These two teams met in the biggest games since the 1996 CWS. Florida State won the season series 2 games to one this season with one game in Tallahassee and two in Gainesville.
Florida State is led by Aaron Cheesemen and Shane Robinson on offense. Cheeseman is a Fifth year senior catcher who hit .299 Avg with 50 RBI’s. He also threw out 40 % of his runners. Robinson hit .434 Avg with 48 steals in 55 attempts. This kid is a little guy that knows how to get on base and score runs. He scored 94 runs this season in 71 games. He also broke an FSU record with a 40 game hit streak. Robinson was named Collegiate Baseball’s National Player of the year and is one of four finalists for the Xanthus-Dick Howser Trophy.
The main problem for Florida State this year has been their pitching staff after Bryan Henry. He was named the top pitcher in the ACC this season with his 9-2 record and a 1.61 ERA. He has a strikeout to walk ratio of 55 to 17. After Henry the Seminoles rotation becomes really suspect with Mark Sauls and Michael Hyde. Sauls comes into the game 6-1 with a 3.68 ERA. The main problem with Sauls is that he has a 1 to 1 ratio of strikeouts to walks. Michael Hyde is 7-2 with 4.40 ERA. Hyde pitched against Army in the opening round of the tournament and only let up 2 runs in 6 innings but the Gators are a little bit better then the Cadets.
Florida’s offense is led by Matt LaPorta who has hit .336 AVG and has 24 Homeruns with 73 RBI’s. His counterpart in their offensive attack is the rest of his team. None of the other players are outstanding on their own merits but are very solid players who know how to get on base for the big hitter LaPorta. Senior Center Fielder Jeff Corsaletti is one of these types of players who hit .378 this season and was a fifth round pick of the World Champion Boston Red Sox. Florida is well rounded and there is no let down in their order.
Florida’s top pitcher is Alan Horne who enters with 8-2 record and a 4.14 ERA. Horne’s numbers are very high for an ace on the staff but he has had problems in the first inning of many of his starts and tends to settle down as the game goes on. So the strategy is to jump on Horne early before he can get into a routine. The other two probable starters for the Gators are Bryan Ball (7-4 3.29 ERA) and Alan Horne (8-2 4.05 ERA). Based on the stats it looks like Ball has pitched better this season but is lacking the run support of Horne. I have seen both of these guys pitch and I believe that Ball has better stuff then Horne.
I believe the FSU wins this hotly contested series in three games taking games 1 and 3 to win.