After falling in the season opener for the second year in a row, the Florida State Seminoles rebounded to win the final two games of the series against North Florida in a doubleheader on Sunday, 14-7 and 8-4.
Whereas the offense was inconsistent on Saturday, the bats were hot on Sunday as the ’Noles scored a combined 22 runs during the remaining two games.
“I liked the energy in the dugout,” coach Mike Martin Jr. said. “There were guys that played a lot of innings today and kept their energy up, which was good to see.”
Martin Jr. had been critical of his team’s approach at the plate during Game 1 but was overall pleased with how the team handled their approach during the doubleheader.
“They kind of beat us at our own game (on Saturday),” Martin Jr. added. “We are a big-inning team. The more guys we get on, someone pops a double or gets hit by a pitch — whatever way we can score.”
A seven-run inning in game two and a five-run inning in game three pole-vaulted the Seminoles into comfortable leads in which they never gave up the lead.
There have already been some early returns from some of the team’s specific off-season changes.
Infielder Nander De Sedas has earned a hit in every game thus far while also drawing three walks. De Sedas is in the middle of a change to only hitting right-handed, a decision made after two straight seasons of subpar and inconsistent hitting while batting from both sides of the plate.
Additionally, catcher Matheu Nelson’s work in the weight room has produced two home runs in as many games for the sophomore.
“It’s a great feeling,” Nelson said. “We saw it a lot in the fall too. I knew nothing was going to change and everything was going to translate. Everything had to stay the same — the mindset, the approach at the plate — and trying to hit the ball off your back hip. Just seeing it all come together is a big relief.”
What didn’t seem to quite come together was the pitching for Florida State.
It’s unfair to make brash assumptions about Week 1 performances, especially in a sport like baseball in which it’s truly a ‘day by day’ game and the team hasn’t thrown against real competition in a little under a year. However, the reality is that the Seminoles will continue to need to work out the kinks on the mound.
After a disappointing performance by Parker Messick the day before, freshman right-hander Carson Montgomery made his Florida State debut. Despite a messy start, Montgomery threw three straight scoreless innings before being relieved.
“That was good to see … he had to overcome some adversity,” Martin Jr. said. “A couple of calls didn’t go his way, but I saw what I wanted to out of him.”
Right-hander Conor Grady helped propel the Seminoles to an early lead on the mound in the rubber match, only relinquishing two hits and three walks in 5.1 innings of work.
“Conor was Conor, there is no other way to put it,” Nelson said. “If you go look back to the regional against Georgia (from 2019), he looked just as sharp and just as dominant.”
Despite some good outings from the starters on Sunday, the bullpen had its inconsistencies as well.
In game two, freshman Ross Dunn gave up two runs and five walks in relief of Montgomery. All the relievers that came afterwards, apart from Bryce Hubbart, each gave up a run and a walk in their outings.
In game three, junior Tyler Ahearn inherited two runners in relief of Grady. Those runners scored on a double off his first pitch, which was promptly followed by a run earned off a wild pitch.
There will be good and bad games throughout the year for this Florida State pitching staff, which is the nature of baseball. But as for the debut of this incredibly hyped staff, it was often outshone by the offense on Sunday due to some inconsistencies on the mound.
The Seminoles face the Pittsburgh Panthers for a three-game series beginning on Friday at 6 p.m. (ACC Network Extra) and will hope to correct some of the mistakes made during opening weekend.
“I got a list longer than I’ve ever had,” Martin Jr. said. “I can’t wait to get back to work on Tuesday.”