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Martin Jr. tweaks rotation, inserts Hubbart in Saturday role vs. UVa

Florida State has adjusted the starting rotation ahead of this weekend’s series against No. 8 Virginia.

Mike Martin Jr. announced on Thursday that Parker Messick will remain in the Friday role but Bryce Hubbart will pitch on Saturday and Conor Grady will follow on Sunday. Carson Montgomery struggled with his control in the first inning of Saturday’s loss, walking three batters.

Hubbart has pitched twice in relief, allowing two earned runs but striking out 11 and walking just two in 5.2 innings. The freshman left-hander recorded nine strikeouts and was effective overall but was forced to throw more than expected as FSU went deep into extra innings on Sunday. Hubbart allowed two runs in the 13thinning as FSU fell 9-7 and was swept by Pitt.

“Three pitches for strikes, pound the zone,” Martin Jr. said. “He’s an up-tempo guy. His strike percentage is a lot higher than it has been in the past.”

Martin Jr. said Montgomery threw in an intrasquad game on Tuesday, part of his hope to get the freshman right-hander back on the mound. He said Montgomery would be available in a relief role, likely on Saturday or Sunday.

The three-game series begins on Friday at 6 p.m. with all of the games streaming live on ACC Network Extra.

Injury update

Catcher Matheu Nelson and first baseman-designated hitter Tyler Martin are game-time decisions, Martin Jr. said. If Nelson can’t go, the Seminoles would turn to redshirt sophomore Colton Vincent, who is a transfer from College of Central Florida. Vincent hit .318 and scored 40 runs as a freshman at the junior college in Ocala. 

If Tyler Martin can’t go, it would necessitate a shift in the batting order as he hits leadoff. Dylan Simmons would likely play first base and FSU can look to reserves to be the designated hitter with adjustments made for whether Virginia is starting a right-hander or left-hander.

Two-strike approach

Martin Jr. watched as FSU struck out 47 times in the weekend series against Pittsburgh. The Seminoles also struck out looking at a high rate — five times on Friday, five times on Saturday and twice on Sunday.

“A round object with a round object,” Martin Jr. said. “You better have the right mindset. We worked on that. We continue to work on it. Again, the more times they’re in the arena, in the batter’s box, the better off it will be. We have to stay the course. We have to continue to stress what we stress.”

Virginia’s rotation

Martin Jr. said Virginia has a “versatile staff” filled with arms who have three-pitch mixes. Left-hander Andrew Abbott (1-1, 2.13 ERA, 15 strikeouts in 12.2 innings) will pitch on Friday. Right-handers Mike Vasil (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 11 strikeouts and no walks in 12 innings) and Griff McGarry (0-1, 3.00 ERA, 18 strikeouts in nine innings) will start the weekend games.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Martin Jr. said. “They can really pitch. … Our job is to get ahead, dictate the flow of the game.”

The Cavaliers opened ACC play 1-2 against North Carolina.