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39 posts from March 2013

March 19, 2013

Observations From Florida State's Pro Day

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Florida State's annual Pro Day workout came and went on Tuesday afternoon and with it over 30 players, new and old, attempted to help their stock in the upcoming NFL Draft.

For the print-coverage of Florida State's Pro Day, click here

But there was also plenty of other news coming out of Florida State's Pro Day that didn't make it into the recap, so here's a little late night bonus coverage...

-Four Seminoles were invited to New York for the draft. They are EJ Manuel, Xavier Rhodes, Menelik Watson and Bjoern Werner. Werner and Rhodes are undecied, Manuel will likely attend.

-A number of high profile assistant coaches were on hand for the Pro Day, Josh McDaniel, Todd Haley and Rob Ryan to name a few. More locally, the Dolphins sent OL Coach Jim Turner and QB Coach Zac Taylor to scout for them.

-This group of Seminoles players are as tight-knit as they come. As the focus turned to the bench, every single player crowded around to watch and shout encouragement to their teammates. As guys like Anthony McCloud and Tank Carradine started to strain at the end of their sets you could hear dozens of players chiming in with their support. Jimbo Fisher spoke often about how this was a special class of players and that was on display on Tuesday morning.

-Tank Carradine really helped himself, even in limited action. He put up 32 reps on the bench and managed to avoid doing any work that could present him in a less than favorable light to coaches and scouts. Rob Ryan even joked after Carradine finished lifting that he could have probably thrown Ryan himself up about 20 times he looked so jacked. All kind aside though, a number of coaches and scouts seemed to be taking an interest in Tank. He could be looking at a second day selection.

-The secret is getting out about Menelik Watson. While Dolphins OL coach Jim Turner did little to hide his interest in the prospect, several other teams also managed to get a little bit of one-on-one time with Watson too. He spent a good ten minutes talking with Bears staff as well as scouts from several other teams.

-One of the funnier moments of the day came when Bjoern Werner told us that one team wouldn't let him start his interview until he said, "Get on the Choppa" a la Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold however is Austrian, Bjoern is German and according to Werner his impersonation did not impress.

-Werner showed surprising agility in linebacker drills, he showed flexibility in his hips, a decent backpedal and above average ball skills. 

-Brandon Jenkins looks physically impressive, he's in solid shape is carrying around no extra weight. But he's not back from that Lisfranc injury and may have hurt himself by trying to complete a full workout. Jenkins told us after the Pro Day that he believes his film speaks for itself, but with the stigma around the Lisfranc and after his showing at the Combine and his Pro Day, he may have damaged his draft stock.

-Daniel Glauser may be in the best shape of his life. The offensive tackle looked almost unrecognizable slimmed down on Tuesday. He's attempting to generate some interest at tight end. He would be a project but showed some decent agility during drills.

-A number of former players looking for new contracts also worked out, including Alex Barron, Darren McFadden and Travis Johnson. Barron seemed to be generating interest from the Raiders.

-Jajuan Harley, a former FSU corner who transferred to Middle Tennessee State was back on campus to work out. He had a very good outing, including a very fast 40-time. He could sneak in to the back of the draft.

-Greg Reid was also back on campus after being booted from the team, transferring to Valdosta State and then tearing his ACL. He showed some lingering effects from the injury. 

-Xavier Rhodes, who many see as a solid round one guy, had a good day but several scouts did note that his footwork needs coaching. Rhodes is extremely athletically gifted, but could still refine his technique. 

-EJ Manuel had an excellent workout. The Bills seemed to take a keen interest in the fifth year senior signal caller. He looked sharp during drills, demonstrating good accuracy and excellent velocity on his throws. With the NFL's shift towards the read option and Manuel's mobility, he could find his way into the first round come April. Manuel's success actually running a read-option is another conversation, but he's seeing his stock continue to climb as the draft approaches.

-Vince Williams is starting to get the "hungry" label. He was a late addition to the Senior Bowl and made an excellent showing. He showed up in Indianapolis and did good work at the Combine. On Tuesday, he quietly impressed with a very good 40 while also looking fluid in coverage drills. Williams has slimmed down about 20 pounds since the season ended and looked very sharp at FSU's Pro Day. He should see his stock climb.

-Wouldn't be surprised to see the St. Louis Rams take a shot on Chris Thompson. He spent some time with Rams personnel on Tuesday. Thompson didn't participate in much, but was on hand to talk with coaches and scouts as well as to support his teammates. The senior tailback had a breakout season cut short by a blown knee, but could be an intriguing late round prospect for a number of teams.

-Finally, Dustin Hopkins demonstrated some of his ingenuity when he basically forced coaches and scouts to take notice of his kicking late in the workout. Without much fanfare Hopkins started hitting kicks from the 20, and slowly backed into the large group standing out near the 35. When a kicker asks you to move out of the way so he can pound 50+ yard field goals through the uprights, you tend to take notice. Hopkins is the latest in a line of great Seminoles kickers dating back to Graham Gano and Sebastian Janikowski. He leaves school as the all time leading scorer amongst kickers in NCAA history and hopes to be drafted in the late rounds in April.

 

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

Seminoles Lose to La. Tech 71-66 in NIT First Round, Can't Send Snaer Out a Winner

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The lone silver lining in Florida State's disappointing National Invitation Tournament bid was that it gave the Florida State faithful one last chance to see senior guard Michael Snaer in action.

And the 6-5 former McDonalds All-American did not disappoint, playing all 40 minutes and scoring 24 points in his final appearance at the Tucker Center.

But much as was the case all season, Snaer's best effort wasn't enough on Tuesday night. The Seminoles lost to Louisiana Tech 71-66 in the first round of the NIT.

"Since I've been here we've never been put in a situation where we've had to put so many inexperienced guys on the court at one time," said head coach Leonard Hamilton. "Michael didn't have to worry about that [as a young player] because he was surrounded by veterans. 

"I think that all the way back to the beginning of the season it became obvious to me that this was going to be a tremendous learning experience for this team. We've had some good moments and we have shown that we have a lot of growing up to do."

The first half was a perfect illustration of that. Michael Snaer was really the only offensive bright spot for the Seminoles, he hit four three-pointers and had 14 in the opening period. Between the Snaer threes and the 7 blocks Florida State had defensively, the crowd at the Tucker Center had plenty to get on their feet for.

But the Seminoles also had plenty of issues facing them in the first half too. Devin Bookert, typically a very sound distributor, played 11 minutes and committed four turnovers without recording a single assist, for instance. The Louisiana Tech defensive pressure also caused plenty of issues for the Seminoles at the outset. FSU had 11 turnovers and scores of other possessions ended when FSU mishandled solid passes or succumbed to poor shot selection.

Despite their offensive issues the Seminole defense was stout, swatting shots left and right and limiting the Bulldogs to just 26% shooting. At the end of the first half it was 28-24 with both teams searching for offense.

"In the second half after we get up eight, we turn the ball over three, four times," said Hamilton. "They were just playing at a high level of energy that we just didn't seem to match."

After allowing Tech to start a run, Bookert's rough game continued when he capped Tech's run by getting the ball stripped under his own basket after an in-bounds pass, and then letting the layup in to tie the score at 35.

The game would stay tight from that point on with both teams using a full court press (Louisiana Tech all game, FSU intermittently) to frustrate the other offense while each team's star shouldered the load.

For every basket Snaer was able to throw down, Louisiana Tech G Raheem Appleby was there to match it. Appleby ended the night as the game's leading scorer with 27 points.

"When we went into half-time my coach told me to use the pump-fake or try not to go see deep because they were blocking so many shots," said Appleby after the game. "So I just came out and tried to do that with the floaters and the lay-ups."

At the final media timeout Florida State trailed 60-59. The two teams traded possessions coming out of the break but some sloppy play from the Seminoles allowed the Bulldogs to take control on a 6-0 run.

FSU was forced to resort to fouling as the final seconds ticked off the clock. They did manage to get the ball back with just over 30 seconds remaining, with three points separating them from Tech, but their best offensive efforts failed to produce anything and the ball was turned over again after Snaer's attempt to drive from the wing and lay it in off the backboard failed to connect.

Tech hit two more free throws at the other end to make it 71-66 before a last desperation three point attempt from Snaer rimmed out inside of five seconds.

As the final buzzer sounded, Florida State's senior leader found himself walking off his home court one final time- but at the receiving end of a loss.

Now Snaer will turn his focus to his NBA ambitions and the rest of the Florida State team will turn their attention to what could be a promising 2013-14 season.

"I think from a talent standpoint it's here, but I think from a maturity standpoint it's lacking," said Hamilton when asked about his team heading into next year. "I really think that because we've been put in this situation we've had enough good moments that we can learn from and we've had too many bad moments where I think we also can learn from those.

"But I also think these guys have been put in a situation where some of our teams in the past have not have the opportunity to grow, to learn by fire. I think [with solid off-season work] I'm hopeful that we will learn from the challenges we faced this year, but I'm also hopeful the things that we did positively we can learn and grow from too. It's obvious this teams still has some growing up to do.

"But the good thing is I'm going to add some pieces."

Notebook: There were some positives to take away from the rest of the Seminole team too. Montay Brandon for instance had ten points, including two impressive finishes after getting good penetration and driving to the hoop against the Bulldogs. Where that was all season is anyone's guess, but heading forward if he can continue making those plays next year he'll be a quality component of the Seminole offense... The team struggled agaisnt a full-court press all evening, turning the ball over 18 times against Tech... Ian Miller had his foot casted to try and help him heal from his foot injury, he was not available. Leonard Hamilton said he was not encouraged by Miller's progress though because the injury had not improved despite a drastically reduced workload in practice... Bookert finished with five turnovers and no assists... Eight of the ten Seminoles that got minutes committed a turnover, Turpin and Whisnant were the lone players without a giveaway... Okaro White had three blocks against the Bulldogs, he finished with 11 points and six rebounds in addition to the blocks... Hamilton said he felt his team didn't respond appropriately to the intensity of La. Tech, he chalked it up to inexperience... "I felt the officials let the game be played physically, and we should never complain about allowing a game to get physical," said Hamilton.

 

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

Seminoles Win Bizarre Game Over Stetson 5-3

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The Seminoles improved to 19-1 in bizarre fashion on Tuesday afternoon. After a flubbed ball in left field let Stetson take a 3-1 lead in the top of the 7th, an error-filled bottom of the 8th let the Seminoles steal a win from the Hatters without plating an earned run. 

“As a coach, you have to be very pleased and proud of the way our guys kept fighting,” said FSU manager Mike Martin. “I am proud that we won the ballgame, yes we were fortunate there is no question, but it’s still the bottom line that I am proud of those young men for getting the job done.”

The game began as a pitcher's duel. 

Stetson starter Kevin Fagan went 7 strong for the Hatters. His lone issue came in the second when Casey Smit singled in Stephen McGee for what would be the only run surrendered by either team in the first six innings. 

Other than that Fagan was excellent on Tuesday, giving up just three hits in his seven innings while striking out six.

His counterpart for Florida State, Luke Weaver, was solid himself, working 6.2 innings while striking out four and giving up just two earned runs. But he ran into trouble in the top of the 7th inning when Stetson LF Robert Bruce singled with one out to start a rally for the Hatters.

After 2B Tyler Bocock doubled to left, freshman DJ Stewart booted the ball, allowing Bruce to score the Hatters' first run of the game.

Weaver struck out the next hitter before Martin opted to go to the bullpen for Kyle Bird to try and exploit a pitching matchup.

“I thought Luke pitched extremely well,” said Martin. “It was one of those that I kind of wish he could have gone longer but he was at 100 pitches and it was time to get him with a lefty coming up.”

Bird gave up a single to Fagan (who hits for himself in Stetson's lineup) that scored Bocock. An error on Jose Brizuela the next batter let another run cross before Bird was able to get out of the inning with the Seminoles now trailing 3-1.

But Florida State continued to battle.

After seven strong innings Fagan started the bottom of the 8th by giving up a single to Giovanny Alfonzo. He was promptly replaced on the hill by LHP Cameron Griffin who received absolutely no help from his defense and took the loss despite not giving up a single earned run. 

Griffin faced PH Marcus Davis (a healthy scratch from the day's lineup) and induced a towering fly ball to deep center field.

Which was dropped.

LF Josh Delph loaded the bases with a single the very next hitter, and Jose Brizuela kept them loaded and spun the carousel with another single to bring home Alfonzo and make it 3-2.

Stewart followed by grounding into a double play which scored Davis and left FSU with two down and a man on third base. The Hatters opted to walk C Stephen McGee to put men on the corners and pitch to Seth Miller, who was replaced by John Nogowski for the at-bat. Griffin was able to induce a towering fly ball to right field from Nogowski.

Which was dropped.

Delph scored on the error, giving FSU a 4-3 lead, and McGee advanced to third. A wild pitch would score McGee the next batter before Stetson could escape the four run inning with just three outs to make up a two-run deficit.

It didn't happen.

Jameis Winston was lights out on Tuesday. After a 1-2-3 8th inning, he also worked a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his first win of the season.

“We pretty much made our minds up before the start of the game that we were going to give the ball to Jameis,” said Martin. “Today, he goes out; he doesn’t walk anybody, strikes out one and retires all six that he faced. It was a credit to him, a good performance by Jameis.”

FSU hosts Stetson for one more game tomorrow at 4 PM.

 

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

March 17, 2013

Seminoles Take Series with Terps After 4-3 Win

Florida State is on the road this weekend, FSU beat writer Patrik Nohe did not make the trip, the following is a press release from FSU:

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – No. 5 Florida State (18-1, 5-1 ACC) ran out to an early lead and then hung on for a 4-3 victory over Maryland (12-7, 2-4 ACC) on an overcast and chilly Sunday afternoon inside Turtle Smith Stadium.

After dropping the series opener to the Terrapins on Friday, the Seminoles responded with back-to-back one-run victories to secure the series win and captured their 22nd consecutive series victory over Maryland as FSU has never lost a series to the Terps since joining the ACC in 1992. Florida State improved to 3-0 in one-run games this year.

“It was really, really huge,” said head coach Mike Martin on the Seminoles responding to take the final two games of the series. “It’s early and we are playing a very good Maryland team. We played two one-run games. Our guys really stayed tough. I was very proud of them this weekend.”

Seth Miller paced the Seminole offense on Sunday with three hits on a triple and a pair of singles as FSU out hit Maryland, 10-9, for the first time in the series. Jose Brizuela and Giovanny Alfonzo both registered two hits and drove in a run in the win.

Florida State grabbed the early lead in the rubber game scoring three runs in the top of the third. Miller opened the inning with a triple down the left field line and scored a batter later on Stewart’s RBI groundout to second. Back-to-back one-out walks to Stephen McGee and Marcus Davis would come back to haunt Maryland starter Jake Stinnett (1-2) as FSU put together consecutive two-out RBI singles by Brizuela and Alfonzo to plate a run.  Brizuela tried to score from first on Alfonzo’s hit to left center but the sophomore third baseman was thrown out at the plate for the final out of the inning.

Maryland responded with a run in the bottom of the inning to cut the deficit to 3-1.  Anthony Papio led off the inning with a triple off Seminole starter Peter Miller and scored a batter later on an RBI groundout to short off the bat of Jack Cleary.

FSU pushed its lead back to three with a run in the fourth to take a 4-1 advantage. The Seminoles loaded the bases with one out on a walk to Josh Delph, a single by Miller and a walk to DJ Stewart. McGee brought home Delph as he drew a walk with the bases loaded.  The inning would come to an end as Davis grounded into a double play. 

The Terrapins cut the deficit to 4-3 scoring twice in the fifth off Miller.  Cleary led off the inning with an infield single and advanced to third on Charlie White’s first hit of the series on a double to left. LaMonte Wade drove in Maryland’s second run of the game on a sac-fly to center and Kyle Convissar followed with an RBI single up the middle to score White.  A single to left by K.J. Hockaday ended the afternoon for Miller after 4.2 innings. 

Bryant Holtmann came on and got Kevin Martir to fly out to Delph in right to retire the side.

Miller did not factor into the decision on Sunday as the junior right hander gave up three runs on six hits as he walked one and struck out four.  The run Miller allowed in the third ended his consecutive shutout streak at 19.0 innings. 

“Our pitching staff did a great job today under these really tough conditions,” added Martin. “Peter got us off to a good start. Bryant Holtmann, Jameis Winston, Gage Smith and Robby Coles all did a tremendous job in relief today to lead us to victory.”

Neither team would generate a run the rest of the game as the relief pitching on both sides was outstanding. Holtmann, Jameis Winston, Gage Smith and Robby Coles combined to work 4.1 scoreless innings allowing just three hits, two walks and five strikeouts.

For Maryland, Jamie Pashuck, Jared Price and Kevin Mooney put together 5.2 scoreless innings giving up four hits and four walks while recording five strikeouts.

The two teams combined to leave 28 runners on base including a season-high 17 by the Seminoles.

“You have to credit Maryland,” added Martin. “They did a good job of making pitches when they had to; I knew we had left some runs on, but didn’t know we left 17.”

Holtmann (1-0) picked up the win as he worked a career-high 2.1 innings allowing just one hit and one walk. He struck out one in the 10 batters that he faced.

Both Smith and Coles pitched in all three games this weekend as Smith relieved Winston and pitched Florida State out of a jam in the eighth.  With Winston on the hill to start the inning, the first two Maryland batters reached on a single and a walk. After a pitching change brought Smith to the mound, Cleary moved the runners 90 feet on a sac-bunt.  The Seminole side arm reliever then got Jose Cuas to hit a groundball to third. Brizuela quickly fired to McGee at the plate who threw back to Alfonzo covering the bag at third who tagged out Blake Schmit who over slid the bag for the second out. Smith closed out the inning as he got White looking at a called third strike to retire the side.

Coles pitched the ninth and worked around a one out hit as he struck out the side to earn his fourth save in as many chances this year. 

With the win, Florida State improved to 66-6 all-time against Maryland and 30-9 all-time when playing on St. Patrick’s Day. 

 

March 16, 2013

Florida State Evens Series with Maryland

Florida State is on the road this weekend, FSU beat writer Patrik Nohe did not make the trip, the following is a press release from FSU:

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – No. 5 Florida State (17-1, 4-1 ACC) overcame three errors and an early three-run deficit to even the series against Maryland (12-6, 2-3 ACC) with a 7-6 victory Saturday afternoon inside Turtle Smith Stadium.

Trailing 4-1 after the first three innings in game two, the Seminoles rallied for two runs in the fourth and four more in the sixth to take a 7-4. But an error by Florida State in the seventh and ninth innings led to a run in each inning opening the door for an exciting finish. 

With Florida State ahead 7-5 entering the bottom of the ninth and Robby Coles on the mound looking for the save, Maryland quickly made noise putting the first two batters on following a single by Kyle Convissar and a walk to Kevin Martir. The Seminoles recorded their first out of the inning on a tough play by Giovanny Alfonzo, who made a nice play in the hole at short to field a groundball and throw out the runner at second. Coles then got Michael Montville to line out softly to Alfonzo for the second out.  With runners still at the corners, pinch hitter Greg Olenski sent a sharp groundball to short that Alfonzo could not field cleanly allowing Convissar to score to keep the inning alive as the FSU lead dwindled to 7-6.  But Coles responded and got the final out of the game to earn his third save of the season as Anthony Papio grounded out to John Sansone at second to end the game. 

“It was a good win for us,” said head coach Mike Martin. “I was very pleased with the composure that we showed there at the end.  It was a fun game; that’s what baseball is about, these are the types of games that are played every night in the Major Leagues, one-run ball games. Robby Coles did a great job of keeping the ball down to get the groundballs. We gave them a couple of extra chances, but he kept his poise and kept battling. He is a very impressive guy.”

The win for FSU snapped Maryland’s two-game win streak in the series while it marked the Terrapins first loss at home this year in 11 games (10-1).

“It showed great character on our part,” said Sansone. “It’s not easy to come to an away place, lose a game and then bounce back for a win especially after trailing early in the game.”

Maryland out hit Florida State for the second straight game as the Terps finished with an 11-10 edge on Saturday. All three Seminole errors proved costly in game two as five of the six runs that were scored by the Terrapins were unearned. 

Scott Sitz (4-0) remained perfect on the year as the senior right hander allowed five runs, one earned, on a career-high 10 hits as he walked two and struck out three.  The only earned run allowed by Sitz came in the third inning when Blake Schmit reached on a two-out infield single and scored on an RBI triple by Montville. 

“We came out and got a run in the first inning which is always nice to get on the board first,” said Sitz. “But as a team, overall, we fought and just kept battling out there.”

Sitz, who threw 100 pitches on Saturday, had problems all afternoon closing out an inning as the Jacksonville Beach, Fla., native did not retire the side in order through his 6.2 innings recording the first two outs in an inning four times.

“I am thankful for the hitter’s today for having my back,” added Sitz. “I didn’t have my best stuff today. I was telling Steven (McGee) in the dugout, ‘I am going to have an inning where I don’t let a guy on.’ And somehow I kept letting a guy on.  That’s mostly because I didn’t have any of my off speed stuff working today. I probably threw 90 percent fastballs. I just couldn’t figure my off speed stuff. Luckily I was able to get out of some jams when I needed to.”

Stephen McGee continued to swing a hot bat as the junior catcher finished with two hits including a solo home run which sparked the four-run sixth inning.  John Nogowski went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. 

Jose Brizuela and Sansone both drove in two runs to pace the Seminole offense in the win. Brizuela connected on a two-out, two-run double in the fourth to cut Maryland’s lead to 4-3.  Then in the sixth, Sansone came through with what turned out to be the game-winning hit as the freshman second baseman laced a two-run single to left center to give FSU a 7-4 lead.

“First pitch he threw a high fastball and then a low slider,” said Sansone. “On the next pitch, he threw one right down the middle and I was able to put a good swing on it.  It felt great to finally get a hit and help my team out.”

For the second time in as many games, the Seminoles ran out to the early lead plating a run in the top of the first to grab a 1-0 lead. Seth Miller registered his first triple of the season hitting a ball off the wall in right and scored a batter later on a sac-fly to left off the bat of DJ Stewart.

Maryland looked to answer right back in the bottom of the inning as the Terps put the first two runners on base off Sitz on a hit-by-pitch and a walk.  But the Seminole right hander got K.J. Hockaday to ground into a double play at short and then Convissar to hit a grounder to Alfonzo at short to retire the side.

The Terps took advantage of a crucial throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt in the bottom of second to score three unearned runs to take a 3-1 lead.   Papio tied the game at one with an RBI bunt single to first with the bases loaded. Maryland grabbed the lead with a sac-fly to right and LaMonte Wade followed with a two-out RBI single to left.

Maryland added to its lead in the third on a two-out RBI triple by Montville. With Schmit on first after an infield single to short, Montville stepped in and on the second offering from Sitz sent a long fly ball to the gap in right center that fell just beyond the out stretched arms of Josh Delph in right. Schmit scored to give Maryland a 4-1 lead.

The Noles cut the deficit to 4-3 on a key two-out double by Brizuela to plate a pair in the top of the fourth. Marcus Davis began the two-out rally drawing a four-pitch walk and moved to second on a single up the middle by Nogowski.  After a meeting at the mound by the Terrapins, Brizuela stepped in and took the first pitch he saw from Kirkpatrick to the opposite field just inside the left field foul line for a two-run double.

Maryland looked to add to its lead in the fifth putting runners at the corners with one out.  Montville tried a safety squeeze but his bunt attempt went right back to the mound where Sitz fielded the ball cleanly and threw on to McGee at the plate to get Convissar for the second out of the inning. Sitz kept the Maryland lead at 4-3 as he got Jose Cuas to groundout to first to end the inning.

Florida State erupted for four runs in the top of the sixth to retake the lead for good at 7-4.  McGee led off the inning with a solo shot to left depositing a 3-2 offering from Kirkpatrick out of the park to left for his third home run of the season. Davis and Nogowski followed with back-to-back doubles with both going down the line in right as Nogowski’s drove in Davis to give FSU a one-run lead.  That would be the final pitch for Kirkpatrick as Maryland went to the bullpen and brought on Robert Galligan, who issued a four pitch walk to Brizuela.

For the second time in the inning, Maryland went to the pen and brought on Brandon Casas. After getting Alfonzo to fly out to right, a wild pitch by Casas moved both runners 90 feet.  With the Maryland infield drawn in, Sansone laced a base hit to left center to plate a pair and give FSU a 7-4 lead.

“To get down by three and to stay tough, I was very pleased with the effort of our guys today,” added Martin.

Maryland cut into the Florida State lead in the seventh taking advantage of the Seminoles second error of the game. Sitz recorded the first two outs of the inning before the Terps strung together an infield single by Schmit and a double down the line in left by Montville.

At 100 pitches that would be the final batter for Sitz as Martin brought in Gage Smith. On the very first offering to Cuas, the Maryland second baseman hit a groundball to Alfonzo at short who threw high over to first allowing Schmit to score and make the score 7-5 in favor of FSU. That would be the only run for Maryland in the inning as Papio sent a deep fly ball to left but Davis was there for the catch to make the third out of the inning.

Kyle Bird worked a perfect eighth inning as the sophomore southpaw turned in the only 1-2-3 inning by a Seminole pitcher on Saturday.  Bird registered a groundout, fly out and strikeout on 11 pitches.

Maryland’s Kirkpatrick (2-3) suffered the loss on Saturday as he allowed six runs on seven hits in 5.0 innings of work.

 

March 15, 2013

Seminoles Drop First Game of the Season to Maryland

Florida State is on the road this weekend, FSU beat writer Patrik Nohe did not make the trip, the following is a press release from FSU:

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – It wasn’t the start to the weekend that No. 5 Florida State (16-1, 3-1 ACC) was looking for as the Seminoles fell to Maryland (12-5, 2-2 ACC), 5-3, Friday night inside Turtle Smith Stadium. The loss was the first of the season for the Seminoles snapping their 16-game win streak to open the 2013 campaign.

Florida State led 2-1 until the sixth when the Terrapins scored twice to take their first lead of the game.  The Seminoles tied the game at three in the eighth only to see Maryland responded with two more runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead for good at 5-3.

Maryland rode the arm of starter Jimmy Reed (3-1), who worked 8.0 strong innings allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits as he walked three, hit three batters and struck out one.  Reed finished the game throwing 117 pitches as he kept the Terps undefeated at home this year running their record to 10-0. 

“I thought Reed did a very good job,” said head coach Mike Martin. “He really controlled the game. Maryland put a lot of pressure on us all night long. I thought that we battled very well when we were behind. You just have to move to tomorrow.”

Stephen McGee registered three of FSU’s season-low five hits on the evening as the junior catcher went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles, a single, one run and an RBI.  Josh Delph was 1-for-3 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch, while Jose Brizuela picked up an RBI single and drew a walk.

Maryland’s Jordan Hagel led the Terps with three hits and three runs scored, while Kyle Convissar drove in three runs.

FSU starter Brandon Leibrandt did not factor into the decision Friday night as the sophomore southpaw allowed three runs on five hits in 5.1 innings as he walked two and struck out a pair.

Brandon Johnson (1-1) suffered the loss as the junior left hander gave up the go-ahead run in the eighth.  Johnson threw just five pitches and faced two batters in 0.1 inning of work.

For the second straight game, McGee gave the Seminoles the lead in the first inning as he roped a two-out, RBI double down the line in left to score Delph from second and give FSU an early 1-0 lead.  Two pitches into the game, Delph reached as he was hit on the leg by Reed.  After a groundout by Marcus Davis moved Delph to second, McGee came through with FSU’s first hit of the game connecting on his sixth double of the season.

The lead was short lived as Maryland answered with a run in the bottom of the first to tie the game one.  Hagel laced a one-out double to right, stole third and scored two batters later on a groundout to third by Convissar.

The Noles regained the lead in the top of the third taking advantage of a Maryland error to move back ahead at 2-1.  John Sansone led off the inning reaching on a throwing error at third and moved to second on an infield single by Delph. Brett Knief moved both runners 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt and after a 10 pitch at-bat by Davis, the junior designated hitter brought home Sansone on a sac-fly to right center.  With runners at the corners and two outs, DJ Stewart looked to add to the Florida State lead, but Maryland shortstop Blake Schmit made an outstanding play on a groundball up the middle to throw out Stewart at first to retire the side.

Maryland took its first lead of the evening in the bottom of the sixth on a two-run single by Convissar.  The Terps put two runners on off Leibrandt following a single by Hagel and a walk to KJ Hockaday leading to a Seminole pitching change.  Gage Smith entered and on the second pitch of the at-bat the Terps successfully pulled off a double steal.  In a battle at the plate with Convissar and the infield drawn in, the Terrapin second baseman lofted a base hit to center to score two and give Maryland a 3-2 advantage.

Florida State tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the eighth on a two-out, RBI single by Brizuela. McGee got things going in the inning with his third hit of the game on a single to left and then moved to second when Stewart was hit by a pitch.  After Reed got John Nogowski to pop up to short, Brizuela followed with a single through the right side on the very next pitch to bring home McGee for the tying run.

“That’s what was so encouraging,” added Martin on his team battling back to tie the game late. “The way we continued to fight when things were not going our way. But yet we didn’t feel sorry for ourselves. We kept fighting and had a chance to do something more in the eighth but of course you have to credit the Terrapins. They did a good job of getting it done.”

But the Terrapins responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning to retake the lead for good. Hagel led off the inning with a triple down the line in right off Johnson. A pitching change brought in Robby Coles and after walking the first batter that he faced on four pitches, the junior right hander responded with a big strikeout of Convissar for the first out of the inning.  Two pitches later, Coles unleashed a wild pitch to allow Hagel to score the go-ahead run.  LaMonte Wade then stepped in and laced an RBI double off the wall in right to give Maryland a 5-3 lead. 

Billy Strode entered to get the final two outs in the eighth to retire the side.

Kevin Mooney came in to pitch the ninth and retired the side in order to earn his first save of the season.

 

March 14, 2013

Seminoles Start ACC Tourney with Tight Win Over Clemson

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Florida State kept their postseason pulse alive on Thursday night with a nailbiting 73-69 win over Clemson.

It wasn't pretty, it didn't exactly smack of dominance, but the Seminoles got what they needed against the Tigers. They simply needed a win and despite struggling for the first 38 minutes against Clemson, the bow finally broke late and the Seminoles were able to keep their postseason hopes alive.

You can read the recap here

Florida State got some big performances from some key veterans to help them pull this game out. Perhaps the biggest impact was had by Terrance Shannon. Shannon scored 12, but his presence has been sorely missed over the past month or so and the fact he was able to contribute good, physical minutes under the basket was a major plus for the Seminoles.

Of course the biggest impact was the one made by Okaro White. White picked a good time to go for a career high 24 points. Throughout the game White was making his case for why he will be one of the most dynamic players in the ACC come next season. White has improved statistically in each of his first three seasons and really learned to use his length and athleticism to his advantage this past offseason. That was on full display against the Tigers Thursday night and with another year in the gym, White could be one of the top seniors in all of college basketball come next season. 

For as much as White shouldered the offensive load for the Seminoles, it was Michael Snaer who continued to hit key free throws as the officials took the game over down the stretch. 

It's never a good sign when both teams are in the double bonus with around seven minutes to go in the game. In the crucial moments on Thursday night it was free throws that proved decisive more so than, you know, players actually playing basketball. Some questionable officiating quickly erased a double-digit Florida State lead late in the second half and put Clemson within a score in the final seconds.

That was where Snaer stepped in and delivered in the clutch. Snaer only had ten points, but he was 4/4 from the charity stripe and they all came in the final seconds of the game when FSU had to have them.

When the final buzzer sounded it was 73-69 and the Seminoles had the Tar Heels of UNC waiting for them in round two.

Now the Seminoles' margin for error decreases substantially though. With North Carolina on deck and two more rounds beyond that game, Florida State needs to play its best basketball to have any prayer of sneaking into the NCAA tourney by winning their conference tournament. They have a puncher's chance, but still not a good one. 

But for tonight, the Seminoles stay alive.

They play UNC tomorrow at 9 PM.

 

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

March 13, 2013

FSU SS Justin Gonzalez Done for the Season

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Florida State head baseball coach Mike Martin got some sad news on Wednesday, shortstop Justin Gonzalez– who opted to return for his senior season rather than go pro– will miss the rest of 2013 after undergoing surgery on his hip.

“To lose Justin Gonzalez, a three-year starter and our captain is obviously a difficult pill to swallow,” said Martin. “But knowing that Justin will be there for his teammates is an inspiration and is gratifying to me as a coach.

“I am deeply saddened that he will not be on the field but I am very grateful to have him in our presence for the rest of the season.”

Giovanny Alfonzo will replace Gonzalez at short for the remainder of the season. Alfonzo is hitting .250 so far this season with 8 RBI's. It will be hard to completely replace the experience and hitting that Gonzalez would have provided though. He already had two home runs and five runs driven in through the five games he appeared in this season.

“Obviously, none of this was planned,” said Gonzalez. “It breaks my heart that I had to go through with the surgery. After meeting with doctors out in Colorado, there was no other option than to have the surgery.

“As far as baseball is concerned, I had to look at the long-term rather than the short-term. I will still serve as captain this year but it will just be in a different role.  I plan on being there to motivate and support my teammates throughout the season. There is one thing I know, I will be back; it will only be a matter of time.”

If Marcus Davis weren't such a revelation in the Seminole lineup, FSU could really be in trouble as a result of this loss. But with Davis and DJ Stewart hitting well, and with the growth of other players on the roster, Florida State should be able to weather this injury. 

The Seminoles will seek a medical redshirt for Gonzalez who would like to return in 2014.

 

For more Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

March 12, 2013

Seminoles Knock Off Gators 4-1 in Gainesville

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Florida State beat writer Patrik Nohe was off Tuesday, the following is an official press release from Florida State University:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – No. 5 Florida State (16-0) passed its first road test of the season defeating Florida (8-10) 4-1 Tuesday night inside McKethan Stadium. The win snapped a three-game losing streak to the Gators, while it marked the Seminoles first win in Gainesville since 2007. 

“When you look at the game, you start with pitching; there is no question that was the difference in the game,” said head coach Mike Martin. “(Luke) Weaver had a great outing. We had him on a pitch count. He was really impressive with three pitches, his fastball to location. It was really one of his better outings especially under these conditions.”

Luke Weaver (3-0) turned in another outstanding performance on the hill for the Garnet & Gold as the sophomore right hander held the Gators to just one run on three hits in 6.1 innings of work. The lone Florida run came in the fourth inning following the only Seminole error of the game. Weaver finished with two walks and five strikeouts as he left the game after throwing 102 pitches.

“It definitely is awesome,” said Weaver on earning his first career win against UF. “It was a great outing. I wouldn’t say I was perfect as I had some weird things going on during the game, but overall I felt good and was just trying to get some zeros on the board. I was spotting with the change-up and that was probably my primary, count on pitch tonight.”

Gage Smith, Bryant Holtmann and Robby Coles combined to work the final 2.2 innings holding the Gators to just two hits while striking out two.  Coles recorded the last four outs of the game to earn his second save of the season.

“Robby Coles was the one that was so impressive tonight,” added Martin. “For Robby to come in and do what he did, that’s so encouraging to us to see him grab the bull by the horns and get his team on the bus to go home.”

Giovanny Alfonzo paced the Seminole offense on Tuesday night with a pair of singles and two RBI.  He gave the Seminoles a three-run lead in the fourth on a two-run single down the line in right.

“Gio had some good at-bats,” said Martin. “Certainly the two-run single was huge. I’m seeing a young man become very comfortable with himself out there. I’m just very excited with the progress he is making.”

Josh Delph and Stephen McGee picked up a hit and an RBI, while Seth Miller, DJ Stewart and Jose Brizuela each registered a hit in the win.

“It was just a well-played ball game on both sides,” said Martin. “We had a chance to bust it open a couple of times, but you got to credit the University of Florida they did a great job of getting key outs.  What was really exciting is that we turned around and went right back out there and got them out.”

The Seminoles finished the game out hitting the Gators 7-5 as only one of the five hits registered by Florida left the infield. 

With the win, the Seminoles improved to 16-0 on the year and are off to the second best start in school history. In 2007, Florida State set the school record for the best start winning its first 23 games.  

Florida State grabbed the early lead on Tuesday courtesy of a two-out RBI double off the bat of McGee in the top of the first.  Delph led off the game with a single back up the middle off Gator starter Danny Young (0-1).  After a sacrifice bunt by Brett Knief moved Delph to second, Marcus Davis reached on fielder’s choice back to the mound.  Young fielded the groundball and got Delph in a rundown for the second out of the inning as Davis took second on the play. McGee followed with an RBI double, his fifth of the season, scoring Davis from second to give FSU a 1-0 lead.

The Gators recorded their first hit of the game off Weaver with two outs in the second when Vickash Ramjit singled back up the middle. But Weaver got Connor Mitchell to line out to Delph in right on the very next pitch to retire the side.

The Seminoles left two stranded in the third when John Sansone reached on a two-base fielding error by Ramjit at first and Knief was hit by a pitch. Young responded by recording back-to-back fly outs to keep FSU’s lead at 1-0. 

FSU extended its lead to 3-0 in the fourth on a two-run single by Alfonzo.  Stewart led off the inning with a single through the right side and John Nogowski followed with a walk. After a sac-bunt by Brizuela moved both runners 90 feet, Florida went to the bullpen and brought on Ryan Harris.  The Gator reliever quickly put Alfonzo in a 0-2 hole, but on the next pitch the sophomore shortstop laced a single down the line in right to score Stewart and Nogowski to give the Seminoles a three-run cushion.

“I was just trying to stay simple,” said Alfonzo. “The first two swings I took were really big. He came in with two fastballs and I was a little late, so I just tried to stay simple and hit a groundball to second base to bring in a run.  Luckily he left the pitch up and I hit it down the line.”

Florida responded with a run in the bottom of the fourth taking advantage of a Seminole error to cut the deficit to 3-1. With Harrison Bader on at third after leading off the inning with an infield single, Weaver looked to get out of the inning unharmed as Taylor Gushue hit a groundball to first.  But the Seminole pitcher took his eye off the underhand flip from Nogowski as he was covering the bag and the ball tipped off the top his glove allowing Bader to score the first and only Gator run of the game. 

Florida State pushed its lead back to three with a run in the sixth to take a 4-1 lead. The Seminoles loaded the bases off Harris on a hit-by-pitch to Nogowski, a single by Brizuela and a walk to Sansone.  On the first pitch to Delph, Harris hit the Seminole right fielder in the leg to plate Nogowski.

The Gators threatened in the bottom of the seventh but Smith came on in relief of Weaver and got two big outs with a pair of runners on base as FSU maintained its three-run lead.  Smith forced pinch hitter Christian Dicks into a fielder’s choice groundout at second and then got an outstanding defensive play by Alfonzo at short to throw out pinch hitter Kevin Stypulkowski at first on a slow groundball.

Holtmann entered in the eighth and faced four batters before leaving the game with some pain in his left shoulder. The sophomore southpaw registered two outs and gave up a pair of infield hits.

Coles replaced Holtmann on the mound and hit Gushue on his first offering.  The junior right hander would get out of the jam as he worked ahead of Ramjit and got the Gator third baseman to groundout to short to end the threat.

Coles returned to pitch the ninth and recorded the final three outs of the game on a groundout, a strikeout and a fly out to earn his second save of the season.

Florida State will return to ACC play this weekend as the Seminoles travel to face Maryland for a three-game series beginning Friday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. Saturday’s game is set for 1:30 p.m. and Sunday is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. first pitch.

March 10, 2013

Seminoles Start Season 15-0, Sweep BC

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Florida State beat writer Patrik Nohe was off on Sunday, the following is a press release from Florida State University:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 5 Florida State (15-0, 3-0 ACC) led from start to finish on Sunday afternoon in the series finale against Boston College (3-11, 0-3 ACC) to complete the sweep of the Eagles and remain undefeated on the year.

At 15-0, the Seminoles are off to their best start since 2007, when the Garnet & Gold opened the season with a school-record 23 straight wins.  This year’s record is tied for the second best start in school history equaling the start of the 1975 squad. 

The victory on Sunday also extended the Seminoles win streak when wearing their gold uniforms to 17 straight dating back to last year.  FSU is a perfect 5-0 in 2013.

“I think anytime you are able to win three games on the weekend in the Atlantic Coast Conference, you have to be extremely pleased,” said head coach Mike Martin. “I was today.”

For the third straight game, Florida State received another outstanding performance from its starting pitcher as Peter Miller (3-0) gave the Seminoles 5.2 shutout innings on Sunday.  The junior right hander scattered six hits and two walks while finishing the game with seven strikeouts. 

“I thought Peter Miller pitched 5.2 (innings) of very good baseball,” said Martin. “We got good relief out of Jameis and Brandon. They pitched very well.”

After recording two quick outs in the top of the first, BC strung together back-to-back bloop singles to put runners at the corners. Miller would respond by getting Chris Shaw to groundout to John Nogowski at first to retire the side. 

In the second, Joe Cronin looked to give BC its first lead of the series as he laced a double to the gap in right center with Matt McGovern on first after reaching on a fielder’s choice.  But an outstanding relay throw by DJ Stewart to John Sansone to Stephen McGee nailed the Boston College right fielder at the plate for the final out of the inning.

From the third to the sixth innings, Miller settled down retiring 10 of 11 BC hitters before the Eagles put together back-to-back base hits with one out in the sixth. Following a fly out and a walk to the next two batters that he faced, Miller would turn the ball over to Jameis Winston who got Nate LaPointe to ground into a force out at third with the bases loaded to retire the side.

Dating back to his second start of the season, Miller has put together a nice scoreless streak of his own as he has not allowed a run in the last 17.0 innings.  In fact, the Lutz, Fla., native has given up just four runs, two earned, in 19.1 innings in four starts this year. 

Coming off the big defensive play at the plate in the top of the second, Florida State responded with three runs to jump out to an early 3-0 lead off BC starter Andrew Chin (1-3).  Nogowski opened the scoring with an infield single to short and advanced to third on Brett Knief’s single to left.  Two pitches later, Jose Brizuela would bring them all home on a bizarre play.  The sophomore third baseman laced a single to left, but the ball somehow took a strange hop, got by the BC left fielder and rolled all the way to the wall.  Brizuela, who was credited with one RBI on the play, came all the way around to score on the three base fielding error by Logan Hoggarth in left.

FSU pushed its lead to 4-0 in the sixth when Knief ripped a ball back up the middle that caromed off the knee of Chin and into left field.  Knief was credited with a double on the play.  Chin came out of the game after that play but would walk off the field on his own power. 

With Nate Bayuk on the mound after replacing Chin, Brizuela would bring home Knief on an RBI single to center.

The Noles broke open a close game in the seventh scoring five runs including four on two outs to take a commanding 9-0 lead.  Josh Delph singled and scored on Stewart’s double to straight away center and Nogowski brought home a pair on a double down the left field line.  After a walk to Knief, Brizuela would clear the bases once again with a two-run triple to right center for his second three-bagger of the season.

Brizuela finished the afternoon tying career-highs for hits (3) and RBI (4), while Knief went 2-for-3 with three runs scored. 

“I was just glad that I could produce for the team,” said Brizuela. “It was a great accomplishment throughout the whole line-up this entire weekend.”

Nogowski was the only other Seminole to record multiple hits on Sunday as the sophomore first baseman finished the game 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI. 

Boston College scored its only run of the game in the eighth off Winston.  The freshman right hander gave up a double to Tom Bourdon, who finished with a game-high four hits, to lead-off the inning.  After a single and a walk loaded the bases with one out, LaPointe dropped a bloop single to short center to score Bourdon and make the score 9-1. 

Brandon Johnson came on in relief of Winston with the bases loaded and needed just one pitch to get out of the jam as he got McGovern to ground into an inning ending double play.

Both Winston and Johnson worked 1.2 innings in relief on Sunday.  Winston allowed a run on four hits and a walk, while Johnson gave up two hits to the six batters that he faced. 

“They are incredible,” added Brizuela on how well the pitching staff has done so far this season. “I am just happy that we have the guys that we have; they are just amazing.”

Florida State will return to action on Tuesday, March 12 for its first road game of the season as the Seminoles travel to face intra-state rival Florida.  First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. down in Gainesville.


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