NoleGameday

Series Preview: Louisville Cardinals

When: April 8 – April 10

Where: Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium Tallahassee, FL

Friday Match-up*: RHP Mike Compton (4-1 3.47ERA) vs. LHP Brendan McKay (6-1 1.70ERA)

Saturday Match-up*: RHP Drew Carlton (4-1 3.38ERA) vs. LHP Drew Harrington (6-1 1.23ERA)

Sunday Match-up*: RHP Cole Sands (3-3 4.56ERA) vs. RHP Kyle Funkhouser (3-2 4.29ERA)

Player to Watch FSU: 3B John Sansone

Player to Watch LOU: OF Corey Ray

*Note: All starters are considered Probable. These pitchers are those expected to start but coaches could change starters before/during a series.

Florida State and Louisville will meet in Tallahassee with first place in the ACC Atlantic on the line. Louisville’s strengths are all over as they have been a consensus top 5 team in the country throughout the season. Florida State is coming off of a 1-1 midweek series against Texas Tech and will look to make a statement against one of the best team’s in the country. Louisville is loaded with talent from top to bottom and from pitching to hitting and a boat load of MLB talent. This series should be a good barometer for the Seminoles to see where they lie in terms of competition against likely College World Series teams.

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The player to watch for Florida State has been their best hitter all season, senior John Sansone. The third baseman for the Seminoles is continuing his hot streak this season as he is batting a team high .380 and leads the team in hits (41), home runs (4), runs batted in (35), total bases (62), and slugging percentage (.574). Sansone, Taylor Walls, and Cal Raleigh have led the way for the offense throughout the majority of the season, and the main attribute they have in common is their patience at the plate. The chance’s of Florida State out-slugging Louisville are not great, Florida State will have to be able to take pitches and force pitchers into throwing in hitter’s counts in order to get pitches to hit and take free passes.

Starting pitching for the Seminoles has been a problem as of late. The Cardinals have an extremely potent lineup and Coach Mike Martin knows that he will have to use all the weapons at his disposal in order to keep that potent offense at bay. The bullpen has been the strength of the pitching staff for the majority of the season and I don’t expect that to change this weekend. Look for a quick hook on the starters as once Louisville gets a lead they can shut teams down in a hurry. I wouldn’t be surprised for some of the relievers, Jim Voyles, Tyler Warmoth and Matthew Kinney specifically, to work multiple innings in an effort to shut down the Cardinals offense.

The player to watch for Louisville is outfielder Corey Ray. The Cardinals outfielder was named to the preseason All-ACC team and the Baseball America second All-American team. Ray, who also plays for Team USA, is expected to be a top 5 draft pick in the upcoming MLB Draft in June. Ray was actually drafted 33rd overall by the Seattle Mariners out of high school and has improved his draft stock tremendously over his college career, with some predicting that he could go number one overall. Ray leads the team in at-bats (120), runs scored (32), hits (41), doubles (9), home runs (4), runs batted in (36), and  total bases (79). What speaks volumes about the Cardinals offense is that Ray is third in terms of batting average amongst regular starters. Ray will most likely end up being one of the best player Florida State faces this season, as well as Buddy Reed and JJ Schwarz from Florida, and the offense as a whole is explosive, Devin Hairston, Blake Tiberi and Nick Solak if he is healthy.

The pitching staff for Louisville is also one of the best in the nation. Their ace, who was moved to the Sunday starting spot to take some pressure off him, Kyle Funkhouse was drafted 35th overall by the Dodgers . Funkhouser has struggled a bit this season but it should not affect his draft status, or his stuff for that matter, as he is still expected to be a top 40 pick come June. The other two lefties, Brendan McKay and Drew Harrington, have been downright filthy this season. McKay has been the ace of the staff this season leading the team in wins (6), innings pitched (47.2), and strikeouts (61) which has been good enough for a ridiculous 11.6 K/9. Lefties also present match-up problems for Florida State as they have been facing a lot of right handed pitchers all season. With two left-handed starters, Gage West will probably be limited to pinch hitting duties in the first two games of the series.

First pitch Friday night is scheduled for 6PM, Saturday night for 6PM, and Sunday afternoon for 1PM.

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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