The Daily Nole

FSU Baseball: Seminoles to Rely Heavily on Young Starting Pitching in NCAA Tournament

Larry Novey/FSU athletics

Florida State will have the home crowd behind it as it prepares for its 39th straight NCAA Tournament appearance and sixth straight Tallahassee Regional. What the Seminoles probably won’t have on their side during the regional is a veteran arm in the rotation.

With redshirt senior Mike Compton limited with tendinitis in his elbow, sophomore Drew Carlton and freshmen Cole Sands and Tyler Holton are all expected to get the ball in Tallahassee this weekend. All three enter the tournament with momentum on their side.

“For coaches to have your back, that says a lot,” Holton said during a media session Wednesday. “I’m grateful.”

Carlton allowed three runs in five innings his last time out against N.C. State, but was masterful in his start before that. In a May 19 loss to Miami, Carlton allowed just a run on two hits in five innings to get the no-decision. Carlton was outstanding in last year’s Tallahassee Regional, working 6 2/3 shutout innings and striking out nine in an 8-1 win over College of Charleston.

Tallahassee freshmen Sands and Holton are each coming off exceptional performances in the ACC Tournament. After getting shelled his previous time out against Miami, Sands allowed just a run in five innings of work in a 6-1 victory over Georgia Tech last Thursday in Durham.

“Me and Cole Sands grew up here and we went to a lot of games here,” Holton said. “We know what this atmosphere feels like. It’s obviously very serious at this point in our college careers. We’ve been there, done that in pretty much every situation this year. We’re just going to go out and try to get some Ws.”

Holton has balanced his time pretty evenly this season as a starter and a reliever. Entering the regional, Holton might be the hottest FSU pitcher. Despite the 2-3 record, Holton’s 2.89 ERA is the best among Seminoles with at least five starts.

“Some guys are slow in developing,” head coach Mike Martin said Wednesday. “He wasn’t the Tyler six weeks ago as he is the Tyler from June the first.”

Each of Holton’s last two starts have come against rival Miami, who was awarded the No.3 national seed on Monday. In Holton’s two starts — both FSU victories — he’s allowed just three total runs on nine hits in 12 innings while walking three and striking out 17.

“I feel like I can pitch against anybody now,” Holton said. “There’s no reason to think that there’s anybody I can’t get out.”

FSU and its young staff will begin the NCAA Tournament on Friday night against Alabama State. The double-elimination Tallahassee Regional also features Southern Mississippi and South Alabama.

Robert Blackburn contributed to this article

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