39 Years and Counting?

Down 2-0 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Mississippi State’s Elijah Macnamee comes up to the plate with two runners on after Drew Parish walked both Outfielder Jake Mangum and Infielder Hunter Stovall on full counts.

Parish who held the Bulldogs scoreless through 8.2 innings with 7 strikeouts, got the controversial call from beloved Head Coach Mike Martin to finish the 9th. Which unfortunately ended on a 3 run blast off the left-field scoreboard in Dick Howser to send the No.1 seeded Seminoles home after being swept in the Tallahassee Regional.

After the ‘Noles very similar ending to that of the Burke Master’s walk-off grand slam in the 1990 Starkville Regional, the trending question around Tallahassee is what does Mike Martin’s future hold with the Florida State Baseball Program.

Martin who managed the ‘Noles to their 41st consecutive postseason appearance and a 43-19 record in his 39th season became College Baseball’s most winningest Head Coach as he surpassed the great Augie Garrido with a 3-2 win over the Clemson Tigers making it his 1976th win since he took over the Seminole’s Head Coaching job in 1980.

Despite a historical 2018 season that had its fair share of ups and downs, Martin has been under a load of scrutiny after a head-scratching decision to put starting pitcher Drew Parrish back in the game after a rain delay that was two hours plus.

Parrish who pitch count was already over a 100 pitches was in the midst of argurably his best outing of the year before Dick Howser went under delay. Once the weather cleared and the ‘Noles were held scoreless in the top half of the ninth, Martin gave Parrish the call to finish his complete game shutout and send the Bulldogs back to Starkville; which gave way to Macnamee’s 3 run walk off shot to advance out of the loser’s bracket in the Tallahassee regional.

“I think that any time that you have a two-and-a-half hour delay, you’re probably surprised to see the starting pitcher go back out, but not shocked,” MSU coach Gary Henderson said to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Not shocked? Myself and the rest of the FSU baseball community was. Parrish who through over 130 pitches in his 8.2 innings, and the decision to put him back in after the lengthy delay means after warming back up and throwing in the bullpen Parrish would have easily been over 150 pitches for the day, and sending him back out there for the 9th showed the confidence Martin had in freshman relief pitchers  CJ Van Eyk and Jonah Scolaro.

Was it a bad decision at a bad time, or are we the fans being too hard on the covenant manager? Martin justified his decision by stating “Drew knows exactly what he’s doing” and that “he was in total control of the situation”, but this year’s 0-2 exit means another year FSU baseball goes without a title; even despite the record-breaking year Martin and ‘Noles put forth in 2018.

Head Coach Mike Martin will be entering his 40th year as the Head Coach of the Florida State Program, and has yet to make a definite response on a looming retirement. FSU athletic director Stan Wilcox and Coach Martin plan to meet when Wilcox returns from Women’s College World Series.

Until then we just have to wait. Although what we can go off of is the track record of Martin’s previous contracts. For the most part since ‘80 Martin and FSU Administrators have worked with year to year contracts, until 2016 where Martin signed a two year extension that expires this year. Yet nevertheless the FSU baseball community is thriving for a national title, and only making 2 CWS appearances in 6 years only adds fuel to the flame.

What we do know is that if 11 does return next year he will be 13 wins away from becoming the first collegiate coach to reach 2000 wins, and has a team returning some serious talent despite the stature of the roster if certain juniors declare to go pro.

No definite response has been set in stone, and no negotiations will take place until after the Women’s World Series. Maybe 11 returns but after this year’s regional blunder on top of the nation’s leading 21 CWS appearances without a title, maybe it’s time for FSU Athletics to venture outside the norm and make a change in the dugout. On a side note that change does not include 11’s son Mike Martin Jr.

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