FSU baseball player swinging the bat during a game

FSU Baseball vs Florida Game Preview

Florida State baseball is off to a hot start in year two under Link Jarrett. On Tuesday, the Noles will take their undefeated record into hog town for what might be the most important game of the season.

Why is this game so important? Well, first off, it’s the Gators. Secondly, FSU is 14-0 and somehow not in the D1 Baseball Top 25. A lot of that is attributed to the level of competition FSU has faced so far. Let’s face it, they have beaten up a lot of average to below-average teams. Still, it’s impressive being only one of two undefeated teams left in college baseball. (FSU & Texas A&M)

Florida on the other hand is ranked in the top 10 despite already losing 5 games this season. It also just so happens that Florida plays both of those teams this week.

This game is huge because it will be the Noles first real test against a ranked team. Is the undefeated record just smoke and mirrors? Or are the Noles really contenders looking to make some noise in 2024? Tuesday’s game against Florida will go a long way in letting us know where this team stands.

To be fair, Florida is a good team, so a loss doesn’t mean FSU is doomed by any means. However, if FSU does get a win over a top 10 team: they will almost certainly catapult themselves into the top 25, keep the momentum going, and prove they are ready for the challenge that lies ahead with conference play starting this weekend.

Florida By the numbers

Team preview

The Gators came into the season ranked in the top 5 but have slid a few spots after some questionable losses. They opened the season with a loss against St. Johns (8-4), dropped a midweek game vs Stetson (12-5), and most recently lost to Saint Mary’s (9-6). Florida also lost to UCF and Miami but did end up getting the series win against the Canes.

Florida’s offense has been hit or miss this season. They have put up 10+ runs in six games, but have also been held to 7 or less in seven, five of which resulted in a loss. Meanwhile, FSU has scored 7 or more runs in every game this season, so it appears this might be a race to 7 runs. UF has a team batting average of .304 (56th), an on-base percentage of .417 (58th), and a slugging percentage of .554 (29th).

The Gators have 6 players batting over .300 led by junior first baseman/pitcher Jac Caglianone, who is hitting .429 on the season. There is power in the UF’s lineup with 32 home runs, which ranks in the top 10 in the country.

However, the Gators have had their share of struggles at the plate with eight players accounting for double-digit strikeouts this season, compared to FSU with three. Florida has been held to single-digit hits in six games this season whereas FSU has reached double-digit hits in all fourteen games. The Gators have also struggled on the base path with only 11 stolen bases on 14 attempts (207th).

I’m not saying that FSU’s starting pitcher Andrew Armstrong (2-0) is out for a walk in the park, but this offense has proven to be beatable. Armstrong has performed well so far this season in limited action. He’s pitched 4.2 innings with a perfect 0.00 ERA allowing 4 hits, 0 runs, and accounted for 7 strikeouts.

The Gator defense has been solid this year. They rank top 10 in Fielding percentage (.985) and have only committed 8 errors all season. Freshman pitcher Alex Philpott (2-0) will get the start vs FSU on Tuesday. Philpott has pitched 14 innings and has an ERA of 2.57. He’s allowed 9 hits with 7 walks and 15 strikeouts. Florida’s pitching staff has a combined 5.43 ERA (116th).

Final Thoughts

The Seminoles are not only looking to stay undefeated but also end a 4-game skid against their in-state rivals. FSU has only won two games in Gainesville since 2016. The Noles will need their red-hot offense to stay just that if they want to win. FSU has also been aggressive on the base path this season with 24 stolen bases on 25 attempts. They’ll need to take some chances in this one as well. Florida’s defense doesn’t give you much, so it’s crucial to capitalize when you get runners on base.

With Conner Whittaker, who had been starting midweek games for FSU, appearing to be back in his Sunday starter spot heading into ACC play, it’s up to Senior Andrew Armstrong to step up. The Noles have been exceptional on the mound this season. They rank top 10 in team ERA and top 5 in strikeouts per 9 innings.

Florida State has undoubtedly looked better this season, but the real test comes now. If the Noles want to prove they are a true contender, here’s their chance. Florida has proven to be beatable this season, and by teams who aren’t as good as FSU. However, they didn’t luck into a top 10 ranking and get to play at home where FSU has struggled.

History says this will be an uphill battle, but I believe this Seminoles baseball team has what it takes to get the job done. Florida State vs Florida will take place at 6 PM ET in Gainesville and air on the SEC network. Thanks for reading and Go Noles!!

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