The No. 4 Florida State Seminoles (41-14, 21-9) fell to the Duke Blue Devils (32-23, 23) 7-5 Saturday afternoon in the regular season finale. Peter Miller started on the mound for FSU, but he lasted only an inning-plus as he allowed two runs on two hits and three walks.
The Blue Devils took advantage of Florida State’s poor pitching early in the game scoring six runs in the first four innings on five hits, six walks, and two hit-by-pitches against three FSU pitchers. Taylor Blatch kept the Duke off the board in the fifth and Alec Byrd settle down after a rough start to give the Seminoles four strong innings of relief.
Justin Gonzalez went 0-5 in the first two games of the series, but the fifth year senior broke out of his slump Saturday afternoon on senior day going 1-2 with three RBI in the series finale. His lone hit was a homerun to left field, his second of the season. Gonzalez had a chance to tie the game in the ninth with two on and one out when he drove the ball to deep left field, but the wind kept it in play robbing Gonzalez of his second homerun of the game.
Gonzalez rounding into form late in the season will be a huge boost for the Seminoles as they enter postseason play. FSU will play the winner of UNC/NC State in the first round of the ACC tournament on Wednesday and if Gonzalez can continue to find his power from the eight hole in the lineup FSU becomes considerably more dangerous as a team.
Weaver and Compton lead FSU
The top two spot in FSU’s rotation are locked down as Luke Weaver, who won on Thursday, and Mike Compton, who won on Friday, continue to provide the Seminoles with quality starts. Weaver pitched seven shutout innings on Thursday and has not allowed a run in his last 17 innings on the mound. When he is paired with Compton FSU has a strong one-two punch at the top of the rotation. The question mark has been who is going to fill the third spot. Brandon Leibrandt has missed the second half of the season and he continues to be out with a bone contusion in his knee. Bryant Holtmann replaced Leibrandt in the rotation, but Holtmann has missed the last three series with a forearm strain suffered against Virginia.
During that time FSU has used three different starters in series finales. Dylan Silva, Taylor Blatch, and Peter Miller have combined to allow six runs (five earned) on eight hits and seven walks in only four and two third innings. The last time an FSU starter other than Weaver of Compton recorded a victory was April 22nd against Stetson when Billy Strode was the winning pitcher, a span of six games started by five different pitchers.
Third baseman Jose Brizuela was FSU’s top offensive player throughout the weekend. He went 6-12 in the series with two RBI and three runs scored. Brizuela also stole three bases in Friday’s game two. After hitting .500 for the weekend he is second on the team with a .325 batting average. Brizuela has also improved in the field recently going seven straight games without committing an error.
By: Brandon O’Connor