CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A microcosm of its regular season, Florida State showed its potential and eerily familiar reasons for caution in the ACC Tournament at Truist Field.
The Seminoles finished the week 1-1 in what many considered to be the hardest pod at the annual tournament. A 13-3, run-rule shortened win over Virginia gave a glimpse at the danger FSU presents any team, while a 5-3 loss to Notre Dame on Thursday highlighted much of the same question marks present throughout the regular season.
Bats show signs of life, remain inconsistent
The offense for the Seminoles has come and gone all season for the Seminoles, who rank last in the ACC in batting average and runs scored per game. Against the Cavaliers on Wednesday the offense was as potent as it’s been all year, scoring 13 runs on 15 hits, including home runs by Alex Toral and Reese Albert.
“I think the whole team kind of bought into that mentality (of playing in post-season) and came out here just playing hungry,” Toral said. “This is our chance to make a run at it with the team we have.”
“We get some guys going, with the pitching that we’ve got, we’re going to be right where we want to be,” Martin Jr. added.
FSU has used the big inning a couple times this season on its way to impressive victories over teams like Louisville, TCU, Florida and Miami. The six-run third inning Wednesday against UVA showed the peak this offense can achieve when firing on all cylinders. Even Colton Vincent joined the fun, with a 3 for 4 performance as six Seminoles enjoyed multi-hit games.
However, against Notre Dame on Thursday, much of the same struggles with runners on base plagued the Seminoles, stranding seven runners in the game, including three in a pivotal fourth inning. FSU loaded the bases with no outs against Irish ace John Michael Bertrand.
Isaiah Perry and Toral struck out, while Logan Lacey saw a ball hit 395 feet get caught in dead center field to end the inning. Overall, the offense mustered just seven hits, including a couple in the bottom of the ninth trying to mount a last-gasp rally. Brock Mathis’ two-run double that missed being a game-tying grand slam by a few feet, was the final push for FSU, which couldn’t capitalize on opportunities throughout the affair.
Bullpen shines, Messick trying to regain form
For much of the season, Florida State has been able to rely on its outstanding one-two punch of Parker Messick and Bryce Hubbart. However, in the ACC Tournament, the duo combined to give up eight runs in just eight innings of work.
Messick struggled with giving up the long ball, allowing three home runs to Notre Dame. He was tagged with five earned runs on eight hits in four frames. For the southpaw, he’s allowed 13 earned runs in his last three starts, seeing his ERA rise almost a full run in the last month.
“He’s been leaving his fastball up, but he wasn’t bad today,” Martin Jr said. “It’s about changing levels with the fastball for him.”
The pen was fantastic for FSU in the tournament, allowing no runs in eight innings of work. Wyatt Crowell was especially impressive yet again, firing off five innings of shutout baseball against Virginia on Wednesday.
“He was the best left-handed arm we have seen all year,” Virginia coach Brian O’Connor said following the game.
Ross Dunn and Carson Montgomery were also sharp in relief against Notre Dame, as the Seminoles got work for them in addition to Davis Hare and Jonah Scolaro before the final postseason push next weekend. As the Seminoles head into NCAA Regionals, they’ll have to rely on the arms to lead the way, while relying on each other as the moments become more important.
“These guys will fight you, I like this club,” Martin Jr. said as he left the podium in Charlotte.