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Rhode Island Series Recap: The Kids Are Alright

Three Up:

3B John Sansone 7-12 2HR 5R 9RBI

The offense was led by senior John Sansone, who drove in 9 of the team’s 50 runs scored and hit his first two home runs of the season. Sansone effectively justified Coach Martin’s decision to hit him in the 3-hole in the order this weekend. It’s also good to see that the transition to 3rd base hasn’t distracted Sansone at the plate, even if the infield defense is still a work in progress. Going forward look for Sansone to be a force in the lineup as him and Nieporte look to be the big bats in the Florida State lineup.

LF Gage West 5-7 HR 3R 6RBI

And it is Gage West who has the early lead in the left field platoon battle. West was crushing every pitch this series, albeit against primarily right-handed pitchers. Coach Martin said after the game on Friday night that if West could show that he can hit lefties consistently than he would be in the lineup everyday. West started on Sunday against the only right-handed pitcher so it will be interesting to see how much playing time against lefties he gets going forward.

RHP Cole Sands 5IP 2H 0ER 6K

True freshman Cole Sands showed on Sunday why he has been so hyped up. Sands was in total command of the game on Sunday, striking out 6 and only allowing 2 hits. From the start of the game he was able to command his fastball wherever he wanted on the plate. When he got batters to two strike counts, he put them away with a devastating slider. This spot could just as easily have gone to LHP Tyler Holton, who dazzled in relief on Saturday, but I will talk more about Holton’s debut later on.

Three Down:

Infield Defense 

The great Florida State experiment has gotten off to a rocky start after the first weekend of play. Much was made over Sansone shifting to third base, Dylan Busby moving to first base, and transfer Matt Henderson taking over second base duties. Sansone, moving from second base last season, seemed to have some difficulty adjusting to the speed of the ground balls at third as he made two errors in this series. Henderson also had a bad error, letting a grounder straight through his legs. Obviously this is the first series of the season and there were times when FSU’s infield defense looked really good, Dylan Busby at first base particularly, but there needs to be more consistency among the easy plays for this defense.

Andrew Karp 1IP 4H 3R 3ER 1K

At this point I was reaching for items to fill out the “Three Down” list (It’s really hard to nitpick negatives when FSU outscores their opponent 50-6). Karp was the only reliever this series to give up an earned run, and he gave up three coming in relief on Sunday. One could probably chalk this one up to a bad inning, but against a Rhode Island team that was swinging pretty awful all series Karp should have been able to shut them down easily.

Ben DeLuzio: 0SB 1CS

Ben DeLuzio had an abysmal start to his 2015 campaign and his 2016 campaign got off to a much better start. He went 3-4 on Friday night and is hitting .364 at the end of the series. The one concern that I have with DeLuzio is that he did not steal a base during the series and was thrown out on his only attempt. DeLuzio is the lead-off hitter primarily because of the fact that his speed makes him such a threat to wreak havoc on the base paths. DeLuzio is one of those baseball players who can hit a double simply by getting on first base because of his speed and his ability to steal bases. Going forward it’ll be interesting to see how often DeLuzio steals and the amount of confidence the coaching staff has in giving Ben the green light.

 

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Freshman C Cal Raleigh swings through a pitch against Rhode Island on Saturday.

 

Florida State baseball gave its fans a lot to clamor about following this weekend’s series with Rhode Island. There are many story lines here, almost all of them good, and I’m going to be tackling all of them in this week’s recap. Any analysis of this series has to start with the 50 (!!!) runs that FSU scored against Rhode Island. The offense was the biggest story of the weekend as they exploded onto the scene to score 19, 8, and 23 runs respectively. Coming into the season there were concerns about Florida State’s ability to score runs following the departure of D.J. Stewart and the suspension of junior Quincy Nieporte.

The big story that I took away from this weekend’s series was the key contributions made by Florida State’s freshmen. As aforementioned, North Florida Christian HS product Cole Sands was electric in his collegiate debut on Sunday and he looks to be a mainstay in the rotation going forward. I was also extremely impressed by lefty Tyler Holton. Holton entered in relief of Drew Carlton on Saturday and completely shut down Rhode Island. Holton ended up striking out 6 in 4 innings while only allowing a single hit the rest of the way. Holton is expected to be the mid-week starter for the Seminoles this season and it will be very exciting to see what he can do as a starter. Look for Holton to make his first start against Jacksonville on Tuesday, March 1. True freshman Cal Raleigh was also very impressive in his debut this weekend for the Seminoles. He started every game and batted cleanup in each game as well, this shows the coaching staff clearly has a lot of confidence in Raleigh. Cal went 4-9 on the series with 5RBI and 3 runs scored. His most impressive contribution, however, was behind the plate. Raleigh seemed to have a good rapport with the pitchers he caught, was aggressive and accurate with his throws from behind the plate (I did not think he deserved the throwing error on Saturday but I digress), and knew exactly when to make a mound visit to talk to his pitcher. As for the rest of the freshmen, Jackson Lueck went 2-3 with 3RBI, Donovan Petrey went 3-8 with 3RBI, and Tyler Holton went 1-2 with an RBI. Every freshman who had an at bat against Rhode Island had at least one hit and one RBI which is very impressive and very good news for the Seminoles moving forward.

This weekend was a great way for Florida State to start the season. FSU moved up two places to number 18 in the D1Baseball poll, up one spot to number 16 in the Baseball America poll, and up three positions to number 17 in the Perfect Game rankings. FSU will face a much tougher challenge next weekend in College of Charleston and College of Charleston will definitely be motivated as FSU eliminated them in the Tallahassee regional last season. That series takes place Friday Feb. 26 – Sunday Feb. 28 and the start times are 4PM on Friday, 1PM on Saturday, and 1PM on Sunday at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, FL.

Vinnie Cervino

Lead Baseball Writer, Perpetually Pessimistic Sport Fan, Proprietor of My Own Delusions and Fallacies, 80 Grade Takes. Twitter @cervino_vinnie.



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