Preview: Virginia Tech vs. FSU (3/8-3/9)

Haylee Blitch

FSU baseball could make history this week with two wins against Virginia Tech. Mike Martin is just two wins away from 2,000 career wins, a milestone that has never been reached by any NCAA coach in any sport. FSU will also be opening up ACC play this weekend, after going 11-0 in non-conference play to start the season. The Noles are coming off a walk-off win versus a decent North Florida team, who had already beaten UF in a midweek game earlier this season. FSU’s bullpen combined to throw 8.2 scoreless innings after Antonio Velez had a tough first career start, struggling with command in the cold. Elijah Cabell hit a game-tying HR in the 7th before Nander De Sedas hit a walk-off double off the RF fence as FSU’s freshmen continue to dominate.

So far this season, three of FSU’s top four hitters are freshmen. Robby Martin is hitting .477 and driving in nearly two runs a game, Elijah Cabell is hitting .353 and is tied for the team lead in extra base hits, and Nander De Sedas is hitting .303 while playing superb defense shortstop. Matheu Nelson has also been solid behind the plate and coming around at the dish the last few games. Junior leader Drew Mendoza has been the most powerful force in the lineup so far, hitting five HR’s and slugging .906 through the first 11 games.

The strongest part of the team so far this season has been the bullpen, highlighted by Conor Grady, Clayton Kwiatkowski and JC Flowers. So far this season, FSU has given up eight runs in 53 innings of relief (1.36 ERA). The Noles have strong trios of lefties and righty pitchers, Conor Grady, Chase Haney, and Tyler Ahearn from the right, and Clayton Kwiatkowski, Antonio Velez, and Jonah Scolaro. Grady and Kwiatkowski are yet to allow a run in 2019 and Scolaro and Haney have each only given up one run each. Velez has only given up one run in 10.1 innings of relief, the most of any reliever. JC Flowers caps off the bullpen as the electric closer FSU has missed in recent seasons. Flowers was the number one RHP in the state of Florida coming out of high school, but touched the mound for the first time at FSU this season. Flowers has struck out five and only allowed two baserunners in three scoreless innings of work.

FSU’s first ACC opponent, VT, has gone 8-3 so far this season, outscoring their opponents 61-30. Offensively, Kerry Carpenter and Carson Tyler have carried the weight for the Hokies. Carpenter has hit 5 HR’s on the season while slashing a line of .349/.451/.767. Tyler has been the Hokies’ most consistent hitter, hitting .390 on the season and reaching base nearly 50% of the time. The Hokies have struggled defensively making 13 errors in just 11 games, a contrast to FSU’s 2 errors in 11 games. Last season, VT went 21-33 and finished last in the ACC Coastal. The Noles last played the Hokies in Blacksburg in 2017, winning 2/3 games. If FSU can win 2/3 games this weekend, it will be historic.

Game 1: 6 PM, Friday 3/8

Drew Parrish has started his season off nearly untouchable. The preseason All-American has had a .146 batting average against him through 15 IP. Martin extended Parrish out to six innings this past weekend, but the reigns could be off this weekend, as Parrish could go deep into the game. FSU’s bullpen could use an extra day of rest after throwing 8.2 innings on Wednesday. Parrish will be opposed by Ian Seymour, who has started each weekend opener for the Hokies so far this season. Seymour is a 6 foot, 190 lefty pitcher that made the All-ACC freshman team last season. Seymour throws in the upper 80’s to low 90’s like Parrish, and will mix in a good amount of off speed. So far this season, Seymour has a 2.77 ERA in 13.2 innings of work. It’s supposed to be 68 and sunny at first pitch.

Game 2: 12 PM, Saturday 3/9

CJ Van Eyk has been electric so far this season, hitting 97 MPH on the gun multiple times and throwing plus curveballs to make hitters look silly. Van Eyk, just like Parrish, has an ERA of 3.00 through 15 innings of work. He has struck out 22 batters, good for 13.2 K/9. Van Eyk will face off against freshman Chris Gerard, who has already made three starts this season. The freshman has only given up 1 run in 14 innings of work and has yet to give up an extra base hit. The 5-foot-10, 175 pounder will sit in the high 80’s and could reach the low 90’s against the Noles. Gerard is another lefty, so it will be a good test for FSU, who has struggled with lefty pitchers so far this season. G1 of the Saturday double header will begin at noon, when it should be about 70 degrees and partly cloudy.

Game 3: 4 PM, Saturday 3/9

Shane Drohan has won the battle for the 3rd weekend spot in the rotation early on this season after Austin Pollock’s struggles. Drohan has been effective, allowing only 4 hits in 8.2 innings of work, but has struggled with command, walking 12 batters. In total, the lefty has only allowed one run so far this season, but needs to show more command of his pitches to continue his success in ACC play. Drohan will face off against redshirt senior, Luke Scherzer. Scherzer missed two seasons at VT due to two separate Tommy John surgeries, but has fought back to earn a spot in the Hokie rotation this year. So far, Luke has compiled a 4.76 ERA in 11.1 innings of work. Scherzer will be the only righty starter that the Noles face this weekend. G2 of the double header will begin approximately 45 minutes after the ending of game 1.

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