FSU offense stays red hot in road win at Jacksonville

Four games into the 2023 season, the Florida State baseball team has already done something it didn’t do all of last season.

It won a midweek game away from Tallahassee. And it did so in absolutely dominant fashion.

After the 2022 Seminoles went 0-5 in Tuesday/Wednesday games on the road or at neutral sites, the 2023 Seminoles (4-0) won their first midweek game of the season Tuesday night, running away with an 11-2 win over Jacksonville (1-3) at JU’s John Sessions Field.

The game was won by the Seminoles in the third and fourth innings, when they turned an early 2-0 hole into an 8-2 lead with eight hits over those two frames. The FSU pitching staff easily protected that lead, allowing just three hits against the Dolphins lineup.

The majority of the damage was done by the Seminoles on a trio of two-run hits. First baseman James Tibbs III laced a two-run double to center to tie the game at two in the third inning. Left fielder Jordan Williams got his first career hit at FSU, a two-run home run to right field to make it 5-2 later that inning.

Then, freshman third baseman Cam Smith gave FSU some insurance in the fourth inning with a two-run double to left to make it 7-2.

The Seminoles finished with 15 hits, their third game with 10-plus hits this season. And they could have had far more runs if not squandering a few additional opportunities, stranding nine runners on base.

Once again, the top-of-the-lineup freshmen paved the way for the Seminoles. Centerfielder and leadoff hitter DeAmez Ross had hits in each of his first three at-bats and reached base each of his first four times up, boosting his batting average to .444. Along with his two-run double, Smith homered for the second straight game against JU, finishing with three hits, three RBI and three runs.

Shortstop Jordan Carrion also maintained his impressive form to start the season, notching three more hits and three more RBI to bring his season totals in each to 10.

FSU bullpen picks up the slack

For the second straight game, a freshman starting pitcher struggled to give FSU many innings in his debut.

This time, it was Ben Barrett, who got the start for the Seminoles’ first midweek game after he was under the weather for the weekend series vs. JMU. The freshman breezed through a 1-2-3 first inning on just 10 pitches before running into some struggles in the second inning.

After hitting the leadoff batter of the inning and allowing the runner to move to second on a wild pitch, Barrett surrendered a two-run home run to left field to Chandler Howard, putting FSU in an early 2-0 hole. Barrett escaped that inning without any further damage, but that proved to be the end of his FSU debut.

With a lot of innings to fill out of the bullpen, FSU first turned to Wake Forest transfer Brennen Oxford. While Oxford’s first relief appearance at FSU lasted just one batter, a walk in FSU’s 12-7 win over James Madison last Friday, he got a much lengthier outing this time around.

Oxford threw three innings in relief of Barrett, allowing just one hit and one walk and striking out six JU batters. His only real threat came in the third inning, when JU put a runner on third with no outs after a leadoff throwing error by Oxford followed by a wild pitch. He got out of the jam unscathed with three straight strikeouts.

After that, David Barrett threw a scoreless sixth inning, stranding runners on the corners with a clutch strikeout. Andrew Armstrong then threw the seventh and eighth innings, allowing no runs on no hits with one walk. In 4.1 innings of relief work this season, Armstrong has not allowed a hit.

Freshman Ryan Denison threw the final inning of the victory, working around a leadoff walk to keep the Dolphins off the board.

Overall, the FSU bullpen allowed no runs on two hits over seven innings, striking out 11 and issuing four walks. The Seminoles’ 12 strikeouts as a staff vs. JU were an encouraging sign, considering FSU’s pitching staff had 22 total strikeouts in the opening series vs. JMU.