Jacksonville Sports Day

PREVIEW: FSU Closes Out Regular Season by Hosting Miami

By Tim Linafelt
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Mike Martin was in the mood for a history lesson on Wednesday afternoon.
With the No. 3 Miami Hurricanes set to visit Tallahassee for a three-game series beginning on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Martin recalled his first meeting with UM, more than 35 years ago.

On February 22, 1980, Martin visited Miami for his very first game as Florida State’s head coach.
And it did not go well.

“One guy got to third base,” Martin said. “So I got to talk to one guy that night when I coached third. We lost 10-0.”
Things didn’t improve much the next day.

“It was a lot of fun, because the next day we kicked it around in the ninth inning and lost,” Martin said. Final score: Miami 4, Florida State 3.

The Seminoles salvaged a win – the first of Martin’s lengthy and legendary career – in the final game of the series, but, even now, Martin looks back at it with a self-deprecating sense of humor.

Then I showed my managerial ability the last day,” he said with a laugh. “Took everybody out of the ballgame when we fell six runs behind and we turned around and tied it up. And I looked out there and I saw freshmen and players that were not close to the starting lineup. And Mike Yastrzemski hit a three-run home run in the ninth and we won.

Know who my assistant coach was? Jim Morris.”

The Florida State-Miami rivalry is nothing if not memorable.

Martin and Morris, an FSU assistant in 1980 and 81 and Miami’s head coach since 1994, will renew their rivalry this weekend, and Martin hopes this year’s iteration goes a little better for his team than it did back then.

Although they scraped out a 4-3 win over Duke in their last game, the Seminoles are still looking to create some positive energy after their toughest week of the season.

Before beating Duke on Sunday, the Seminoles slogged through their first four-game losing streak in nearly a year.

The last one, in 2015, came against the likes of Louisville and Clemson, two of college baseball’s heavyweights.

This year’s skid, however, was at the hands of two Atlantic Sun Conference opponents (Jacksonville and Florida Gulf Coast) and a Duke team that sits near the bottom of the ACC standings.
So, if ever there was a great time to face the No. 3 team in the country, this seemingly would not be it.

Then again, Martin has coached through 35 years’ worth of these games, and several more as an FSU player and assistant coach.

He’s seen enough to know there’s no reason to wave the white flag. FSU owns a 147-164-4 all-time record against the Hurricanes and has won four of the last five meetings.

“It’s a fun series,” he said. “It’s one that there have been some things that have happened that you wouldn’t believe. But it’s fun.”

That doesn’t mean Martin wouldn’t like to see his club play better than it has recently. In fact, that’s all he really wants.

The Seminoles of late have been undone by a series of miscues – both in the field and on the base paths – and are still searching for a string of quality starts from their pitchers. If they can show signs of progress in any of those areas, Martin says he’ll be pleased regardless of how the actual games shake out.

“I really look at this series as one (where) we just want to play well,” Martin said “We just want to go out and, if we get beat, “(we know) the other team beat us. We didn’t give extra outs. We made quality pitches when we needed to make them. We competed hard.

“That’s where we are at this point in the season, because that’s where you want to be when you get to the ACC and the regional tournament.”
Postseason play begins next week with the ACC tournament in Durham, N.C.

Compton a ‘question mark,’ rotation unchanged

Right-handed pitcher Mike Compton will miss his second straight start, but Martin said that the fifth-year senior could potentially pitch in a relief role this weekend against Miami. Compton (5-3, 4.17 ERA) is dealing with tendonitis but has thrown in practice this week and is reportedly feeling better.

“He said he threw better than he did the other day, pain free. But it’s still a question mark,” Martin said. “If he went, it would probably be in relief this weekend. Then we would make a decision for the ACC tournament.”

In Compton’s absence, the Seminoles will go with the same rotation they used at Duke. Sophomore Drew Carlton (6-3, 4.24 ERA) will start Thursday’s game, followed by freshman Cole Sands (4-5, 4.08) on Friday and Ed Voyles (1-1, 2.81) on Friday and Saturday.

(Tim Linafelt is a writer with Seminoles.com)

 

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