CWS Update: Noles eliminate UVA. Will face UNC on Tuesday.

Florida State baseball came out swinging in Omaha, but so did Tennessee, unless you ask the third base ump that is… As for game one, two things can be true. 1) FSU made too many mistakes that ultimately cost them a game in which they controlled from the third inning to the bottom of the ninth. 2) The blown no-swing call did cost them the game in that moment. FSU hadn’t blown the lead yet so the right call would have ended it with a win for the Noles. The belief that you don’t want to end a high-stakes game on a call like that when it’s the right call is utterly… well you know. But I digress.

Nonetheless, things happen, and you have to move on. The big takeaway for me was that, even though they made a flurry of mistakes, FSU still outplayed the #1 team in the country for most of the game. They put up 11 runs on 13 hits and had a 4-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth. However, as we’ve seen on multiple occasions this season, the bullpen couldn’t preserve the lead and the win slipped away. Unfortunately, this moved FSU into the loser’s bracket where the path to a championship will be a little harder to navigate.

Game 2 vs. UVA

Up next, the Seminoles had to face the Virginia Cavaliers, who lost to UNC in their opening game, also in walk-off fashion. Florida State had already beaten UVA in the ACC tournament, but how would they rebound after such a devastating loss? Well, about as good as you could have asked them to. The Seminoles looked crisper this time with zero errors and held the Cavaliers’ Top 5 scoring offense to just 3 runs. Carson Dorsey came up big again for the Seminoles with another 100+ pitch performance. Dorsey gave FSU 7 innings while allowing 9 hits, 3 earned runs, and 7 strikeouts. (Dorsey exited with 2 runs on the board when Brennan Oxford came in to relieve him.)

Dorsey has been excellent this postseason for FSU. You can see his numbers throughout the Regional, Supers, and CWS, so far, in the graphic below.

Carson Dorsey postseason stats graphic

Despite Dorsey’s day on the mound, the story that stole the show was Jaime Ferrer’s day at the plate. The Seminoles’ junior outfielder hit not one, but two home runs that drove in four runs. Ferrer has now hit three homers and drove in 8 RBI in Omaha! Alex Lodise also hit a solo home run. Marco Dinges and James Tibbs drove in an RBI each as the Noles eliminated the Cavs with a 7-3 victory.

Game 3 vs. UNC. Tuesday 6.18 at 2 PM ET

Florida State will play another elimination game on Tuesday against UNC, who lost to Tennessee by a score of 6-1 on Sunday evening. Although FSU should be in the winner’s bracket, in my opinion, this sets up as well as you could hope for FSU from a matchup perspective.

Throughout the postseason (Regionals, Supers and Omaha) UT has averaged 10.3 runs per game and scored double-digit runs in 5 of 8 games. UNC has averaged 4.9 runs per game and scored double-digit runs in 1 of 8 games (11 runs in their first Regional game against Long Island, none since). With FSU not yet sure who will pitch on Tuesday, we know it’s unlikely to be Jamie Arnold and won’t be Carson Dorsey.

That leaves the two likely choices as Conner Whittaker on short rest after throwing his highest pitch count since returning from injury in Friday’s game against Tennessee (71) or Andrew Armstrong who hasn’t pitched since May 25th against Wake Forest in the ACC tournament. Whittaker would be the preferred choice, but his availability might be a stretch. At the same time, that might be why Link pulled him earlier than most of us expected against Tennessee. He could also serve in a relief role as he did against UT and UConn in the Supers. Whoever gets the start should have the full bullpen available behind them as FSU has largely stayed out of it through the first two games.

The point is, I’d rather face an offense that has scored 4 runs in Omaha than one that’s scored 18 when I don’t have my best pitchers available. If the Noles get past UNC, that would mean beating Tennessee twice, but you’d also have Arnold and Dorsey to do it with. Florida State’s offense can pressure any team and has been as good as any in Omaha. They’ll need to keep that momentum at the plate to knock off a team like UNC who won the ACC regular season championship.

While it hasn’t been announced yet, if I had to guess who FSU will face on Tuesday for UNC, there are two main options. They will either stick to their regular rotation and we’ll see their normal game 3 starter, Aidan Haugh or they will push to get game 1 starter Jason DeCaro back on short rest after throwing 89 pitches on Friday against UVA. That would also mean he would be unavailable for a rematch against Tennessee if they advance past FSU. Haugh seems like the likely choice here.

Their numbers are as follows.

Haugh (Jr. RHP): (4-2) 4.53 ERA – 51.2 IP – 58K/24BB – Opp Avg: .267

DeCaro (Fr. RHP): (6-1) 3.81 ERA – 89.2 IP – 78K/44BB – Opp Avg: .221

UNC is a good team that we certainly can’t look past. They have one of the better defenses in the tournament, a deep bullpen, and their offense averaged over 8 runs per game before the postseason. With each team’s season on the line, this will be a high-stakes winner-take-all battle between two of the best teams in the ACC.

After a tough loss in game one, FSU appeared to come out with a renewed sense of focus. They just have to take it one game at a time. One thing is for sure, they will have Seminole faithful led by the Animals of Section B behind them. If you had closed your eyes during Sunday’s game against UVA, you would have sworn it was a home game in Howser! We tip our cap to those who made the trip to Omaha and look forward to watching the Noles continue their run to a championship. FSU vs. UNC will take place on Tuesday, June 18th at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+. Thanks for reading and Go Noles!

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