May 13, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. - Florida State enters tonight's baseball series at NC State's Doak Field at Dail Park with a lot at stake. With a three-game lead in the ACC's Atlantic Division - and only six league games remaining - the Seminoles could claim their fifth division title in six seasons during the penultimate series.
Mike Martin's club, which ranks as high as No. 6 nationally and is angling for top-eight NCAA postseason seed, leads Clemson by three games in the division race. The Seminoles and Tigers square off next week in Tallahassee, but FSU could have already clinched the division title by posting one more win at NC State than the Tigers manage this weekend at Virginia Tech.
The Seminoles and Wolfpack squared off four times last season, with FSU claiming three games, including an 8-3 victory in the ACC Tournament championship game. It was the Seminoles' fifth title since joining the league in 1992. FSU leads the all-time series 53-23 and has been especially successful of late. The `Noles have won 8 of the last 9 meetings between the teams, including a three-game sweep of the Wolfpack the last time they visited Raleigh in 2009.
The Seminoles are in the midst of their best run since the start of the season, winning 13 of their last 15 games. The hot streak has pushed FSU to the brink of a capturing a fifth Atlantic title in six seasons of divisional play.
Last season's regular season series with the Wolfpack in Tallahassee saw the Seminoles bounce back from a 5-2 opening game loss with consecutive 7-5 and 12-9 victories. The final game was stopped after seven innings due to travel restrictions.
FSU and NC State have played six common opponents thus far in 2011 - Duke, Wake Forest, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. The Seminoles are 11-7 against those six, while the Wolfpack are 9-9. State swept North Carolina 3-0, while FSU was 1-2. FSU was 2-1 at Miami, where the `Pack were swept in a three-game series.
Florida State sophomore second baseman Devon Travis is not expected to play in tonight's series opener as he continues to rehab from a left ankle sprain suffered prior to Tuesday's game at Stetson. If Travis is unavailable, Sherman Johnson will likely replace him at second base with Rafael Lopez moving to third and Parker Brunelle handling the catching duties.
Stuart Tapley, who drove in three runs in Tuesday's win at Stetson after missing two weeks, is not expected to join the Seminoles in Raleigh. His father, Ken Tapley, passed away Thursday in Orlando, two weeks after suffering a stroke.