FSU baseball: 3 keys to winning series against Wake Forest

Florida State infielder Drew Faurot (3) celebrates scoring with outfielder James Tibbs III (22)
Florida State infielder Drew Faurot (3) celebrates scoring with outfielder James Tibbs III (22) / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA

No. 5 FSU baseball (30-6, 10-5 ACC) will have an opportunity to make some major noise this weekend after suffering its first non-conference loss Tuesday night against the Mercer Bears. The Noles will travel to Winston-Salem to take on No. 14 Wake Forest in the first of three ACC schools based in North Carolina. Wake Forest (24-12, 9-9 ACC) lost its midweek game against in-state UNCW. The two teams have played Louisville and Boston College and won two of three. The Demon Deacons bring a .284 batting average and .406 on-base percentage into the contest.

They have hit 77 doubles, nine triples, 68 home runs, and strike out in 25 percent of their at-bats. Wake Forest's starting pitchers on the weekends are very good, averaging more than a strikeout per inning. However, their bullpen doesn't have much depth and can be had. Defensively, they bring a solid .971 fielding percentage into the contest. Jamie Arnold and Carson Dorsey are the known starting pitchers, with Cam Leiter and Conner Whittaker still out. I'm not sure who'll start the third game, but it'll likely be a Johnny Wholestaff approach. 

3 Keys To Beating Wake Forest

Wake Forest plays in a small stadium similar to Clemson, and it's 310 down LF, 300 down RF, 370 LC, 367 RC, and 400 to CF. The Demon Deacons play similarly to Florida, relying on the long ball to generate much of their offense. FSU pitchers must keep the bases clean and avoid walks. Wake Forest will probably leave the yard some, but solo home runs can be managed. Jamie Arnold will have to match Chase Burns in game one. The latter has double-digit strikeouts in nearly every game he's pitched this year and goes into the sixth and seventh innings nearly every outing.

FSU batters must be patient at the plate and force Wake Forest starting pitchers to work. However, it's a fine line because they don't walk many people. They can't afford to consistently get behind in the count because their starting pitchers usually put guys away when they have hitters in the hole. If FSU batters can get into the Wake Forest bullpen, they can do some damage in that small ballpark themselves. There will be some frustrating at-bats this weekend, but they must take advantage in hitter counts and when they have guys in scoring position. 

Defensively, FSU can't afford to give Wake Forest extra outs. FSU has played solid defense for the majority of the season. However, they'll need to make the plays when given the opportunity because Wake Forest can change the game with one swing. This will likely be the best starting pitching FSU has seen, but it's likely the best offense Wake Forest pitchers have seen.

Friday's game will begin at 6 p.m. and will air on the ACCNX channel.

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