Noles eliminate UNC to set up a rematch against the Vols

“Survive and advance” is the motto for FSU baseball in Omaha after slipping into the loser’s bracket. That’s exactly what they did on Tuesday: they eliminated UNC to set up a rematch against the Tennessee Vols. FSU had some unsuspecting heroes step up in a big way, but none more than Andrew Armstrong.

The senior left-hander hadn’t pitched since May 25th in the ACC tournament, but there was no rust to be found. Armstrong had a big day for FSU with 4.1 innings pitched allowing just 5 hits and 3 earned runs. He did that despite battling a rib injury that head coach Link Jarrett said affected his velocity. Being able to bring him into a game of this magnitude and have that kind of performance can’t be understated for a team that has struggled with bullpen depth. The Seminole offense continued their hot streak by putting runs on the board in 3 of the first 5 innings including a 4-run burst in the 5th. The offensive pressure caused UNC to burn through 6 pitchers in this game as they tried to find someone to slow down the FSU bats.

Conner Whittaker relieved Armstrong in the 4th and just didn’t look ready. Whittaker, who has been clutch for FSU, put in his biggest workload since returning from injury during Friday’s game against Tennessee. On only his third pitch, Whittaker gave up a 3-run home run to one of UNC’s best, Vance Honeycutt. The Tar Heels would drive in another run to cut the gap to two runs at the end of the 5th.

But that would do it for the regular season ACC champs as FSU brought in Connor Hults who was lights out. Hults pitched 4.1 innings allowing just 2 hits and zero runs including a big strikeout to sit down Honeycutt in the 9th. The Noles added some insurance in the final frame with back-to-back jacks by Jaxson West and Max Williams. The Noles extended their lead to 4 and never looked back. Florida State eliminated UNC with a 9-5 victory. The Noles racked up 14 hits and committed 0 errors.

Florida State has now accounted for 27 runs on 34 hits in Omaha. They will need their offense to stay productive as this win set them up for a rematch against the Vols., I know they are taking this one game at a time, but I’d have to imagine there’s a little bit of revenge on the mind after Friday night’s thriller. Tennessee beat UNC 6-1 on Sunday and had today off. Due to inclement weather, tomorrow’s game has been moved up to 3 PM ET.

No matter what happens next, the Noles just won their 49th game to reach the final four teams in the country. There can’t be enough said about the turnaround made by this team in year two under Link Jarrett after going 23-31 a year ago. This has all been in one recruiting cycle for Jarrett, too. The progress and direction of this program are undeniable, but the mission isn’t over yet for this team.

FSU will be ready for the challenge as they face the Vols in a win-or-go-home situation with their season on the line. Being a double elimination format, FSU will have to beat Tennessee twice whereas Tennessee only needs to beat FSU once. Florida State will continue its quest for a championship tomorrow at 3 PM ET on ESPN/ESPN+. Thanks for reading and Go Noles!!

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