Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FSU Begins a Tough Road Today; Sixth-Seeded Seminoles, Who Are 8-11 against League Foes since April 1, Open ACC Tournament

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FSU Begins a Tough Road Today; Sixth-Seeded Seminoles, Who Are 8-11 against League Foes since April 1, Open ACC Tournament

Article excerpt

Byline: BOB THOMAS

Can a two-out, ninth-inning implosion against one of the nation's top teams -- denying a series win -- send a club spiraling into an abyss? Can a series win on the final regular-season weekend turn its fortunes?

If Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin had the answers to those two questions, the Seminoles:

--****Might not have endured their worst Atlantic Coast Conference season in 15 seasons, and;

--****Feel a lot more confident heading into today's 10 a.m. ACC Tournament opener against third-seeded Virginia at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

The sixth-seeded Seminoles (39-17, 16-13 ACC) haven't been the same team since blowing a 3-2 lead with two ninth-inning errors in a 4-3 loss at North Carolina on April 1, going 13-14 down the stretch, including 8-11 against league opponents.

"It's hard to look back on the past and say, 'I wish' or 'What if?' " FSU junior third baseman Ryne Malone said. "I guess if you think about it now, it sure seems that way. We could have avoided a lot of losses if one bounce would have gone our way, or if we would have done the right thing on a certain play. But this whole season, we haven't done anything but live in the present. I think that's kept us going through this tough time."

Martin and the Seminoles won't have to wait to find out whether two series-opening wins over N.C. State can reverse a season gone awry. FSU will receive its first look at Virginia sophomore left-hander Sean Doolittle -- the ACC Player of the Year -- this morning. It's the first time the schools have met since the 2004 season.

Seminoles junior right-hander Bryan Henry, who will make his first start against the Cavaliers (45-11, 21-9), and Malone said FSU is confident that things can turn quickly in its favor as the postseason unfolds. And the Seminoles certainly need a strong tournament showing here to have any hope of hosting an NCAA Regional tournament next week in Tallahassee.

"The course of the season has definitely made us stronger," Henry said. "We've seen everything that can go wrong, and everything that can go right. Nothing will be a surprise in the postseason. …

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