hope that Luke can grow from because he certainly pitched a beautiful baseball game."

Weaver was excellent for the Seminoles from the outset, striking out the side in the first inning, working six scoreless, throwing 83 pitches and striking out a career high nine batters while giving up just one hit and walking no one.

"It was great, I know last year I was a little shaky [against Jacksonville]," said Weaver. "You never forget about something like that especially in your first start.

"It felt good though, everything was locked in. I felt good every inning going out there just pounding the strike zone, not trying to do too much. It just worked out good."

Florida State got on the board in the second inning when sophomore 3B Jose Brizuela hit a grounder down the first base-line to bring in junior C Stephen McGee. The next inning senior SS Justin Gonzalez smashed his second home run of the season to put Florida State up 2-0.

But FSU really broke things open in the fourth inning.

JU Manager Terry Alexander started the inning by replacing junior starter Zach Gordon (3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB) with freshman LHP Josh Baker and the Dolphins quickly found themselves in a jam. After recording the first two outs Baker walked freshman LF Jameis Winston and freshman 2B John Sansone. The next hitter, sophomore RF Josh Delph doubled off the right-field wall and scored on a throwing error to make it 5-0.

That was all for Baker who left the game after just two-thirds an inning having given up three runs on a hit. 

Senior RHP Drew Woods replaced Baker for JU and found himself in trouble just as quickly. After walking Gonzalez, Woods gave up a double to freshman CF DJ Stewart and McGee brought both in with a single to right.

A batter later junior DH Marcus Davis homered over the right-field wall to make it 9-0 Florida State.

In the other dugout, it was a difficult evening early on for the JU offense. After replacing Weaver, sophomore LHP Kyle Bird worked through a jam for a scoreless seventh for Florida State.

But Jacksonville finally found some offense in the 8th against junior RHP Hayden Jordan, who gave up four hits and two runs to allow the Dolphins on to the scoreboard for the first time.

The ninth inning became a comedy of errors for the Seminoles, who committed three in the inning and let Jacksonville load the bases before finally escaping with the win. Freshman LHP Dylan Silva took the hill to start the inning and was quickly saddled with a runner on third after freshman LF Ryan Valdes (who came into the game as a pinch hitter) dropped a fly-ball.

A batter later senior 2B Jake Huxtable hit a grounder to first that brought the runner in. Three walks and a fielding error later it was 9-4 and the bases were loaded for Silva's replacement, junior RHP Robby Coles.

After falling behind to the next batter, Coles pushed the count to full before losing him and walking home another run to bring the tying run to the plate. Coles caught freshman SS Kris Molter looking for the second out, but junior C Braddock Rowe singled to center to drive in two more and pull the Dolphins to within two runs with the game-winning run at the dish.

Coles buckled down though, striking out sophomore 1B Alex McRae for the third and final out to pick up his first save and give Florida State the 9-7 win.

"When you look at a game like this, the first thing that some people might do is look at the negatives. We don't do that here, we look at the positives," said Martin. "We got seven [runs] with two outs and nobody on, we had exceptional discipline at the plate. The game didn't get away from us, [Jacksonville] did a good job of battling and I'm proud of our young men for doing their job and keeping their poise and getting it done when it counted."

Next up for the Seminoles, USF comes to town for a weekend series.

 

For all the latest Florida State news and updates, follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

February 17, 2013

Seminoles Cap 5-Run Comeback in 10th to Win 8-6, Sweep Rhode Island

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Florida State managed to complete the sweep of Rhode Island in their season opening series on Sunday- but it wasn't pretty.

The Seminoles were down 5-0 before they even got a hit on Sunday afternoon, they were out-hit 9-8 and they committed five errors. But behind a four-run 8th inning and a DJ Stewart walk-off home run, Florida State stole an 8-6 victory from Rhode Island in extra innings to finish the sweep.

"This was one where you're just proud to be a Seminole because our young men persevered," said FSU head coach Mike Martin. "The young men stayed tough at the plate, had some good at-bats, got themselves back in the game.

"We kept battling, we kept scrapping and it was a real accomplishment for Florida State to win the way it did."

The Rams got on to the board early in a bizarre first inning that featured three base-runners and a run despite no hits being surrendered. Florida State starter, junior righty Peter Miller, retired the leadoff hitter but then walked the next two. Two batters later Jose Brizuela dropped the would-be third out, a towering pop-fly, on the edge of the infield grass to allow the first URI run to score. 

It was Brizuela's fourth error of the series. The sophomore also had good moments against Rhode Island, like his opening day grand slam and getting hit with the bases loaded to allow the winning run to cross Saturday. But in his first three games since moving to third-base Brizuela's defense has been suspect.

"He had some very good at bats," said Martin, "[But] as he continues to play third base, I'm sure he'll get better and learn from some of those mistakes he made today."

Control was a problem for Miller once again in the second when he gave up a single and then walked a man before advancing both into scoring position on a wild pitch. A two-out single by RF Joe Landi drove both in to make it 3-0 and sent Florida State scrambling to warm up a reliever. 

Martin opted to stick with Miller to start the 3rd though and it proved to be the wrong decision. Miller gave up a single and then walked the next hitter before a sacrifice bunt advanced both into scoring position. With one out and two on, Martin went to sophomore LHP Bryant Holtmann who was able to get out of the inning with just one run scoring on a sac-fly.

URI would tack on another run in the fourth to make it 5-0 before the Florida State bullpen was able to clamp down. 

Miller lasted just 2.1 innings, giving up three hits and four runs (two earned) while walking four. He was replaced by Holtmann who worked 1.2 and gave up a run on three hits. Sophomore LHP Billy Strode came on and settled things down for the Seminoles pitching a scoreless fifth and sixth inning in his Florida State debut.

The Seminoles would get on the board in the bottom of the sixth when the Rhode Island pitchers started to run out of gas. Junior RHP Liam O'Sullivan was excellent through five but after retiring the leadoff hitter in the sixth gave up a double to junior DH Marcus Davis before Brizuela tripled to drive in the first Florida State run of the game.

Sophomore LHP Ty Sterner replaced O'Sullivan but was wild. He walked two and let a couple of his pitches get to the back-stop, advancing Florida State runners each time. Sterner surrendered another run (credited to O'Sullivan) before getting out of the sixth with URI clinging to its 5-2 lead.

After QB/OF/RHP Jameis Winston worked a quiet top of the 7th in his pitching debut, Sterner was able to get through the bottom of the inning without incident.

Winston ran into trouble in the top of the 8th though when he balked in a run to extend the URI lead to 6-2. Brizuela made his fifth error of the series on a throw across the infield to start the 8th and then a throwing error by Winston put men on the corners with no outs. Winston fought through the next two batters but with two down was called for the balk allowing the Rams' sixth run to cross.

FSU wasn't done though. In the bottom of the eighth Brizuela lead off with a double and advanced to third on a throwing error. The next batter, senior OF Seth Miller walked before sophomore 2B Giovanni Alfonzo singled to right to drive in Brizuela and cut the Rhode Island lead to three.

URI Manager Jim Foster went back to the bullpen, replacing Sterner (2.1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2K) with junior RHP Milan Mantle. With two on and no out, Mantle wasted little time walking junior 1B Casey Smit on five pitches to load the bases. Junior OF Brett Knief drove in two runs with his first hit as a Seminole the very next batter to make it 6-5.

Mantle got senior SS Justin Gonzalez to strike out for the first out of the inning before walking freshman LF DJ Stewart to load the bases for Stephen McGee, who tied the game on a fielder's choice when the shortstop went to second for the force.

The bases were loaded again after Davis walked and that brought Jose Brizuela up to the plate for the second time in the inning. But the sophomore was unable to do anything with his second at-bat, skying a pop-up to short for the third out of the inning.

The two teams traded scoreless frames in the ninth. After balking the run in during the 8th Jameis Winston displayed excellent maturity to shake it off and pitch a scorless inning for the Seminoles.

"Jameis was very impressive," said Martin. "He kept his poise, the balk didn't bother him, he kept his poise and got us in the dugout."

"It was fun. It was fun because I came in a tough situation," said Winston, who finished with 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER and 4 K's. "I knew that we were going to come back and get the win. I was like 'hopefully I can get me a win,' because I know we're not about to lose to Rhode Island- even though it is baseball."

But FSU couldn't finish the comeback in the bottom of the ninth and went down 1-2-3 to set up a tenth and final inning to begin just minutes before the NCAA-mandated 3:45 curfew.

Junior RHP Gage Smith worked a scoreless top of the 10th for FSU and then turned things over to the Seminole offense to try and get him the win. After pinch hitter Ladson Montgomery flied out to deep center, Justin Gonzalez singled to left and DJ Stewart stepped to the plate with a man on, one out and a chance to finish URI.

"I was just sitting there, listening to [coach Martin] the whole way," said Stewart. "I was looking for my pitch to get and drive it."

After working the count to 2-2, Stewart- in just his third game at FSU- blasted a walk-off home run to deep right-center field to give Florida State the sweep and cap their comeback. 

"I knew it was gone as soon as I hit it," joked Stewart. "The only thing, when I got to first I was like, 'please get over the fence,' but then I saw it.

"The first person I saw [when I rounded third] was Gonzo. And just the excitement on his face, that's what I'm here to do it for, the seniors, they've been here for four years. They keep getting to Omaha. We want to win it this year."

Next up for Florida State is Jacksonville who comes to town Tuesday afternoon.

 

For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

February 16, 2013

Florida State Beats URI 6-2 After Three-Run 7th

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Florida State improved to 2-0 on the season Saturday afternoon after winning a fairly sloppy game against Rhode Island. Despite giving up five walks, hitting a batter and committing a couple of errors (and several more mental mistakes) the Seminoles won 6-2 after a big seventh inning gave them the lead for good.

"You have to be pleased with the way we kept our poise and just battled," said FSU head coach Mike Martin. "It was one of those games- and I mean you don't ever [make] excuses- but it was just a little bit chilly. It didn't matter, we fought we did what we needed to do to win the baseball game. I'm very proud of our young men."

The game started off slowly with neither team scoring until the bottom of the 4th when freshman CF DJ Stewart drew a bases loaded walk to give Florida State the early 1-0 advantage.

For most of the rest of the day it was a pitcher's duel with both teams working in and out of jams and drawing plenty of walks. 

Rhode Island starting pitcher, senior right-hander Sean Furney, worked four innings surrendering just the one run but also walking seven and raising his pitch count to well over 100 before even reaching the 5th. Junior LHP Nick Narodowy replaced him in the fifth and pitched two scorless before running into trouble with one out in the seventh.

For Florida State, senior RHP Scott Sitz started and lasted just four innings himself, striking out four and walking one while giving up four hits and no runs.

"We made some quality pitches, Scott Sitz had a quality outing, they did a good job of being patient and getting his pitch count up, we weren't going to let him go into the 90's and he'd thrown 78 [through four], so we had to get him out of the ballgame," said Martin. "But I thought he pitched very well."

Sitz was replaced with sophomore LHP Kyle Bird who struggled a little but worked himself out of a bases loaded jam in fifth. After a quiet sixth, things fell apart for junior RHP Gage Smith in the top of the seventh though.

With two men on, sophomore 3B Jose Brizuela went to second to try and set up the double play but skipped the throw in causing the ball to careen away from the bag. That throwing error allowed the first Rhode Island run to cross. Moments later junior LHP Brandon Johnson replaced Smith and induced a sacrifice fly which scored the second run of the inning for the Rams and gave them a 2-1 advantage.

But Florida State struck back in the bottom of the inning. After freshman Stewart reached on an error, a Stephen McGee (JR C) walk advanced him to second and a Marcus Davis (JR OF) sacrifice bunt advanced both runners to scoring position. That was enough to knock Narodowy from the game.

Senior RHP Bobby Dean replaced him for URI and promptly walked John Nogowski to load the bases. Jameis Winston grounded into a fielder's choice for the second out on the first pitch of the next at-bat, but Dean would plunk Brizuela the very next batter to bring the tying run in anyway and even the game at two.

"Big, big play right there. It was one of those that got away from the pitcher, it was well into the batter's box and so instead of running from it, he wears it," said Martin. "That took a lot of nerve, that's the mark of a winner. I'm very proud of Jose." 

Dean followed the plunking by surrendering the lead, issuing a walk to the ninth hitter, freshman 2B John Sansone, and putting the 'Noles back on top 3-2.

Rob Curran replaced Dean and plated the third Florida State run of the inning on a wild pitch before retiring Josh Delph to end the 7th.

With a 4-2 lead Johnson worked a quick 1-2-3 eighth inning and turned it back over to the Seminole offense in the bottom of the inning. Senior SS Justin Gonzalez provided a little more insurance with a leadoff home run. 

But Florida State wasn't done.

Stewart singled followed by a Stephen McGee walk. The bases were loaded when the Rams couldn't get a handle on a Seth Miller sacrifice bunt and he reached safely. John Nogowski hit a sacrifice fly to deep left to drive in the sixth run of the game before Curran was able to get the final two outs and get out of the inning with the URI now trailing 6-2.

Johnson stayed on during the ninth and worked through a couple of errors for a scoreless final frame to give the Seminoles the win, 6-2, and improve them to 2-0 on the young season.

Florida State wraps up its series with URI tomorrow at noon.

 

For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter.

Hoops: Florida State Edges Boston College 69-66

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Florida State needed Saturday's game against Boston College badly. After suffering through several difficult losses, a rash of injuries and fading postseason hopes, the Seminoles (14-11, 6-6 ACC) needed to get things headed in the right direction against the Eagles. A team they overmatched- at least on paper.

Fortunately a 21-point performance from Michael Snaer and a career high in assists from Devon Bookert were enough to make up for some issues defensively and get the Seminoles back to .500 in ACC play.

"Going into this game I thought Boston College was a little bit dangerous," said head coach Leonard Hamilton of the Eagles (11-14, 3-9 ACC). "I thought our players really adjusted well. We had a little difficulty getting over the ball-screens and [closing out] on the threes. But on the offensive end I thought our guys did well."

The Seminoles jumped out to a 31-26 first half lead behind the early performance of Michael Snaer. The senior guard played 18 minutes in the first and lead the Seminoles with ten points, four rebounds and an assist. Okaro White contributed seven and Aaron Thomas added four in the half. Both Terry Whisnant and Montay Brandon connected on a first-half three as well. 

Despite getting out shot 45-to-41 percent, the Seminoles were able to gain the early advantage by out-rebounding the Eagles 19-11, and more importantly 7-1 on the offensive end. But that doesn't tell the complete story either. Despite the seven first-half offensive rebounds, the 'Noles only managed four second-chance points.

Even when the rebounding is there, the Seminoles still need to improve their efficiency on the second effort. A lot of that will come with more strength and experience from the big men on the roster. Boris Bojanovsky, Kiel Turpin and Michael Ojo are all developing but need to learn to be more demonstrative inside. It will come eventually but for now it's a work in progress.

In the second half, the BC three-pointer brought them back and Florida State's rebounding fell off. FSU lead by as many as 12 in the first half but after the Eagles got the hot hand from behind the arc, the Seminoles lost the advantage quickly. 

Olivier Hanlan hit a couple three's early in the second, but got into foul trouble and went to the bench. His teammates picked up where he left off though and continued to connect from deep. By the second media timeout it was 45-42 BC and the Seminoles were once again searching for offense and perimeter defense. 

On Wednesday against no. 3 Miami the Seminoles were determined to prevent the Hurricanes from beating them on the perimeter and limited UM to just 8 three-point attempts total. That defensive focus was missing against the Eagles though as BC was able to get good looks beyond the arc regularly and ended the day shooting 9-of-16 from deep.

Florida State fought through it though, recapturing the lead 54-50 behind a 12-point burst that included couple of threes from Snaer and Ian Miller and some solid play out of White. White was key for the Seminoles on Saturday, picking up the offensive slack when necessary on his way to 13 points and 8 rebounds. 

Florida State continued to pull away as the game wound down, Snaer added to his stellar first half performance with 11 more in the second to finish the day with 21 as well as six rebounds and two assists. 

"I thought Michael did a good job of letting the game come to him," said Hamilton. "I thought he was very efficient and provided great leadership on the floor."

Devon Bookert was also key for Florida State, after a quiet first half the freshman point guard had six second-half assists (to bring his total to a career-best eight) and did it without a single turnover. Even despite getting just seven second-half rebounds as a team and losing the overall rebounding battle 27-26 (after dominating in the first half), the performance from Bookert, Snaer and White on the offensive end proved enough to give the Seminoles the advantage late in the game.

It got close at the end though.

Headed into the final 90 seconds Florida State had a 66-60 advantage, but two bad possessions gave BC a chance, letting them pull to within two. With 22 seconds left, trailing 66-64 the Eagles fouled Bookert and sent him to the line to shoot. He hit both, extending the Florida State advantage to four and leaving BC in desperation mode.

The Eagles would add a lay-in on their end with 6.4 seconds remaining and then sent Terry Whisnant to the line. He split the free throws, giving BC a shot to tie it with five seconds remaining. But after the Eagles in-bounded and raced down the court, Ryan Anderson's buzzer-beater hit the front of the rim giving the Seminoles a 69-66 win.

FSU shot 51% on the day and limited themselves to just ten turnovers, it was good enough to mask an effort that featured lax perimeter defense at times and inconsistent rebounding. 

But the Seminoles know heading forward against better competition they will need to become a more consistent team in all facets in order to have any chance at making a run in the ACC tournament.

"I'm somewhat encouraged because we've probably been a little more inconsistent [than we were today] the rest of the year," said Hamilton. "But there's still a long ways to go."

 

For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter.

February 15, 2013

Florida State Defeats Rhode Island 11-5 in Season Opener, Extends Opening Day Win-Streak to 15

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Florida State opened up its 2013 baseball season on Friday afternoon looking to extend their 14-game opening day winning streak against the University of Rhode Island. And behind five solid innings from Brandon Leibrandt and some offense from newcomers CF DJ Stewart and DH Marcus Davis as well as sophomore 3B Jose Brizuela, the Seminoles had little problem making it 15 in a row.

"On an opening day with a lot of new guys you're a little bit cautious of what to expect," said FSU head coach Mike Martin. "After the nine innings I just saw I was very pleased with how we played. We had good at-bats and we showed good poise on the mound."

Florida State wasted no time getting ahead, scoring three in the first inning after Stewart doubled in senior SS Justin Gonzalez in his first at-bat and Marcus Davis hit a two-run home run in his. Both Seminoles were making their debuts at Florida State.

The next inning Gonzalez tripled to drive in freshman 2B John Sansone. But the Rams fought back in the top of the third, plating two runs after 3B Mike LeBel singled one in and CF Jeff Roy stole home for the second to make it 4-2. 

The Florida State offense would continue to tack on more and more runs and work deep into counts though, quickly getting into the URI bullpen. Rams starting pitcher Mike Bradstreet worked just 3.1 innings before being knocked out. He surrendered 6 runs over that time while walking two and giving up five hits. 

For the Seminoles, Brandon Leibrandt was far from perfect but still picked up the win in five-plus innings of work after allowing four runs on five hits and a walk. Leibrandt struck out six, but also ran into a couple of jams and was knocked out of the game after giving up a two-run homer to start the sixth inning. 

"Brandon pitched well, probably should have gotten him after that long inning that we had [in the 5th]. When a guy sits over here in this weather- for probably 20 minutes is how long he was over here- it's something you don't experience when you're getting ready to pitch," said Martin.

"There's room to get better for sure," said Leibrandt. "But I'm coming out of here feeling good about myself, feeling good about how the team looked."

The two-run homer that knocked out Leibrandt put the Rams back within reach, trailing 7-4. But it wouldn't last for long. After hitting three straight batters, URI reliever Brad Applin managed to strike out Jameis Winston before Brizuela hit a grand-slam over the right-center field wall. It marked the second opening day grand slam of the sophomore thirdbaseman's career.

"It's a great feeling, I guess I'm making it a tradition," joked Brizuela after the game. "I thought it was too high, I was kind of scared because I was just looking at the ball, I hadn't even touched first yet. I didn't want it to hit the wall and me still be at first. I'm really glad it went out."

Up 11-4, the Seminoles cruised the rest of the way behind sophomore LHP Bryant Holtmann (two scoreless innings), junior RHP Robby Coles (scoreless 8th) and sophomore RHP Luke Weaver. Only Weaver surrendered a run in the ninth to make the final score 11-5.

It was a solid opening day for the Seminoles who enter 2013 with more than a few questions following the departure of the core of 2012's CWS team. 

In their Seminole debuts DJ Stewart and Marcus Davis both impressed. Stewart belted a double to plate the first FSU run of the season before Davis hit the first Florida State homer of the 2013 campaign. On the day Stewart was 1-4 and Davis 1-3, but both made one heck of an impact in their first at-bat.

Jameis Winston on the other hand went 0-3 in his much anticipated debut. The two-sport star is also going to contend for the starting QB job next season on the football team, but plenty of eager Seminoles fans were looking for a peek of the freshman's athleticism in the baseball opener on Friday. Unfortunately, Winston was quiet in his three at-bats and aside from awkwardly banging into the fence as he attempted to rob a home run, didn't really make much of an impression in his first game.

Overall though Florida State should feel good about starting 2013 off on the right foot. After losing the middle of their batting order to the MLB over the summer, it looks like there may well be some pop in the 2013 Seminoles' bats. Tomorrow the Seminoles will get more answers as they look to replace Mike Compton (lost to Tommy John surgery) with a new Saturday starter.

FSU host URI the next two days before Jacksonville heads to town on Tuesday.

 

For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter.

February 07, 2013

Pressures of Recruiting Process Impact Trio of South Florida HS Players in Vastly Different Ways

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As the Alex Collins saga grinds to a close, it casts light on a side of recruiting that is seldom covered or talked about. For all the hype and attention surrounding these high school kids, there's also considerable pressure being placed on them.

Kids hear from dozens of different coaches, players, relatives and other recruits that all have an opinion on where they should go. Recruiting reporters call and badger them almost nightly about who've they spoken to and which direction they're leaning. For some recruits the attention is enough to make them buckle, for others it almost seems like they thrive in the situation.

In South Florida yesterday at three different locations, there were three very different reactions on display to the recruiting process. As three young men prepared to make college choices that could potentially take them out of their hometown, they all showed in their own way how the nearly year-long (longer in some cases) recruiting process can finally take its toll on a player.

For five-star Booker T. Washington linebacker Matthew Thomas, as the pressure mounted with signing day approaching it became easiest to become detached and keep everyone outside of his family at an arm's length. That marked a bit of a contrast from the kid Jimbo Fisher had been recruiting up until that point.

"I've had a great relationship with him for a long time," said Jimbo Fisher on Wednesday. "It was good to see the old guy come back because at the end I started seeing that tight guy [leading into] decision day, after [signing] day though, their old personalities come back.

"It's funny how you get used to them for two-three weeks they start when they have to make that decision they start going into that shell and then when it's over with it's like, 'hey that's the guy I knew two months ago,' that old personality comes back. But it was pretty nerve-racking [for him], it came down to the wire it was a very tough situation."

Thomas had a number of offers, but was being pulled between the hometown Miami Hurricanes- who mounted a very large final push- and the Seminoles up in Tallahassee. He opted to sign his letter of intent with Florida State, but the pressure and strain of the decision and all the different voices in his ear clearly had an impact.

"Think about the biggest moment you've ever had, the pressure," said Fisher. "You're 17 years old, there's a lot of heat and all the social media, all the recruiting services that call everyday, everybody at school's got 14 places they want you to go, an aunt, an uncle, there's a lot of pressure on these kids and until they sign you don't ever know how they're going to act on a signing day."

That was never more true than with Stacy Coley, the four-star receiver out Northeastern HS.

Coming into signing day the expectation was that Coley would commit to Florida State. All indications up until that point had him leaning towards the Seminoles. It was going to be difficult to get the young receiver to leave home and head up to Tallahassee for college, but after the work FSU put in on the recruiting trail Jimbo Fisher and his coaching staff felt confident heading into his decision.

But working against Florida State was the pressure from those closest to Coley that wanted him to stay close to home, to be a local hero at the University of Miami.

That pressure brought Coley literally to tears and as ESPN cut to commercials the TV cameras showed Coley succumbing to his emotions just moments before he was scheduled to make his announcement.

That was when Jimbo Fisher got the feeling he wouldn't be coming to Tallahassee.

“It feels good [to have it over with],” said Coley after his announcement. “I relieved a big stress off my shoulders and I can be an average kid again. I thought it was just beneficial for me and my family. Just stay home."

If the pressure got to Thomas and Coley, Keith Bryant almost seemed to revel in it. For weeks leading up to his announcement he was using social media to drum up interest, tweeting things such as, "I'm about to shock the world."

Bryant played his recruitment process like there was a difficult choice in front of him and things were wide open, when in fact they had been closed for some time.

"Keith was very key in getting a lot of those other guys [to commit],” said Fisher. “You talk about a guy working the phones. Keith wanted a lot of other good players around him. He was trying to work [Thomas], he was trying to work [five=star corner] Jalen Ramsey, constantly texting, calling, he was that guy working other people to get that class together. He wanted good players around him."

Bryant played up the decision long after knew where he was heading. While Thomas and Coley couldn't wait to get it over with, Bryant drank it all in. 

National Signing Day has become a strange circus full of showmanship and family drama. Thomas, Coley and Bryant all handled the rigors of the recruiting process and the pressure of that final decision in vastly different ways. Over in Plantatation, Florida, Alex Collins' situation has demonstrated the toll the process can take on a family. 

And as the coverage of recruiting continues to increase and more and more people grow an interest in it, things are only going to get crazier.

 

For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter.


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