The Daily Nole

FSU Baseball: Seminoles Make Statement by Taking Series with Louisville

Larry Novey/FSU athletics

Entering this weekend’s series against No. 4 Louisville, Florida State had shown it was capable of beating good teams. N.C. State, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech and College of Charleston were all examples of that. What FSU hadn’t shown however, was the ability to beat a great team.

Against its stiffest competition, Florida State had dropped a pair of contests to rival Florida. The Seminoles were blanked 6-0 on March 15 in Gainesville before dropping a tightly-contested 3-2 game in Jacksonville on March 29.

Louisville began the week ranked fourth by Baseball America and with a record of 23-5. With a lineup that includes Corey Ray, Brendan McKay, Devin Hairston and Will Smith, the Cardinals have scored more runs than anyone else in the ACC.

On the mound, Louisville leads the ACC in opponent batting average and has the second best ERA. The rotation of McKay, Drew Harrington and Kade McClure is arguably the best in the conference while Sam Bordner and Zack Burdi have each been solid out of the bullpen.

“When you’re playing a team like Louisville, you want to see how you stack up,” FSU head coach Mike Martin said after Sunday’s win. “I think we played very well in a couple of these games.”

With the exception of Harrington’s gem on Saturday in which the Cardinals handled FSU, 7-1 at Dick Howser Stadium, the Seminoles outclassed a school many feel are destined for Omaha.

The opener on Friday looked for the longest time that it would go the way of Louisville. The Cardinals raced to an early lead and every time that FSU would cut into the lead, Louisville seemed to have an answer.

Like they have for most of the season however, the Seminoles continued to show their resiliency. After the Cardinals pushed across a pair of runs in the seventh inning to take a 7-5 lead, FSU exploded for seven in the bottom half to seize control of the contest.

Of the seven FSU runs in the frame, five came with two outs. It was a 2-run blast from catcher Cal Raleigh that put Florida State ahead for good, but the Seminoles took advantage of every Louisville miscue in the frame for an eventual 12-7 victory.

On Sunday, it was simply a case of domination. After two and a half scoreless innings, FSU put up a 5-spot in the third, thanks largely to a grand slam off the bat of Dylan Busby.

The Seminoles added three more in the fourth inning and six more in the fifth to make the contest even more of a laugher. John Sansone had a 2-run single in the fifth while Raleigh would add a 2-run double in a 16-5 rout.

“Obviously, I didn’t expect this,” Martin said. “I just can’t say enough about our ball club and the way we bounced back.”

Entering the series, Louisville had held opponents to five runs or fewer in 23 of its 28 games. On 15 of those occasions, the Cardinals had allowed two runs or fewer.

Prior to this weekend’s series in Tallahassee, the most runs Louisville had given up in any 3-game stretch was 17. FSU nearly equaled that on Sunday while finishing with 29 for the series.

By taking two of three from the Cardinals, Florida State improved to 22-8 on the season, 18-5 at home and an ACC-best 9-2 in conference play.

“It’s nice to accomplish what we did, but everyone in the clubhouse knows we’re at the halfway point,” Martin said Sunday.

As Florida State fans know better than maybe anyone, championships aren’t won in March or April, but in June. If this weekend’s series shows anything however, it’s that FSU is capable of beating teams good enough to get to Omaha. Whether or not the Seminoles can get to the College World Series themselves, is up to them.

“I’ve said it since Day 1 and I hope it doesn’t change any time soon,” Martin said. “I like this baseball team.”

Robert Blackburn contributed to this report

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