FSU baseball: 3 Major takeaways from First Pitch Invitational

Much Improved thus far...
Florida State outfielder Jaime Ferrer (7) watches a ball fly in the sky after making contact on his
Florida State outfielder Jaime Ferrer (7) watches a ball fly in the sky after making contact on his / Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat / USA

FSU baseball won its 10th consecutive game to open the 2024 season with an 8-3 win over Western Michigan. The Noles defeated Michigan State 11-2 in Saturday's afternoon game before defeating a scrappy Illinois team 13-7 Saturday night. The Noles started the 2023 season strong, winning their first six and seven of their first eight. However, an injury to pitching ace Wyatt Crowell, leadoff hitter DeAmez Ross, and lack of depth on the mound led to a disastrous first season back for Link Jarrett. I had someone ask me on social media if this 2024 team was legit or playing against weak competition. My reply is a little of both, and I think how FSU performed in this mini-tournament supports my belief. FSU hasn't faced anyone I'd deem a great team. Aside from Jacksonville, the competition has been inferior overall, but FSU has largely taken care of business. Here are my three major takeaways from the First Pitch Invitational:

Starting Pitching

Jamie Arnold has solidified himself as the most consistent and best starter in the young season. His performance against Michigan State was excellent. He went six innings, allowed seven hits, ZERO walks, and had seven strikeouts. I know Cam Leiter is the Friday starter, but he got rocked pretty good and had command issues for the second straight start. He failed to get out of the fifth inning against Illinois, although the FSU offense has spotted him a few runs early. Leiter issued seven walks in his last two starts (9.1 innings) and thrown 181 pitches. He will have to be better once FSU enters real competition in the ACC if the Noles plan to be a good ballclub. I expect Conner Whittaker to be the Sunday starter at some point, but the bullpen did a solid job in Sunday's game.


FSU played solid defense in the three games over the past two days. Alex Lodise committed a throwing error, and a pitcher made a throwing error on a pick-off play at first base. From a defensive perspective, I'll call that one error on the past three games, and the fielding percentage is up to .977 through eight games. The defense made the routine plays when opposing offenses put the ball in play, which was important because these teams had runners on base quite frequently. FSU pitchers allowed 14 walks and 29 hits over the three games but only allowed 12 runs, mostly because the defense was sound.

Offensive Power Surging

FSU has scored 7+ runs in every game and batting .367, with an on-base percentage at.469. I stated in preseason, I thought this team would hit, and they've been hitting, but now the power has started to surge, and they have walked more than they've struckout. FSU batters hit .340 with RISP in the last three games, and 33 percent of their hits went for extra bases (14 of 43). Jaime Ferrer hit his first two home runs over the last two days. James Tibbs continues to rake, and Alex Lodise hit his first home run as a Noles Sunday. One other thing I want to point out is the baserunning has been exceptionally better through the first 10 games. They have stolen 21 of 22 base attempts and do a great job reading balls in the dirt to take the next base.

This team is better than last year by a good bit. The offense will show up most days and give FSU a shot to win games. The defense isn't elite, but it's solid. FSU still has work to do in the bullpen as roles continue to get defined, but I like where this team is right now.

Next. Three reasons why the Noles will cover their over/under win total for the 2024 season. Three reasons why the Noles will cover their over/under win total for the 2024 season. dark