The Daily Nole

What to Watch For Wednesday: FSU Baseball Prepares for Regional, MLB Draft

Jeremy Esbrandt/D'Vel Photography/FSU athletics

Florida State baseball and the men’s and women’s outdoor track and field teams are the only programs still playing, but the NCAA Track and Field Championships don’t begin until next week.

TALLAHASSEE REGIONAL
This week, FSU baseball will put its season on the line as it makes the short trip to Athens for the NCAA Regional. Hosting the regional will be Georgia, the nation’s No. 4 national seed. Should FSU get eliminated, this weekend will be the last in the legendary career of head coach Mike Martin.

As for FSU, it will open on Friday afternoon against Florida Atlantic. The Seminoles are the No. 3 seed in the double-elimination regional while the Owls are the regional’s No. 2 seed.

Florida Atlantic won 40 games this season and earned an at-large bid after falling to Southern Mississippi for the Conference USA title. The Owls are hitting .299 as a team and rank 21st nationally in that category.

Junior Eric Rivera is hitting .340 this season to lead the team with team-highs of 59 runs, 85 hits and 11 stolen bases. Francisco Urbaez has a team-high 10 home runs while senior Joe Montes has a team-leading 51 RBIs.

On the mound, Blake Sanderson is FAU’s ace with an 8-2 record and 3.93 ERA. At the back end of the bullpen, senior Zach Schneider ranks fourth in the country with 15 saves.

The winner of FSU and FAU will play either Georgia, the region’s top seed, or Mercer, the No. 4 seed in the region, on Saturday. The losers will also square off.

Georgia is 44-15 and was a remarkable 28-3 in Athens this season. The Bulldogs earned an at-large bid after falling to Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament.

2-way player Aaron Schunk led Georgia this season with a .336 average, 72 hits, 11 home runs and 45 RBIs. L.J. Talley, a senior infielder, also enjoyed an outstanding year with a .327 batting average, 49 runs scored and eight home runs. Schunk also served as the team’s closer with 12 saves and a 2.49 ERA.

Georgia’s starting pitching trio of Emerson Hancock, Tony Locey and Tim Elliott combined to go 24-7 this season with all boasting an ERA under three. Hancock was 8-2 with a 1.56 ERA en route to being named a first-team All-SEC selection. He ranked seventh in the nation in earned run average among qualified players.

Mercer earned an automatic bid after winning the Southern Conference Tournament. The Bears were swept by FSU when they visited Tallahassee to kick off the month of March.

For Mercer, Kel Johnson is the hitter to watch with a .297 average, 22 home runs — good for sixth nationally — 64 RBIs and 52 runs scored. Kyle Dockus is hitting a team-best .317 at the top of the order and leads the Bears with a .416 on-base percentage and 17 stolen bases. Starting pitcher Kevin Coulter was 8-5 this season with a 3.95 ERA and was named second-team All-SoCon.

For the Seminoles, freshman Robby Martin leads the team with a .346 batting average to go with 51 RBIs. J.C. Flowers and Drew Mendoza have supplied the power this season. Mendoza leads the team with 14 home runs while Flowers isn’t far behind with 12. Flowers leads the team with 52 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. Mendoza has 50 RBIs and a team-best .481 on-base percentage.

Flowers has also been solid on the mound for the Seminoles as a reliever with a 1.59 ERA in 22.2 innings and 11 saves. Starting pitchers Drew Parrish and C.J. Van Eyk both had solid outings at the ACC Tournament in Durham last week.

MLB DRAFT
The 3-day long Major League Baseball Draft begins on Monday and will last through next Wednesday. A number of FSU players could hear their names called within the next week.

Mendoza, Flowers, Parrish, Mike Salvatore, Chase Haney and Clayton Kwiatkowski are among the Seminoles who are candidates to be drafted. FSU had seven players selected last year and 13 over the last two drafts

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at Mike@TheDailyNole.com.

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