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CBD Column: 2012 Tallahassee Super Regional Preview


  • Game 1: Friday, June 8, 7pm (ET) on ESPN2
  • Game 2: Saturday, June 9, 6pm (ET) on ESPN2
  • Game 3: Sunday, June 10, 7pm (ET) on ESPN2 (if necessary)

Park: Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium

Teams: #1 Stanford Cardinal (41-16) vs. #1 Florida State Seminoles (46-15)

*Florida State is the #3 National Seed for the 2012 CWS 

Location & Travel Note:

The Stanford baseball team will be traveling about 2,600 miles across the country to meet their Super Regional opponent in the Florida State Seminoles. Travel will not play that large of a factor with a mentally tough team in Stanford, but a factor to make note of nonetheless. Only Kent St. and St. John’s will be facing an equal travel distance this weekend to Oregon and Arizona.

Weather Outlook for Tallahassee, FL:

Typical Florida weather will be in effect for this series. High temperatures reaching into the 90 degree range with rain always a possibility. As always, weather predictions can say one thing and it can turn out to be something completely different.

Stanford will have to adjust quickly to the different temperature and climate, but they are a mentally tough team and should not play much of a factor for their squad.

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Game 1

Stanford: RHP #26 Mark Appel 2.27 ERA (10-1)

Florida State: LHP #37 Brandon Leibrandt 2.65 ERA (7-2)

Game 2

Florida State: RHP #17 Mike Compton 2.78 ERA (11-2)

Stanford: LHP #34 Brett Mooneyham 4.26 ERA (7-5)

Game 3

Stanford: RHP #25 Stephen Piscotty 3.05 ERA (6-2)

Florida State: RHP #26 Scott Sitz 3.99 ERA (3-3)

Pitching Note:

Florida State’s #22 RHP Robert Benincasa has a 1.29 ERA and a 4-1 record. He has been an outstanding closer for the Seminoles this year and I would expect that Stanford will see him at the end of each game. Also for the Seminoles, RHP #19 Gage Smith has a 2.70 ERA and a 4-0 record. Smith has been the unsung hero for the Seminoles this year as a setup man coming in for relief in many tough situations and standing tall in more than most. Pitching and overall defense is what this Seminole ball club has credited to much success this season. LHP #37 Brandon Leibrandt is the son of MLB pitcher Charlie Leibrandt. The Seminole pitching staff is young but capable. Both Leibrandt and Compton are freshman and have been the Friday and Saturday starters all season. There is a lot of faith riding on whether these young men can carry the Seminoles to Omaha.

Stanford’s #26 Mark Appel was drafted #8 overall in the MLB draft Monday night to the Pittsburgh Pirates and has carried the Cardinal all year long. Stanford has experience in their pitching staff with three junior starters anchored by Appel as one of the elite pitchers in the nation. Stanford looks to have a strong outing from whoever they have on the mound to capitalize on their experience and silence the Seminole bats.

Draft Highlight:

There are many talented players for both the Stanford and Florida State ball clubs, but I wanted to highlight on the top draftee for each team in this year’s MLB draft. For Stanford, the highlight was their ace pitcher Mark Appel going 8th overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates. For Florida State, Outfielder James Ramsey was selected 23rd overall by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Probable Batting Lineup:

Position

Stanford

Avg.

Position

Florida State

Avg.

CF

Jake Stewart

.290

3B

Sherman Johnson

.262

LF

Tyler Gaffney

.240

2B

Devon Travis

.310

DH

Stephen Piscotty

.318

CF

James Ramsey

.385

1B

Brian Ragira

.324

1B

Jayce Boyd

.390

RF

Austin Wilson

.283

C

Stephen McGee

.236

3B

Alex Blandino

.295

SS

Justin Gonzalez

.242

C

Eric Smith

.330

RF

Josh Delph

.270

2B

Danny Diekroeger

.360

DH

John Nogowski

.248

SS

Kenny Diekroeger

.269

LF

Jose Brizuela

.233

Stanford certainly has the more consistent batters and has the advantage over a Seminole offense that has been lagging mightily over the last three weeks. As I stated earlier, the foundation of the 2012 Seminole ball club is pitching and overall defense. The batting averages for the Seminoles may not be as impressive as the starters for Stanford, but this team knows how to draw walks and get on base one way or another to get the job done. Dick Howser Stadium has a shorter right field than most ball parks, but Florida State has its own version of the Boston Red Sox “green monster” with a fence that stretches above right field to make getting a homerun more difficult.

Florida State faced a power hitting team in Samford twice during their regional round and defeated Samford 8-1 and 5-2. Great pitching proved to be the strength once again. Florida State is also capable of hitting the occasional grand slam as evidenced by Captain James Ramsey this past weekend against Samford in the 8-1 victory.

Stanford had a tough time playing Pepperdine in their final two games starting off slow. They were down 4-0 in the first game against Pepperdine before coming back to win 5-4. They again fell behind 4-0 before coming back to win 8-7 in the championship game of their regional.

CWS Program History:

Stanford has been to the College World Series 16 times in school history. The Cardinal won the championship back-to-back in 1987 and 1988. Florida State has been to the College World Series 20 times in school history and were runners up on 3 occasions (1970, 1986, and 1999). They have appeared in the CWS the most of any school without a title. Stanford believes they have the pitching and bats to make a run for the championship while Florida State believes that they are unified toward their one goal of winning the championship. Both sides will clash in Tallahassee this weekend in what will prove to be a great series to watch!

Brief Season Overview:

STANFORD: Overall (40-16)

PAC-12 (17-12) Home (24-7) Away (14-9) Neutral (2-0)

The Cardinal started off the 2012 season strong with sweeps of both Vanderbilt and Texas at home as well as winning the series against Rice at home. They were able to ride through the PAC-12 regular season without much trouble, but did struggle being swept by Arizona and losing the series to Oregon, Oregon St., and California. Stanford did get a series win on the road against UCLA who is the #2 national seed in the tournament. Stanford was able to take care of business defeating Fresno St. and Pepperdine twice in the Regional Round to advance.

The Stanford Cardinal finished the season ranked 21st in scoring, 79th in OBP and 39th in slugging. In the regional, as they have done all year, the Stanford offense excelled and they pose a real challenge to the young staff of Florida State. Stanford’s pitching should be able to keep the Florida State bats at bay, especially if they show up cold as they have done many times over the past few weeks.

FLORIDA STATE: Overall (46-15)

ACC (24-6) Home (30-5) Away (15-6) Neutral (1-4)

The Seminoles knew that they had a young team and freshman starters (who are no longer pitching like freshman) for their pitching lineup on Friday and Saturday so they adjusted the schedule for that. The impressive wins for the Seminoles this year include sweeps of UCF, Virginia, Georgia Tech, and Miami. The Noles did struggle losing three games to Florida, the series at Clemson, and losing all three games in the ACC Tournament. However, the Seminoles have recovered from that proving they are still a viable team in June taking care of business in the Regional Round against UAB and twice against Samford to advance.

The Seminoles finished the season ranked 26th in scoring, 8th in OBP and 64th in slugging. They have been up and down on whether or not the bats want to show up to a game or just not show up at all. However, they seem to find a way to get on base one way or another and are never out of a game. The Cardinal will have to watch out for the Seminoles tricky methods of getting on to base if they want to ensure a game does not get away from them too quickly.

Prediction:

I predict this series to go to three games. Pitching will dominate the series. I believe Appel will be too much to handle for the struggling bats of Florida State, but Leibrandt will keep it close for the Seminoles. Florida State will find out quickly how far their freshman starters have matured over the course of the season. Can Leibrandt and Compton pitch beyond their freshman status? Florida State will not be swept at home and this will be a three game series. Stanford has shown some weakness on the road and this is a long trip for the Cardinal. I predict that Florida State will bounce back in game 2 and the home field advantage will energize them to a series win and advance to their 21st College World Series.

Florida State wins the series 2-1 to advance.

What to Watch For:

Great pitching, possible changes to game times due to weather, and the famous Animals of Section B at Dick Howser Stadium cheering on the Florida State Seminoles in the most unique fashion of any fans in the nation. The crowd continues to be a huge factor for the Florida State Seminoles year after year. Without a doubt, Florida State performs better at home than they do on the road. They will feed off of the crowd throughout this series and have confidence that together they can advance. The Stanford Cardinal must continue to play their style of baseball and believe in what they have done all season if they are to advance to Omaha.

Stanford Head Coach Mark Marquess has accumulated 1,462 wins going into the Super Regional and Florida State Head Coach Mike Martin has accumulated 1,719 wins. These two pillars in college baseball coaching will make a great story in itself for this Super Regional.

Stanford’s Mark Appel is a Golden Spikes Finalist against NCST’s Carlos Rodon and Florida’s Mike Zunino.

Florida State’s James Ramsey looks like he will win the Lowe’s Senior Class Award for highlighting excellence in Community, Classroom, Character, and Competition.

The series will come down to:

  • Stanford’s experience pitching vs. Florida State’s young pitching staff
  • Stanford’s struggles on the road vs. Florida State playing great at home

Personal Note:

This is a great time of the year as we await to see who will be the eight teams honored in Omaha, Nebraska for the College World Series. College baseball deserves more attention than just the final few weeks of the season. Both Stanford and Florida State are tremendous baseball programs full of rich history and tradition. I believe that this Super Regional is probably the best one of them all and would encourage any fan of college baseball to watch!

  • Nate Levine

    Great article.  It was very well written and unbiased despite the fact that the writer is an FSU fan. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.