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CHALK TALK: CWS Edition - Florida St


Around here, we all consider ourselves more well-rounded than most about college baseball, but even so, we all have gaps in our knowledge. And there’s no one better to educate us about other teams than someone who follows them as closely as we do our Tigers. I asked Curt Weiler with Tomahawk Nation to answer a few questions about the 38th edition of Mike Martin’s Seminole Baseball Club.

PodKATT: Florida State baseball is in the unique position of having one of, possibly the last, active living legend of college baseball coaching in Mike Martin. 38 40-win seasons in a row, over 1900 wins in his coaching career. This is his 16th trip to Omaha, and yet there was a lot of chatter among FSU fans, at least before this late season run, that the end might be coming sooner rather than later for his tenure. What's the general fan mood around Martin, a great coach who, despite all the success, has still never won the big one?

Curt Weiler: Let me begin by saying this: Martin's job is safe through next season when his contract expires. Even if FSU goes 0-2 in Omaha, Martin would need just 33 wins next season to become the winningest coach in college baseball history, something the administration cares deeply about.

With regard to how fans view Martin, the last few weeks have seen a huge reduction (at least in my twitter mentions) of the Fire Martin posters. That being said, the second a game is going south, be it FSU losing its regional opener to Tennessee Tech or trailing in the first game of the super regional to Sam Houston State, the fans come surging back in full force with the "I knew this was gonna happen" or "same coach, different year" kind of talk.

The fans have a lot of respect for Martin and what he has done for FSU, but on the whole many fans were starting to view it as another Bobby Bowden ending (it isn't) before this late run.

PK: I'll be honest and say that I haven't seen a lick of FSU baseball this year outside of a few highlights. Trying to figure out what the Noles do is a little baffling. It's one of the highest scoring offenses in the nation, and yet there doesn't appear to be a lot of slash lines on the roster that jump out at you. FSU leads the nation in walks, with a crazy 380 as a team this season, which speaks to immense patience at the plate. How would you describe the Florida State offense?

CW: This is an incredibly talented FSU lineup whose numbers underwhelm because they have had to deal with a plethora of injuries and bad breaks.

Entering the season, some thought this might be FSU's most talented lineup in program history. I wouldn't go that far, but the lineup is potent throughout and peaking at the right time.

The Seminoles' 1 through 6 hitters are all home run threats every time up and the entire team hits for contact and, as you mentioned, has some of the best plate discipline in the nation.

Taylor Walls is the ideal leadoff man and has raised his average 50 points over the last month. Dylan Busby, Quincy Nieporte, and Drew Mendoza have flashed incredible power. Jackson Lueck, a switch hitter with power from both sides of the plate, is one of the better hitters in the country and could be a very high draft pick this time next year.

Really, it has just been a matter of this offense finally piecing it together over the last few weeks and finally realizing its potential.

PK: FSU's arms have been pretty good all season, but have become nearly lights out since the start of the ACC tournament. What do you think is the cause for this improvement and who do you think will start against LSU?

CW: If I knew what has made the difference over the last few weeks, I could make myself a very rich man.

Since the start of the ACC Tournament, FSU's starting pitchers have amassed a 1.50 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 71.2 innings. This is the same weekend rotation which had two of its three pitchers holding ERAs over 5 heading into this stretch.

Tyler Holton will start against LSU for the Seminoles on Sunday. Holton (10-2, 2.25 ERA) is FSU's ace even though he pitched on Saturdays during the regular season. The lefty's stuff is only ok, with a fastball maxing out around 90 on a good day. However, he is saved by his pinpoint accuracy as well as a nasty changeup. Over 112 innings this year, Holton has 139 strikeouts.

PK: Florida St's fielding percentage for the year is the lowest of the Omaha Eight. How worried are you about defensive mistakes dooming this team?

CW: FSU's fielding mistakes have become a bit of a running joke of late as the Seminoles have dropped off significantly on defense over the last few years.

That being said, the fielding on this year's team had taken a major step forward down the stretch of the season, even putting together a 56-inning error-free stretch a few weeks ago.

I would be more inclined to think that a stupid baserunning error would cost this team in a crucial spot in Omaha. For whatever reason, this team of very good baseball players makes some of the most questionable baserunning decisions at times, throwing away outs, often in the middle of rallies.

PK: Bottom 9, down 1, man on, Who do you want at the plate for the Noles?

CW: Jackson Lueck. Lueck has stayed one of FSU's most consistently hot hitters throughout the 2017 season. He did this while missing more than 15 games this year while dealing with shin splints, shingles, and multiple other illnesses. He also has five walkoff hits in his first two years at FSU, including three this year.

That being said, one of the biggest strengths of this team is that there are a number of people in this lineup who I would feel good about in that situation. Right now, any of FSU's top eight hitters in the lineup would have a decent chance to deliver the game-winning hit.

PK: Gaze into your crystal ball and tell me how you see the next two weeks in Omaha going. (Homer picks are welcome and encouraged)

CW:This is a tough one.

FSU has the bad fortune of being on the more difficult side of the bracket. Even if the Seminoles were to beat LSU, there's a good chance top seed Oregon State would be waiting for them.

Don't ask me why, but my gut feeling says that against all odds FSU makes it to the championship game. Not sure what would happen at that point, but, as has been proven countless times, anything can happen in Omaha.