By: Ryan Kelly | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
March 4, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Florida State Seminoles (11-0) stayed perfect on the year with a sweep of the UNC Asheville Bulldogs (2-8) this weekend.
The trio of wins will more than ensure the ‘Noles keep their consensus top five ranking and puts Seminole skipper Mike Martin only 21 wins away from becoming the winningest head coach in the history of Division I baseball.
Friday: Florida State 9, UNC Asheville 2
In a game in which the Seminoles scored early and often, FSU used its patented plate patience to generate nine walks and three multi run innings, including a three run 4th and a four run 6th. Junior catcher Cal Raleigh led the charge for the garnet and gold, going 3-for-4 from the dish and driving in four runs on the evening.
“It felt good,” said Raleigh of his breakthrough outing on Friday. “I’ve been working on some mechanical stuff and approach.”
In his second Friday night start, Cole Sands delivered a statistically decent day (5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 8K) despite control issues that would see him give up two walks and two wild pitches.
“It’s pretty refreshing,” Sands said after the game of his day after lamenting his control. “Last year, it seemed like I always got beat with a home run or double after double. So this year it’s refreshing to look up and even on my worst night it’s not a huge number up there.”
Saturday: Florida State 4, UNC Asheville 3
The Tribe won in walkoff fashion as Drew Mendoza hit an RBI single to score Rhett Aplin and keep FSU perfect on the season. The sophomore third baseman’s 4-for-5 evening would eclipse his strong 3-for-4 performance from the day before, often beating a shift in both of those outings to get a hit.
“We love our fans but in that situation we don’t want to hear anybody,” said Mendoza of his focus during the game winning at-bat. “To be able to clear our minds and do what we need to do in that situation, that’s really the key.”
Sophomore Drew Parrish had a superb outing on the mound (5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 9 K, 3 BB) that would be somewhat overshadowed by freshman Conor Grady. The newcomer entered the game in the top of the ninth with runners on the corners and no outs only to have the bases loaded after an infield single without a Seminole covering first. Grady retired three straight Bulldog batters to keep the score level.
“Here’s a freshman pitching in an environment that is just fantastic,” said Martin of his winning pitcher. “He is in total control of his emotions, hitting his spots. Coach Mike Bell did a great job of calling the game.”
“It was a big win for us because it could have been a big loss,” Martin continued.
Sunday: Florida State 4, UNC Asheville 2
In a sub-three hour game, Florida State allowed only three hits while using a three-run sixth inning to power past UNC Asheville for the sweep. The Seminoles used two freshman arms in the game, with starter Austin Pollock and reliever CJ Van Eyk getting the win and the save respectively.
The duo combined for a three hit, two run, 16 strikeout performance that impressed the ‘Noles skipper.
“That’s pretty neat when all you have to make is 11 plays,” Martin said of the efficiency of his young staff. “It was an impressive day for those two freshman and for us to be successful this year, we’ve got to get production out of our freshmen.”
On the offensive front, it was Rhett Aplin who scored the go-ahead run for the Seminoles in the 6th frame as well as batting in a RBI to open the scoring in the first. Mendoza, Nick Derr and Jonathan Foster all recorded an RBI as well.
The Seminoles will see no rest after this three game series, with a two-game homestand against Kansas starting on Monday.
“It’s kind of like a mindset and coach preaches it all the time,” Aplin remarked about preparing for five straight days of baseball. “Every game is a new game… and if you can’t do that for sixty ball games you don’t have the right mentality.”