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Notes: Cabell’s resurgence, rotation and UNC preview

Florida State will open up a three-game series against North Carolina with a mix of resurgent bats as well as a few regulars who are hitting under .200. We take a look at some news and notes on the Seminoles (13-8). Game 1 of the three-game series vs. the Tar Heels (13-10) will be Friday at 6 p.m. (live stream on ACC Network Extra).

At the plate

Elijah Cabell hit a home run for a third straight game, a two-run shot in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 8-1 win over Mercer. Cabell has at least one hit and one RBI in each of the last four games and his average has jumped dramatically from .160 after the Virginia Tech series to .293 now. He still has more strikeouts (20) than hits (12) but the improvement since his return to the starting lineup has been a major positive.

“He was as good a teammate during that rough patch where we got to where we had to sit him down,” FSU coach Mike Martin Jr. said. “He was top of the dugout. Encouraging. Picking up stuff from pitchers. He’s growing up.”

Tyler Martin leads FSU in batting average (.348), runs (27), walks (22), hit by pitch (six) and on-base percentage (.537). The 22 walks leads the ACC and he’s been on base in 34 of 35 career starts.

FSU’s lineup on Wednesday included 3B Ryan Romano (.171), 2B Jackson Greene (.137), SS Vince Smith (.125) and C Colton Vincent (hitless in limited at-bats but .091 after his first FSU hit on Wednesday).

The Seminoles need to get some of their injured players back but it remains uncertain who will be available this weekend. C Matheu Nelson was given the midweek game off. SS Nander De Sedas (oblique) appears to be the furthest away from playing, Martin Jr. said.

Rotation

Jack Anderson’s midweek start (6.2 perfect innings before giving up a solo home run vs. Mercer) has sparked discussion of a change to the rotation, likely not for this weekend but moving forward. Anderson or Carson Montgomery are clearly pushing for a potential role on the weekend.

The Seminoles will keep their weekend rotation as is for the UNC series: LHP Parker Messick (2-2, 2.73 ERA, 51 strikeouts in 33 innings) on Friday as well as LHP Bryce Hubbart (3-2, 4.01 ERA, 38 strikeouts in 24.2 innings) on Saturday and RHP Conor Grady (3-1, 4.18 ERA, 32 strikeouts in 28 innings) on Sunday. It’s possible in future weeks that Martin Jr. will juggle the rotation.

UNC will start three right-handers this weekend: Austin Love (4-1, 3.75 ERA) on Friday, followed by Max Alba (2-2, 5.81 ERA) and Max Carlson (2-1, 4.56 ERA).

Resume-building

FSU has an odd resume against the ACC. The Seminoles have dropped series against No. 24 Pitt and Wake Forest, yet have taken series against ranked teams like No. 19 Miami and No. 23 Virginia Tech (as well as Virginia). UNC just dropped out of the D1baseball.com poll on Monday.

Martin Jr. said it was important to reschedule the Mercer game in an effort to get to the ACC-allowed max of 50 games this season. RPI is another consideration as FSU seeks to be in position for a good seed in the NCAA Tournament. FSU is 56th going into April but the Seminoles have been swept by No. 15 Pitt and dropped two of three games to No. 42 Wake Forest. The Seminoles swept No. 19 Miami and No. 29 Va. Tech.

“Nobody knows exactly how they are going to choose and select teams this year,” Martin Jr. said. “The Big Ten is playing conference only. There’s a lot of things that need to be sorted through.”

Stats

FSU’s 2021 stats can be viewed here

UNC’s 2021 stats can be viewed here