Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FSU's 'Hog' Takes Bite out of Opponents' Bats Hodges Provides Lift from Bullpen

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FSU's 'Hog' Takes Bite out of Opponents' Bats Hodges Provides Lift from Bullpen

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Thomas, Times-Union sports writer

TALLAHASSEE -- Daniel Hodges earned the nickname "Hog" for his voracious appetite, but it's the junior lefthander's ability to eat up innings and the opposition that has Florida State excited as it builds momentum for the stretch run.

Following their first three-game sweep at Miami with last weekend's sweep of then fifth-ranked Georgia Tech, the Seminoles (38-12, 6-6 ACC) are 10-2 during the last 20 days and back to No. 5 in this week's Baseball Weekly/ESPN coaches poll. FSU would be working on a 10-game winning streak if not for last Tuesday's 6-5, 10-inning loss to South Alabama. The Seminoles attempt to extend their four-game winning streak this weekend with a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference home series against N.C. State.

Hodges has locked down four saves during his last six appearances, including two each against the Hurricanes and the Yellow Jackets. By coming up big for a bullpen that has labored throughout much of the season, the former Bishop Kenny star has taken over the closer's role for the Seminoles, though hardly in traditional style.

With a fastball that barely cracks 80 mph, Hodges relies on pinpoint accuracy and a screwball to keep opponents off stride. The combination has left opposing batters flailing at pitches out of the strike zone and left mesmerized by a dancing, two-seam fastball.

"He gets people out and that's the bottom line," FSU senior captain and slugger Ryan Barthelemy said. "There absolutely isn't anything a hitter can do to stay back long enough on him. He throws that slow."

A workhorse since he began playing varsity baseball at Hilliard in eighth and ninth grade, Hodges is no one-inning wonder. Over his last six appearances he has logged 162/3 innings of work, scattered 19 hits, struck out 10 and walked one. More importantly, he has allowed three earned runs as the Seminoles have gone 5-1 in those games.

"I've got the most experience of anybody in this bullpen, even though I'm not a senior," Hodges said. "I had to take it upon myself to be a leader out there. Without a bullpen, you're not going to win anything. …

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