April 14, 2011
BLACKSBURG, Va. - After dispatching its touted rival for the third time in four tries Tuesday night, Mike Martin's Florida State baseball team faces a different kind of challenge this weekend with a three-game road stand at Virginia Tech.
The eight-ranked Seminoles (24-9, 9-6 ACC) may not face the same kind of challenges presented by fourth-ranked Florida, but the Hokies (18-17, 3-12) are clearly a team that is far more competitive than their record would indicate. Consider this, seven of Virginia Tech's Atlantic Coast Conference losses have come by a total of 11 runs.
Pete Hughes' team has suffered one- and two-run losses in series setbacks to Miami, North Carolina and Boston College. The Hokies also came up two runs shy of sweeping Wake Forest last weekend, when they secured their first ACC series of the season.
Martin knows all too well that Hughes' club will be prepared to challenge the `Noles, just as they did a year ago, when they won the first two games in Tallahassee to win their first-ever series against FSU.
"Any time that you're coming off a big win, you hope that's the momentum you need to go on the road and play a very good Virginia Tech club," said Martin, whose club wrapped up the season series against Florida with a 3-1 win at home on Tuesday. "What, of course, bothers me the most is the fact that players see a 3-12 record and think they [Virginia Tech] are not any good.
"Well, they beat us two-out-of-three last year, and they've got a lot of the guys back. If you look at the scores, they've lined up against people with talent, like Miami, North Carolina and Boston College, and very few runs separate the teams. You better be ready to play every out, because they're capable of beating you two-out-of-three; certainly capable of sweeping you, if they came to your place and beat you two-out-of-three."
The Seminoles will send staff ace Sean Gilmartin (6-0, 1.29) to the mound in Friday's 5:30 p.m. series opener at English Field, hoping to build on the momentum. Gilmartin, however, will be the only familiar face in the weekend rotation for the `Noles. Junior right-hander Mack Waugh will make his first career start in Saturday's ACC Game of the Week (FoxSports Florida, 1 p.m.). Junior Hunter Scantling, who was brilliant in victory against Florida, will make his weekend debut in Sunday's 1 p.m. finale.
While the weather report is not favorable throughout the weekend, the Seminoles must also weather a Virginia Tech lineup that leads the ACC in home runs (43), led by league-leader Andrew Rash (11) and shortstop Tim Smalling (7).
"We've got to play well this weekend to beat them," Martin said.