Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Noles Hot Down Stretch; FSU Hopes to Use Its 10-3 Finish as a Springboard to Success in the Conference Tournament and Beyond

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Noles Hot Down Stretch; FSU Hopes to Use Its 10-3 Finish as a Springboard to Success in the Conference Tournament and Beyond

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Thomas, The Times-Union

Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin had no idea where his team was headed when Georgia Tech completed a three-game sweep of the Seminoles on April 25 at Dick Howser Stadium.

The three-time defending regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference champions were sixth in the standings and preparing to play 10 of their final 13 games on the road, including three games each with front-runners Virginia and Clemson.

"I truly felt if we didn't turn it on, we were running a strong risk of not going to postseason play," said Martin, who has guided the 'Noles to 24 consecutive postseason appearances. "I wasn't exactly sleeping well."

Martin might not have slept much better Tuesday night with the Seminoles preparing to open ACC Tournament play against N.C. State and ace right-hander Mike Rogers at 8:30 p.m. today at Salem (Va.) Memorial Stadium.

At least he doesn't have to worry about his team not making the postseason. The third-seeded Seminoles (37-19) used a 10-3 finish to assure themselves a postseason berth, riding the red-hot bats of Eddy Martinez-Esteve, Stephen Drew and Aaron Cheesman.

The trio has the 'Noles back in the running to host a regional tournament, an opportunity that could be enhanced with a solid showing in the double-elimination conference tournament.

"We know if we want to host [regionals] and play in front of our crowd . . . we've got to win a couple of games in the tournament," Martinez-Esteve said. "We know we can do it, but we've got to put ourselves in a good position to do it."

So far, so good. The trio combined to hit .479 with 32 RBI as the 'Noles closed the regular season with six consecutive league wins. That run prevented FSU from finishing below third for the first time in 13 ACC seasons.

More importantly, Martin's young supporting cast has taken its cue from the veterans. …

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