Dick Howser Stadium plays host to the biggest series of not only the weekend, but of the season for the 4th ranked Florida State Seminoles (32-9, 16-5) as they take on the top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers (35-7, 16-5).
This series is huge in that it offers an opportunity for the NCAA baseball tournament committee to watch two of the top teams in the country go at it this weekend with the ACC tournament just weeks away. FSU and UVA are each the top team in their respective divisions in the ACC and both are expected to reach the ACC tournament final as well as Omaha. Florida State comes into this game having won six of its last seven, and will need to ride the hot bats of Danny De La Calle and John Nogowski as well as excellent bullpen pitching to get through this series against one of the top pitching staffs in the nation.
Florida State and its pitching staff have been an ACC afterthought due to Virginia’s excellent play thus far this season and the ‘Noles will have a major chip on their shoulder heading into this weekend’s three-game series. FSU pitcher Luke Weaver (6-3, 2.83 ERA) will need to duplicate his outing from last Friday versus Wake — he threw a full nine innings with seven strikeouts, only giving up one earned run on three hits — in order for the Seminoles to succeed. Opposite Weaver, the very impressive Virginia left-hander Nathan Kirby (8-1, 1.36 ERA) will get the start for the Cavaliers.
Mike Compton (3-1, 3.70 ERA) will take on UVA right-hander Josh Sborz (4-2, 2.81 ERA) Saturday night. Compton pitched a solid outing last week vs. Wake Forest, but this Virginia offense is a whole different animal (.277 average, 22 HR’s and 216 RBI’s). Given all the talk of Virginia’s pitching, the offense has been heavily underrated, but nothing this Seminoles pitching staff cannot handle. Compton will need to keep his ball under control and avoid any early inning mistakes so the ‘Noles can get a feel for Sborz, and put up some run support for the Seminole bullpen.
Bryant Holtmann (5-0, 3.24 ERA) will make his 2nd straight Sunday start after giving up two earned runs on four hits in 4.2 innings of work last Sunday vs. Wake Forest and the run support simply wasn’t enough for him to stay in the game. The Seminoles left 10 runners on base and could never recover, losing 4-3 to Wake Forest. Peter Miller came in and pitched 2 innings of relief and received the loss after giving up a run on two hits. Holtmann will need to receive some run support from the ‘Noles offense and go deep into this ball game as he takes on another UVA stud, left-hander Brandon Waddell (5-2, 2.93 ERA).
Every game matters down the stretch here for the Seminoles especially games vs. top opponents such as Virginia. It is worth noting that the last time a top-5 team came to Tallahassee was earlier this season when the ‘Noles swept then #5 NC State. The ACC regular season trophy is up for grabs and the ‘Noles are in prime position to take it with a home-field advantage this weekend vs the Cavs. Florida State will look to impress the voters this weekend and dethrone the #1 team in the nation.