The gauntlet of games against nationally ranked teams continues for Florida State (24-15, 11-10 ACC) as the Seminoles host No. 7 TCU (27-14, 12-6 Big 12) in a matchup that has major playoff implications. The Horned Frogs are atop the Big 12 and could very well lock in a national seed for the postseason with a series win against the Seminoles this weekend. They are coming off back-to-back series wins against No. 4 Texas Tech and No. 3 Oklahoma State.
“It’s exciting,” FSU coach Mike Martin Jr. said. “I’d much rather do that then play a school that isn’t going to give you any sort of competition. That’s not good for the fans — what’s the point of doing that? Our guys are excited, they are more upbeat.”
This will be the first regular season meeting between the two teams despite having some postseason history. The only other time the two teams had met was in the 2010 College World Series in which the Horned Frogs swept the Seminoles in dominating fashion during their best-of-three series.
For Florida State, winning the series this weekend would greatly increase their chances of hosting a regional in Tallahassee this postseason. More importantly, the Seminoles are looking for a bounce-back series after a weekend of disappointing losses on the road at Clemson.
Despite leading in every game this past weekend, FSU was only able to grab one victory against the Tigers, who prior to that series were only 4-10 in conference games and were only above Boston College in the ACC Atlantic Division standings.
A late grand slam on Friday and a blown save on Sunday capped off yet another series in which Florida State could not close late in games.
Carson Montgomery, who was just promoted to the Sunday starter role for Florida State the previous week, only lasted a single inning last Sunday.
“Carson had a bad outing,” Martin Jr. said. “It was really weird too because in the first inning he was fantastic and then all of a sudden it didn’t go his way. I never want guys to think that we don’t believe in them and trust them. We are going to have bad days. I think he was just too amped up.”
Montgomery will get another go at it against TCU this weekend but will be pitching on Saturday instead. Martin Jr. announced that Montgomery and the normal Saturday starter Bryce Hubbart will swap days this week due to Hubbart being sick earlier this week. Martin Jr. also said that the Seminoles would likely be without Jackson Greene, who has developed as a reliable infield piece.
This weekend like many others comes down to just how well Florida State’s pitching staff can throw against a very well-coached offense. Perhaps not an offense that will blow you away at the plate but certainly one that will capitalize off mistakes and generate runs. TCU is currently ranked 9th in the country in generating walks (233) and 71st in the country in runs scored (out of 293 D1 teams).
A series win for Florida State would go a long way towards solidifying their postseason position, with three remaining conference series on the schedule (at Boston College, Miami and at UNC). Florida State also has a midweek doubleheader against Jacksonville (who continues to be a nuisance for FSU), a makeup game against Stetson and the final game against Florida to end the season. Midweek games have been a struggle for Florida State this season, so gaining wins against a nationally ranked team will greatly reduce the pressure heading into the postseason.
Martin Jr. believes that now that exams are done, the players have an extra pep in their step and that the team will see improvements sooner rather than later.
Up next: TCU at FSU
The Seminoles and Horned Frogs faceoff on Friday at 7 p.m. (ACC Network Extra), Saturday at 6 p.m. (ACC Network) and Sunday at Noon (ACC Network Extra).