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19 posts from June 2013

June 20, 2013

Kevin Haplea Done for the Season with Torn ACL


The news coming out of Tallahassee today isn't good for Florida State fans. Senior tight end Kevin Haplea has torn his ACL and will be forced to miss the entire 2013 season per head coach Jimbo Fisher.

“We learned this morning that Kevin had an ACL tear and out of respect to the Haplea family, waited to give their family time before we issued a statement. It’s unfortunate for Kevin. He had a great spring and was going to be a big part of our offense this season," said Fisher.

Haplea played in 13 games for the Seminoles last year, and had three receptions for 15 yards. He caught his first touchdown as a Seminole in the win at USF. Primarily a blocker, Haplea was integral in helping the Seminoles rack up school records with 40 rushing touchdowns and 6,591 yards in total offense.

He also played a big role in the Seminoles special teams.

“He’s a tough guy and extremely hard worker," said Fisher. "[He] will get through this and come back stronger. He’s an older and experienced guy that will just have another year, which will be good for the younger guys and our program.”

Christo Kourtzidis will likely be the beneficiary of extra playing time as a result of Haplea's injury. 

It has been a strange ride for the senior, he was at Penn State as recently as the Spring of 2012 but chose to transfer after the Joe Paterno/Jerry Sandusky scandal sent the program into probation. He avoided sitting out a year per the NCAA's ruling on Penn State transfers, but this injury will effectively redshirt him as a standard transfer would have done last year, anyway.

While this won't affect the passing game much at all, it could have a sizeable impact on run blocking. Nick O'Leary excels more as a pass-catcher and the other tight ends on the roster are inexperienced. 

Armed with a first-year starting quarterback, the Florida State rushing attack will be key next season.


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

June 12, 2013

Stephen McGee Says Goodbye to Florida State, Will Sign with Angels


As Mike Martin sat in front of the press last Sunday, still making sense of the Seminoles' Super Regional sweep at the hands of Indiana, he was asked a question about next year's team.

"Well, it's very hard when the draft just ended," said Marting glibly. 

Florida State had five players selected in the Major League draft this year, and after 34 years at the helm Martin has seen more than a few of his teams lose key components a year early to the Majors plenty of times.

Four juniors were selected this year, the highest being Stephen McGee who was drafted by the Angels in the 9th round. On Wednesday, the redshirt junior catcher announced his intentions to leave FSU early and sign a professional contract.

McGee has already earned his degree from Florida State, most expected he would turn pro when he was selected.

In his career at Florida State, McGee hit .261, drove in 97 runs and homered 9 times. He truly came on this year when asked to provide leadership to an extremely young Seminole team. This season he hit .286 with and OBP of .449. He also drove in 52 runs and all nine of his career home runs came in 2013. With McGee in the middle of the Seminole lineup, FSU was able to win the Atlantic Division of the ACC, sweep through their Regional and host the sixth consecutive Super Regional at Florida State despite having lost six players to the 2012 Draft off their CWS team.

Behind the plate McGee helped FSU's pitching staff to the second lowest regular season ERA in Mike Martin's tenure as manager– 2.73

McGee was the 277th overall pick. Florida State has three other juniors, Peter Miller, Marcus Davis and Robby Coles, that were also drafted.


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

(Photo courtesy of Ryan Syrkus)

June 11, 2013

Matthew Thomas Headed to FSU per Warchant Report


Back in February on National Signing Day one of the very first commitments televised on ESPN was that of Booker T. Washington's Matthew Thomas. The 6-3 outside linebacker donned a Florida State cap and did a tomahawk chop, later that day he faxed in his letter of intent. Everything seemed fine.

And then it wasn't. Thomas later told the Miami Herald that he had never intended to make that decision.

“I’ve told [FSU] it’s nothing personal. I just didn’t make the decision I really wanted to on Signing Day,” Thomas told Manny Navarro.

“What happened was on Signing Day [was] I wasn’t sure who I wanted to sign with. I had issues with different schools. But when I told my mom I didn’t want to sign with anybody and wait and give it a few days she said I couldn’t do that. She said, ‘FSU is a good school – pick them. It’s close to home.’ I wasn’t agreeing with it. But I felt like I was being disrespectful to her if I didn’t sign. So I made her happy.”

Later reports would emerge with quotes from Thomas' father, Billy,indicating his desire to attend USC. As late as this morning an LA Times report still had the talented young linebacker pining to be a Trojan.

Not anymore, apparently.

"After meeting with coach Fisher and his staff and gathering all the information I have decided to honor my commitment to Florida State," Thomas said in a statement released to Warchant.com. "I also want to be close to my family and I want be part of what they are building at Florida State. I'm looking forward to winning games at Florida State and building towards my future."

Florida State's incoming freshman class is expected to report by this Saturday and Thomas apparently will be among them.

This comes as especially good news given Florida State's depth issues at the position. I can't imagine it hurt FSU's chances when Fisher and staff reminded Thomas of his potential to start immediately. The thing that probably helped Thomas decide most was that Fisher likely told him in no uncertain terms that he would not get a release. After Notre Dame put their foot down in a similar situation, Fisher and Florida State didn't even need to worry about looking like the bad guy in this one.

The precedent was already set. And it's important that Florida State not give other schools the impression that they can continue recruiting FSU's commitments until they report. Thomas likely didn't want to lose a year and figured it would be better if he just headed to Tallahassee.

We'll know for sure this is over when he reports Saturday, but for now, it seems resolved.


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

What's Going on with Florida State's Athletic Department?


Florida State University introduced their interim Athletic Director to the media on Tuesday morning. Vanessa Fuchs took over for Randy Spetman in the middle of last week and will be serving in an interim capacity until President Barron and the Florida State University search committee find the university's next AD.

"I am extremely honored and excited to have to opportunity to lead the Florida State athletics department," said Fuchs in her initial statement. "I want to thank President Barron for the support and confidence, I also want to recognize Randy Spetman for his passion and the commitment he’s shown to all of our sports programs and student athletes.”

Fuchs was a basketball player at Florida State from 1997-2001, she played under Sue Semrau and served as a captain before taking a job at the ACC offices after college. She returned to Florida State in 2010 and most recently headed up the school's compliance office. 

As of June 5, 2013 she became one of just seven female AD's in Division I and the first female to head up FSU's athletic department in school history.

“I don’t know that it’s fully sunk in even now," said Fuchs. "It hasn’t even quite been a full week. It’s been very excited, it’s been mixed emotions too. Obviously we all loved Randy.”

And this is where the timeline and order of events leading up to last week's decision to remove Spetman as AD, appoint an interim director and then begin an AD search become a little confusing. This is where, despite statements from those in FSU's Athletic Department, it doesn't appear to have been handled all that delicately.

Spetman's contract ran until February 2014. But last Wednesday– the day before Spetman was set to present a five-year plan to the Board of Trustees– the decision to remove him was made.

"I was in Indianapolis for a rules seminar up there and I got a call from President Barron at about one o’clock on Wednesday," said Fuchs. "This wasn’t something that he and I had talked about previously, it was a little bit of a surprise.”

“These circumstances, I wasn’t fully prepared for that, I guess.”

No kidding. Nobody was, and I bet that includes Spetman who has been unavailable for comment ever since he was replaced. FSU had already distributed the plan to the media and reporters were preparing to attend the BoT meeting to cover Spetman's presentation. Then just 24 hours before presenting his vision to the board Spetman was out, the agenda item was no longer listed and the five-year plan was more or less scrapped.

Spetman's long-term future at FSU has been in doubt since he was given a one-year extension with no raise last football season. That never bodes well for anyone. But the impression given by those in the Florida State Athletic department was that this transition was always part of the plan and it was done with deliberation and precision– at the right time.

That notion is contradicted by a few key elements of this turnover though. First, Randy Spetman was on the Board of Trustees' agenda just 24 hours ahead of the meeting, up until the middle of Wednesday he was still scheduled to present a fairly large long-term plan for FSU's Athletic Department and was even scheduled to field questions afterward. 

Why even go through the motions of scheduling it and sending the plan to the press if it was never going to be presented. 

"Just even the notion of presenting a strategic plan that you're not going to implement– that doesn't make sense," said President Barron after Thursday's BoT meeting."

Fair point, but the timing of replacing Spetman and pulling the presentation off the agenda lends itself to the perception that FSU only realized it didn't make sense this past Wednesday.

Then there's the fact that the person being promoted to interim AD wasn't even in the same state and had no idea it was coming.

“In athletics you’re told you’ve got to be prepared for anything and this is one of those moments,” Fuchs said on Tuesday.

That's a good philosophy to live by, but it hardly makes this move seem premeditated.

So what was Fuchs told to expect in her position as the interim AD? Heck, how long will she even be in the role?

"I don’t know that that’s known," said Fuchs of the timeable. "I’m prepared to serve as long as that takes and work with our staff for as long as this interim period takes. But obviously the timing of this was just prior to the board of trustees meetings, so the President Thursday and Friday was attending those. We had a great meeting [Monday] and this is a priority now that these meetings have concluded. That this is now something he’s moving quickly on and it’s a priority for him to identify our next AD."

"I think he’s given us a very clear charge as to what he expects for us over this time period whether it’s three months, six months or a year."

Right now Florida State is yet to even form a search committee for the school's next AD.

Fuchs is certainly capable of running the program in the interim. In her last role, Fuchs worked closely with all of FSU's different sports programs to ensure compliance to NCAA rules. Under her direction, Florida State's football team got off of its probationary period this past season. 

So what is expected in her new role?

"The first priority was meeting with the staff and coaches and reassuring them that we’re not in a holding pattern here," said Fuchs. "We’re going to continue moving forward and advancing.”

Technically, without a long-term plan that's still a holding pattern. But the issue at Florida State is hardly Fuchs, if not at FSU she was already on track to become an Athletic Director somewhere, she is not wanting for qualifications. She is a solid choice.

The issue is how this was planned, when it was decided and how it was executed. If this was indeed meticulously planned and executed, it certainly doesn't look that way. And regardless of whether it was or not, will their AD search in the coming months be handled more delicately than the transition from Spetman?

Time will tell.


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

June 10, 2013

Greg Dent Arrested, Charged with Sexual Assault


Just hours after Florida State's baseball season ended Seminole fans were greeted with more bad news last night when WR Greg Dent was arrested by local police for sexual assault.

This broke last night but without Dent being formally charged, and given the serious nature of the allegations, it wasn't prudent to run with a speculative article before he had even been formally arraigned.

As of this morning though, Dent has now been arraigned and charged with second degree sexual assault.

Per the probable cause affadavit, Dent was out with a long-time friend (one that he has known since they were both in high school) at a club on Saturday night and after returning to his apartment early Sunday morning, allegedly forced himself on her.

Last night the buzz-phrase that was repeated every time the arrest was mentioned was "person over the age of 12." That gives the impression that the victim was a minor.

That is wrong, that's the wording the state of Florida has chosen to go with when they wrote the laws, but in this case the female party was over the age of 18. There is no statutory rape angle to this, age is not the issue, this is alleged to be a sexual battery without serious bodily injury or a second degree sexual assault.

This morning Dent made his first appearane in court after being arrested last night around 7:10 PM. He was charged and his bond was placed at 15,000 dollars. He posted bail and was released at 2:09 PM from the Leon County Jail.

He is to have no contact with the victim.

From the arrest report, the incident occured in the early hours of Sunday morning at approximately 3:30 AM. After a night out with a group of friends, the two returned to Dent's apartment where the assault allegedly took place.

After allegedly attempting to kiss the victim several times and being told "no," she bit him on the lip and he left the room momentarily. Per her statement he then returned to the bed naked and attempted to force himself on her, she alleges he pulled her shorts and panties off and briefly penetrated her before she fought him off, grabbed her clothes and ran outside. She contacted police shortly after and Dent was arrested on Sunday evening after agreeing to meet with the Leon County Sherriff's Office.

Here's where it starts to get dicey for Dent, per Florida State law the statement he gave after being advised of his Miranda rights was redacted in the arrest report. There are two paragraphs of redactions though. Without knowing what he said, at first glance two paragraphs or redacted post-miranda statements doesn't look good. Especially when you consider on the page that lists reasons for the redacted information, box 119.107(2)(e) is checked. That means it was a redaction of "substance of a confession by a person arrested."

While that's not a smoking gun, it's definitely not a good thing to see at the top of the probable cause affadavit either.

Tim Jansen, who is FSU's go-to attorney, will be handling this for Dent. In the interim, per FSU's rules any student athlete charged with a felony cannot participate in team activities while that charge is pending so Dent is currently suspended indefinitely. Dent has no criminal history prior to these charges.

Dent has not been convicted yet, nor has he even been allowed to offer a formal defense. At this point he has been charged with an alleged sexual assault and over the coming weeks and months the courts will determine his guilt.

Update: Jimbo Fisher and FSU released the following statement at 6:30 PM:

“We are aware of the situation with Greg Dent. He's suspended indefinitely from all team activities as we let the legal process run its course.” 


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

June 09, 2013

Five Seminoles Selected in MLB Draft, Now Decisions Loom...


The MLB draft has come and gone. Unlike their much shorter counterparts in the NBA, NHL and NFL, the Major League's draft goes on for 40 rounds and over 1,200 players are selected. If that sounds mind-numbing it's because it is.

That's why it's not a major TV draw. NFL fans' eyes begin to glaze over after the third round, I'm still not convinced anyone south of the US/Canadian border watches the hockey draft and basketball's two rounds seems light but even that gets dull before they can get to the final pick.

The MLB draft is on TV, sure. Now that the league has it's own cable channel they televise part of it. Part. Even they don't think anyone would actually want to sit through that. They showed the first 73 picks this year (two regular rounds and two supplemental ones).

I'll give you that first round as a mulligan for indulging your curiosity, I'll even toss in the supplemental one for the sake of courtesy. But let's be honest, if that was appointment viewing for you and you're no relation to someone hoping to get picked, it may be time to step back, take a look at your life and then reassess some things.

All kidding aside though, while the MLB Draft doesn't have the same glitz and TV production of the other three, that doesn't make getting the call any less significant for those lucky enough to receive it. By the time the draft concluded yesterday five Florida State Seminoles had received calls from major league teams.

Now four of them have decisions to make. 

Stephen McGee was the highest drafted player at Florida State this year. He was the 277th overall selection and went in the 9th round to the Angels where someday he may once again play with Sherman Johnson, who was picked by the Angels last year in round 14.

“I am just ecstatic," said McGee. "I can’t really explain it. This is the first time that I have been drafted. It’s awesome; it’s a dream come true.”

The first chance for a guy to be drafted by the major leagues is at the end of his senior year in high school. If he doesn't sign, depending on where he goes to play next he can either be eligible year to year at a community college or after his junior year (or when he turns 21) at a four-year college or university. 

Some players get drafted as many as three or four times. Others have to work their tail off just to get picked once. A perfect example of that played out last year in the 2012 draft when two completely opposite ends of that spectrum were picked within about an hour of one another.

Sherman Johnson finally got drafted after putting in four years of hard work at Florida State and improving his stock enough to make it into the 14th round as a senior. He was thrilled to go at that pick. About an hour later in the next round the Texas Rangers selected an 18 year-old from Alabama named Jameis Winston who had the luxury of not even considering an offer unless he was taken in the first four or five rounds.

Winston could probably quit baseball after this season and still get picked again in a couple of years just because someone will be willing to take a flyer on him for his athleticism.

But they don't make many like Jameis. It doesn't come that naturally to most and the draft is the culmination of a lot of hard work to even make it that far.

I'm a little surprised McGee hadn't made it that far already. He had a solid season as a redshirt sophomore in 2012, but it wouldn't necessarily stick out at you on a stat sheet if you didn't watch him play. Thing is, a lot of scouts did watch him play. FSU had seven players drafted off last season's team, Major League scouts spent plenty of time watching the Seminoles. The fact nobody wanted to take a shot on him in the later rounds is a little surprising.

McGee made sure he passed the paper test this year though, improving his average by 64 points to .294, hitting nine home runs, driving in 51 runs and posting a .458 OBP. Coupled with his leadership and his typically steady defensive play, it wasn't a matter of 'if' but rather 'when' for McGee this year.

Of the seven players drafted off last year's team, six signed. That seventh player though, he could be why the four juniors weighing decisions about turning pro after this year's draft could feel compelled to make the leap.

McGee and Peter Miller played with Justin Gonzalez last season, Marcus Davis and Robby Coles were new this Fall but got to know Gonzalez and shared the field with him briefly at the start of the season. 

After getting picked in the 27th round by the Dodgers last year, Gonzalez decided to come back to Florida State for his senior year hoping to improve his draft stock and win one for #11. He got hurt in the fifth game and missed the rest of the season after hip surgery.

He was not drafted this time around.

In some ways he became the Spring's Brandon Jenkins. Which is to say, he became the cautionary tale about not taking opportunities for granted. Watching Jenkins drop from a hot prospect in the NFL draft class as a junior to the end of the 5th round as a senior was admittedly a factor in Bjoern Werner's decision to forgo his final year and go pro early.

Gonzalez's injury could work in a similar way, only at the other end of the draft. Rather than watching a guy slide from the upper portion of the class to a late pick, Gonzalez's teammates saw a late-round pick come back and potentially lose his shot at the Majors completely. It's a message that could resonate with all four of the juniors who will be making that same decision in the coming weeks.

Peter Miller was picked in the 16th round (484) by the Dodgers.

“It’s exciting [to be drafted]. It’s been a long journey," said Miller. "I am definitely excited but I’m just trying to focus on finishing this year off first before I even worry about the draft. It was just a complete surprise to be selected by the Dodgers.”

Marcus Davis was equally happy just to have been picked when he went eight rounds later in the 24th round (718) to the Padres: “I was happy to see my name come across the screen. I’m grateful for the opportunity. I just want to thank the Padres for giving me this opportunity, so we will see what happens. But there is still some work to be done in Tallahassee.”

Robby Coles was taken 836th by the Mets, that's in the 28th round. Like Davis, McGee and Miller, he was just thrilled somebody finally took him.

“I am just happy to have this opportunity. I’ve been in contact with the organization so it wasn’t a surprise that they picked me," said Coles. "To be honest, I was more surprised just to be drafted [at all] because it is such a big thing.”

While it's easy for fans to point out that a couple of those guys could improve their draft stock by returning for another season in Garnet and Gold, having watched Justin Gonzalez go from a player with a Major League offer to a guy without one might be tough to shake.

Seeing all of that play out up close could affect the decisions of all four juniors and remind them not to gamble given just how quickly you can fall off the radar. While you could come back for one last run at glory to try and help Mike Martin hoist his first title (provided they don't check that off the list this year), you've got just as good a chance to get hurt and miss getting drafted completely. 

It's a big chance to take.

Scott Sitz won't be stuck deciding between FSU and the pros, he was one of only three seniors on the team (along with Gonzalez and Seth Miller). He was also the only senior to be drafted. Sitz was picked by the Detroit Tigers in the 28th round with the 846th overall pick after going 10-1 with a 1.59 ERA for Florida State this year.

“I actually didn’t see my name pop-up [because] I was in the shower after today’s game. Hunter Scantling was actually back in Tallahassee for today’s game and he was the one who told me Detroit drafted me," said Sitz. "This is something that I have worked my whole life for. I’ve never been drafted before so I am really excited about it."

FSU's incoming freshman class at the start of the year had more draft selections under their belts than the five players that were drafted out of Florida State over the past three days did. Winston, John Sansone and DJ Stewart were all selected in 2012 and chose to go to Florida State rather than sign where they were picked. 

None of the five players taken from FSU in this year's 40 round Major League marathon had ever been drafted. 

Mike Martin's been doing this long enough to know that the positives that come from putting players into the majors on a regular basis are also accompanied by drawbacks. You lose players early when they get drafted as juniors- that's something FSU deals with regularly.

But at the end of Florida State's season- whether that's today or in a couple weeks- Martin and his coaching staff's attention will immediately turn to another one of the draft's drawbacks: it's impact on recruiting.

The draft takes even the best laid plans of any coach and just wreaks havok on them. Martin and co. will have to just say goodbye to a few recruits and will have to put on the hard-sell to try and persuade other prospects to stick with Florida State. 

Incidentally FSU had as many players drafted from its potential 2013 recruiting class as were taken from their nationally seventh-ranked roster. Per PerfectGame.Org's most recent reports, five likely Seminole commitments were drafted, two of them went in the first three rounds. 

SS Oscar Mercado was taken 57th overall by the St. Louis Cardinals in the middle of the 2nd round and then Ben Deluzio, a middle infielder who's also the younger brother of former FSU WBB captain Alexa Deluzio, was picked 80th by the Marlins near the top of the third. 

MT Minacci, a RHP out of Tallahassee was the Rockies' choice with the third pick of round 20 (589 overall). Taylor Blatch became the 800th selection when Minnesota took him in the 27th round and the Reds took a shot at 6-3 St. Thomas Aquinas LHP Alec Byrd when they grabbed him late with pick 1125 all the way in the 37th round. 

That's enough to make a Seminole fan's head spin. Now imagine being a coach or player with life-altering choices and the rollercoaster of emotion that comes with realizing a dream, and then go block that and play a baseball game. Happy Sunday.

Check back for updates from game two of the Super Regional between FSU and Indiana this afternoon.


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

(Photo courtesy of Ryan Syrkus)

June 08, 2013

Florida State's Rally Falls Short in the Ninth, Seminoles Drop Game One


Tough loss for the Florida State Seminoles.

Hosting their sixth consecutive Super Regional at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahasseee, FSU dropped the opener to the no. 13 Indiana Hoosiers, 10-9.

The game took four hours and 15 minutes. There were 11 different pitchers, 23 hits, 19 runs, 6 errors and a very dramatic finish. I heard someone say that this was baseball at it's best. No, not really. This was actually an extremely sloppy game where both teams shot themselves in the foot enough times that they had to start doubling up on feet. 

The six errors is not indicative of the number of mental gaffes that were made either. Poor baserunning, bad outs in key at-bats and just general lapses in concentration were issues that both teams dealt with. 

This game may have been indicative of how competitive this Super Regional might be, but it was hardly indicative of how talented these two teams are.

Ironically, Indiana head coach Tracy Smith said on Friday that he thought that this series would come down to pitching. Specifically he thought it would come down to a few key pitches.

That may prove to be true– and it certainly looked to be the case for the first three innings on Saturday– but by the end of game one it sure did look more like the key to winning this series will be avoiding mistakes and scoring runs. Lots of runs.

FSU's Luke Weaver was coming off the best start of his young career and was extremely efficient retiring the Hoosier lineup the first time through the order. But as Indiana SS Michael Basil said after the game, the second time through the lineup they had started to time his fastball and they were ready for what he was going to bring. 

The result of that was a four-run fourth inning. 

“They’re a great team, a great hitting team," said Weaver. "They took a lot of mistakes I left over the plate and did a good job of capitalizing on them. They got the key hits here and there. I credit them. They came out ready to hit today. I didn’t have my best stuff. I was trying to grind through that game. I know when my team came back and got me those runs it was a whole new ball game. I was trying to get out there and pitch the best I could.

"It just didn’t go our way."

The Seminoles responded in kind in the fourth inning. They tossed up a four-spot of their own and knocked Indiana's starter, Joey DeNato, out of the game before he could record an out. DeNato didn't have his best stuff on Saturday either. He walked four, hit two and gave up a hit. He only let in two runs, but when he started the fourth with a walk and an HBP, Smith came out and got him.

Though after the game I think Smith admitted that was actually a mistake. He joked that he forgot he had already made a mound visit that inning and was obligated to yank him. 

That may have been for laughs, or it's also extremely plausible even the coaches were making mistakes in game one.

Indiana had many mound visits actually, enough that I could actually see somebody forgetting if they had walked from the dugout to the hill yet in a given frame. The Hoosiers probably had more meetings on the pitcher's mound in one game than some teams had in an entire weekend in Tallahassee this season.

Smith was more than happy to openly joke about it at the postgame press conference too, "we have a good time out there, we tell jokes and stuff," he said to a ripple of laughter. 

It's an interesting strategy, Indiana controlled the tempo of the game by being as deliberately methodical (and that's probably the nicest way I could think to word that) as they could be. You'd see a pitcher lean in and take his time getting the sign, the batter would call time and step out, then the pitcher would step out a few seconds after the batter got back in the box.

The fourth inning alone lasted over 45 minutes.

I'm not sure it worked with Florida State's hitters. FSU's offense had a weird afternoon (more on that later) but it wasn't because of the speed Indiana's pitchers were working at. The Seminoles actually outhit Indiana 12-11. They had plenty of chances to score. Just in that epic fourth inning they stayed patient and strung together three singles and another HBP to plate four runs and tie the game 4-4.

The deliberately slow pace of the game may have had an effect on Luke Weaver though. It may have aided in preventing him from establishing any kind of rhythm after the 4th inning.

His first three innings he was able to get into a flow and he was solid. And while Indiana did catch up to him in the fourth, Weaver has had a bad inning or two over the course of the season and was usually able to course correct and avoid allowing another. On Saturday the sophomore got roughed up some in the fourth and then had to sit in the dugout for nearly half an hour before he could get back on the mound.

He came out in the fifth and despite avoiding damage, fell behind in counts and never looked completely in sync. In the sixth he gave up another run behind a single and a double.

Weaver admitted he didn't have his best stuff on Saturday and that happens sometimes. But if there was any shot he was going to get into a rhythm and find it, Indiana certainly didn't give him that chance.

If this all sounds familiar it's not terribly different from how FSU plays ball. Mike Martin is the master of the double mound visit. Sending the catcher first, letting the umpire break up the meeting and then walking out himself to pull the pitcher or sometimes just to slow things down a little more. That's nothing new in Tallahassee, and while it's not quite as common as it seems to be with Tracy Smith and Indiana, Mike Martin certainly knows his way to the hill and at times can take slowing the game down to help his own team's agenda (try to calm momentum, more time to warm up a reliever, etc...) to a near-artistic level. 

And as for the plate discipline, this is what Florida State does to other teams regularly.

What Seminoles fans felt today as Indiana came to the plate with a focused approach, looking for specific pitches and working counts to their favor was the same thing as a lot of opposing fans felt as FSU won 46 games and dominated parts of their regular season schedule this year.

Weaver hit 112 pitches after just six innings. By comparison last weekend against Troy he threw 115 in eight full innings. He also had far fewer high stress pitches.

One of the things FSU pitching coach Mike Bell likes to reiterate is that sometimes throwing 75 high stress pitches in a game can be more detrimental than throwing 110 pitches but rarely being in a jam or a high stress situation. 

Last Saturday as Florida State beat Troy 10-0, the game was tight early but Weaver was never really tested, Troy only reached base four times against Weaver and double plays erased most of those runners.

Against the Hoosiers, even as they struggled their first time around the order, they made him throw a lot of pitches. The first inning only saw three plate appearances, but all three hitters saw at least five pitches.

Weaver started to have some success at the bottom of the order and really mowed through the 7-8-9 hitters in the 3rd. But after seeing his pitches the first time up and watching their teammates at the bottom of the order go up and play into Weaver's strengths, the Hoosiers made their adjustments. They started looking for Weaver to throw something to hit in his first couple of pitches and if he didn't, they'd work the count and either look for a walk or a mistake. Weaver doesn't walk many, though he did walk a couple Saturday. But to avoid giving up walks he'll occasionally leave something out over the plate and Indiana was making him pay for those mistakes on Saturday. 

Ultimately, after FSU and Indiana battled back and forth the first six innings of the game, a four-run 7th that included two Florida State throwing errors handed control back to the Hoosiers. 

With Weaver checked out, the Hoosiers wasted little time attacking the Florida State bullpen and the Seminoles pitched in with three errors in two innings that netted Indiana five runs and put them on top for good.

In the 7th John Nogowski made a throwing error on a bunt, then later in the inning Stephen McGee airmailed a pick-off attempt to third and a run came in with two outs. Both errors proved costly, rather than have a man on and one out, there were two baserunners and nobody down after Nogowski's error. In McGee's case, Billy Strode retired the batter that was standing in the box when McGee made the errant throw just a few pitches later.

At the very least the errors cost Florida State a run in the 7th, possibly more. In the 8th another throwing error, this one on Jose Brizuela, allowed Indiana to push their advantage out to four runs.

Florida State didn't go quietly though, the Seminoles kept swinging and took the game down to the final out. John Nogowski hit a two-run home run in the 8th inning to cut the lead to two and in the ninth DJ Stewart scored Giovanny Alfonzo on a single to right.

With two on, and one out a wild pitch advanced both runners into scoring position. Florida State couldn't have asked for a better shot at the end. With the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position and the game on the line the Seminoles had two of their most dangerous bats in a position to steal it back or at least extend it another inning.

They both flew out harmlessly to end the game. 

It left Seminole fans with a bad taste in their mouth, for sure. But it may be a little early to panic.

This game was bizarre in many ways, from the overall length of it to the number of on-mound discussions both teams had, to the fact both teams did about as many things to lose the game as they did to win it in some cases.

And if there was a trend heading into the game, it wasn't likely to hold up on Saturday.

For instance, almost exactly one-third of FSU's hits this year were extra base hits, it's 33.38%. On Saturday FSU collected 12 hits, statistically that would mean a couple doubles, maybe a triple and a home run, but four extra base hits.

Florida State had 11 singles against Indiana. One home run, 11 singles. Not even just with Florida State, but just regarding baseball in general that doesn't happen very often. You may see that when a team only gets four hits all game, but to get 12 hits across five different pitchers (Luke Harrison didn't surrender a hit in his .2 innings of work) and not even get one guy past first without an error or the ball leaving the yard... that's odd. And statistically unlikely.

FSU also stranded 13 runners, they made base-running gaffes and they had three defensive errors. They made all those mistakes and they still had a very good shot to win down to the final out.

It all lined up so imperfectly for the Seminoles on Saturday with Weaver being a bit off, Stephen McGee making an uncharateristic mistake at a costly moment, the inability to get extra base hits, key timely hits, etc... 

But that's baseball. As Mike Martin said on Friday at the introductory press conference, "that's why it's the greatest game in the world."

It's not who IS better, it's oftentimes who's PLAYING better.

If FSU avoids the sloppiness of Saturday for the rest of the weekend, they have already proved that they can hit against the Indiana bullpen– even when it's rested.

That doesn't mean you should bet it all on FSU in this round though. Nor does it mean the Hoosiers won't look a lot better after they correct a few issues they had in game one, themselves.

Indiana also made three errors, they also made some bad baserunning decisions and now with just 53 pitches thrown, Joey DeNato could be available on Monday if needed for relief in game three.

Indiana didn't play its best game on Saturday either. In fact Coach Smith used the words, "really sloppy" more than a few times after the game. And just as many don't expect a repeat performance from Florida State on Sunday, it's also not likely Indiana makes as many mistakes in game two either.

The road to Omaha is still manageable for the Seminoles, but it got a lot harder Saturday afternoon. FSU needs to win two straight at home in order to make it to the College World Series, Indiana needs just one win. 

On the podium after game one the Seminoles looked worn out, but Mike Martin wasn't ready to panic yet.

“Tomorrow, God willing the sun’s going to come up, it ain’t over yet,” said Martin. “We’re going to play our butts off tomorrow.”

In game two Florida State hopes to play more like the team that was 35-4 and almost untouchable at Dick Howser this season. But like many of the other trends and stats that both teams took into this series, right now those numbers might not mean a thing.

Gotta love baseball.


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

(Photo courtesy of Ryan Syrkus)

Seminoles Ready For Hoosiers in NCAA Super Regional


This was originally supposed to run for print but was cut. So here it is on the blog.

Tropical storm Andrea may have come and gone, but its impact was still being felt on Friday as Florida State University prepares to host their sixth consecutive NCAA Super Regional.

“When we got off the plane yesterday and the weather was going sideways, I would have gladly invited you guys up [to Bloomington],” joked Indiana head coach Tracy Smith. “You could have played at our place.”

Aside from pushing a press conference back a few hours on Friday, Florida State is hopeful the weather doesn’t cause anymore problems this weekend– they have enough to deal with on the field.

Indiana (46-14, Big Ten Champions) has won four straight and eight of their last nine. Despite some of the stigma that comes with playing baseball up north, the Hoosiers are confident after winning regular season road series against NCAA tournament teams like Florida and Louisville.

“That showed them just play baseball, be who you are, don’t get caught up in what the other uniform says, all those things,” said Smith. “Just play, if you’re good, you’re good.”

“We’re playing a team that has played a very tough schedule, that is not the least bit concerned where they play or who they play,” said Martin. “We know that we are going to have to play extremely well.”

The no. 7 Seminoles (47-15, ACC Atlantic Champions) have their work cut out for them, but head into this weekend with the confidence that comes from breezing through their NCAA Regional by a combined score of 32-4.

Neither of their scheduled starters even gave up a run in Regional play.

On Saturday, FSU will throw sophomore Luke Weaver (7-2, 1.95 ERA) against Indiana junior Joey DeNato (9-2, 2.65 ERA) in game one. Weaver was superb last weekend, striking out 14 of the 26 batters he faced and giving up just four hits and no walks over eight scoreless innings.

In game two, scheduled for Sunday at one, Florida State will send senior Scott Sitz (10-1, 1.59 ERA) to the hill against sophomore Aaron Slegers (9-1, 1.94 ERA). If needed, game three is scheduled for Monday at 1 PM.

“I know that this is setting up to be a very exciting weekend,” said Martin. “We’re just both very proud and happy to still be playing.”


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

(Photo courtesy of Ryan Syrkus)

June 07, 2013

Photos: FSU's Indoor Practice Facility Nearly Complete


What does 15 million dollars buy you in Tallahassee? 

A world class indoor practice facility for your football team. After a couple years of lobbying, Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles will start next season in a beautiful, brand new indoor practice facility.

Over the course of the last seven months (since the days following the Florida-Florida State game), we've watched as this facility has flown up. From once being just a parking lot and a couple of practice fields to the facilities you see here, this building has shot up.

Earlier today as I arrived for the Super Regional introductory press conference, they were putting the letters on the outside of the "Albert J. Dunlap Athletic Training Facility," so afterwards I had Ryan Syrkus go take a few shots of the new IPF.

Here they are:





Here's a panoramic shot:


And here's the re-planted Sod Cemetary:



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

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June 06, 2013

DJ Stewart Named Lousiville Slugger Freshman All-American


Florida State freshman DJ Stewart has had one heck of a first season in Tallahassee. 

It's not often you see a true freshman take over a lineup the way Stewart has– especially at a perennial baseball powerhouse like Florida State.

But the freshman's athleticism and love of the game shine through on ever play and he tows the fine line between tenacity and plate discipline like a seasoned vet. On Wednesday, Louisville Slugger rewarded the Seminoles' freshman outfielder with a selection to their Freshman All-American team.

Stewart has been an offensive leader for the Seminoles since his first game. Heading into the Super Regional against Indiana he leads Florida State in hitting (.363), hits (78), doubles (25) and slugging percentage (.567). He ranks in the top 10 in the ACC in six offensive categories including doubles (2nd), batting average (4th), on-base percentage (5th), slugging percentage (6th), RBI (t-8th) and total bases (10th).

Stewart was also honored with All-ACC second team honors, was voted to last weekend's All-Regional team and frankly, was my Regional MVP after going 7 of 11 in those three games. Twice an ACC player of the week, it didn't take long for the Garnet and Gold faithful to embrace DJ– and that hasn't been lost on him.

"It's awesome, I was actually talking to my dad about it the other day," said Stewart. "Going up to the plate I hear the fans more and more, it's awesome hearing that they really appreciate me being here and what I'm doing. The fans have been great to our team the whole year, but it's an awesome feeling walking up to the plate, making a good play and hearing them cheer for you.

"It's awesome."

Stewart and Florida State will host Indiana in a Super Regional that begins Saturday at noon, weather permitting.


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

(Photo courtesy of Ryan Syrkus)



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