All posts by Alex Krutchik

Seminoles Overcome Tough Start to Defeat Xavier

Florida State recovered from a slow start to notch a victory over Xavier Saturday afternoon, 7-2.

Cole Sands took the mound for the Seminoles (2-0) for his first start of the season. In 2017, he went 6-4 while throwing a 5.40 ERA in 83.1 innings. Today, he found himself in trouble from the very first batter when Xavier shortstop Ryan Attenberger doubled to right field. After Sands allowed a single on the next at-bat, right fielder Joe Gellenbeck hit a single to right field to give the Musketeers (0-2) their first runs of the game. Three batters in, manager Mike Martin and pitching coach Mike Bell went out to the mound for a quick meeting with Sands. The following at-bat, Sands allowed a sacrifice fly out to center field, bringing home Conor Grammes. Still with one out, two runs allowed already, and a runner still on base, Sands retired the next two batters on strikeouts.

“It was just kind of nerves,” said Sands. “I was a little on top of the zone. I had to get the ball back down, and get the ball back to the corner of the plate.”

Sands (5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB) would go on to retire 15 of the next 16 batters that he faced, picking up a career-high 9 strikeouts.

“What I wanted him to know was he was literally in a position to get out of the innings if he could get a popup or a strikeout,” Martin said of Sands’ first inning. “I think that is when Cole really showed his true colors. He bared down, and got us in the dugout.”

After being in a two-run hole early, the Seminoles answered quickly when freshman shortstop Mike Salvatore reached on a walk to lead off the inning, and scored on a Rhett Aplin double.

Two innings later, Salvatore scored again, this time off a Cal Raleigh sac fly. Salvatore would score three runs despite only having two official plate appearances.

The score sat at 2-2 going into the bottom of the 4th. Salvatore drove home J.C. Flowers (2-for-3, 2 R) on a sac fly to left field to break the tie. The Seminoles would keep this lead for the remainder of the game.

The Seminoles got some insurance in the 5th inning. With 2 outs already in the inning, Cal Raleigh laid down a bunt that hugged the third base line to beat the extreme defensive shit Xavier set against him. Following a Nick Derr walk, Flowers smacked a ball up the middle that careened off of pitcher Matt Kent’s leg. Shortstop Ryan Attenberger was able to field it, but not in time to catch Flowers at first. With the bases loaded, senior Rafael Bournigal doubled to right center field to clear the bases, giving FSU a 6-3 lead.

In the top of the 6th, Tallahassee native Austin Pollock came in relief of Sands to make his college debut. Pollock (4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K) cruised through his first two innings, but came close to surrenduring his first run of the game in the 8th inning when Conor Grammes hit a double to center field. With Ryan Attenberger racing home, J.C. Flowers relayed the ball to Salvatore, who was able to throw out Attenberger at the plate.

The Seminoles shut out the Musketeers in the last 8 innings.

With starting pitcher Tyler Holton out, Martin said he and his staff would consider giving Pollock a look at being in the top four of the pitching rotation.

The Seminoles close out their opening series on Sunday against Xavier at 1:00 p.m.

Seminoles Get Off to Early Lead, Win First Game of Season

Alex Krutchik, Correspondent (@AlexKrutchikFS on Twitter)

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – The Florida State Seminoles baseball team started the season on the right foot with a 9-1 victory over the Xavier Musketeers, behind a great pitching performance from Tyler Holton, and a quick start on offense.

Manager Mike Martin, whose team started in a 0-1 hole to start the season last year, was happy with the early production from both sides of the ball tonight.

Tonight’s ballgame was a good start, a little bit better than last year…It wasn’t a great beginning last year,” Martin said. Martin is entering his 39th year as the skipper for FSU. “ I was very proud of the way the young men approached the game. Had some key hits, but let’s face it, we had some outstanding pitching.”

Holton, who leads all returning players nationally with 144 strikeouts last season, was dominant throughout the game. After allowing the first batter of the game to reach on an error at third base, Holton proceeded to retire the next 12 batters he faced. In the fifth inning, Xavier second baseman Sam Flamini doubled off Holton to give the Musketeers their first hit of the game. Holton struck out the next two batters but then walked catcher Nate Soria. That’s when Mike Martin and a team trainer came out to look at him and pulled him from the game.

Alex Krutchik | Franchise Sports Tallahassee
FSU got an early season victory behind dominant pitching

Martin said it was tenderness in his throwing arm, and it’s a problem he had back in high school as well.

“He acted like that’s exactly the way it felt (when it happened in high school). So, therefore, he’s gonna have to take some time off,” Martin said. “Once we get the diagnosis, we’ll know what to do.”

Holton finished with 4.2 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts.

The Seminole offense was off to a hot start, scoring two runs in each of the first two innings. Much like last year, the Noles found ways to get on base without getting many hits. They were walked a total of 10 times. Of the 28 baserunners FSU had, 13 of them reached via walks or hit-by-pitch.

Junior college transfer Mike Salvatore reached base first for the Seminoles after getting walked. Junior left fielder Jackson Lueck was walked immediately after. Rhett Aplin got the Noles’ first hit of the season on a single to center, but the Seminoles would have to wait for their first run of the year, as Salvatore was thrown out at the plate. Xavier pitcher Trevor Olson hit Drew Mendoza to load the bases and walked Cal Raleigh to bring Jackson Lueck home for the first run of the season.

The Seminoles continued their offensive output in the third when designated hitter Nick Derr hit a solo home run for FSU’s first of the year. He went 2-for-3 with two runs.

Another offensive explosion came in the sixth inning. With two outs, Mendoza reached on a single, followed by walks for Raleigh and Derr. With the bases loaded, J.C. Flowers hit a line drive off shortstop Chris Givin’s glove, driving home Mendoza and Raleigh. Then, freshman Reese Albert came in as a pinch-hitter, and delivered a single to center, driving home two more runs. Four new Seminoles got hits in their debuts. Aside from Albert, Rafael Bournigal, Cooper Swanson, and Jared Herron all collected hits today.

It’s great for our little camaraderie for our ballclub. A couple of guys got their first taste of D1 baseball, and started off their career with a base hit,” Martin said. “That part of it is always fun for the coaches.”

Junior pitcher Cobi Johnson entered the game for the Seminoles in the eighth and retired six of the seven batters that he faced. Of those six batters, he struck out four. This was the first time Johnson has pitched since injuring his arm in April 2016. Johnson was happy with his season debut.

“I’m just so happy to be able to compete again and be pain-free up there on the mound. I’m just so happy I could cry,” Johnson said.

The Seminoles take on the Musketeers again Saturday at 1 p.m. Cole Sands will take the mound for FSU.

Willie Taggart Introduced as New FSU Head Coach

Alex Krutchik, Correspondent (@AlexKrutchikFS on Twitter)

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) –New Florida State head coach Willie Taggart is coming home. In an emotional introductory press conference Wednesday afternoon, Taggart described the FSU head coaching position as his “dream job”.

Taggart’s arrival brings an end to what’s been a roller coaster of a week for FSU and its administration. The school parted ways with eight-year head coach Jimbo Fisher after he signed a 10-year, $75 million contact with Texas A&M.  Around 10:45 A.M., he exited his SUV outside of Doak Campbell Stadium and immediately embraced university President John Thrasher. He walked through a tunnel of cheerleaders and FSU band members, emphatically doing the Tomahawk Chop as the iconic Seminole Warchant blared all around him.

“I can finally say ‘I’m in,’” said the new coach, with eyes watering from emotion. “I wanted to come here and play. I guess I wasn’t good enough to get a scholarship to play here…No matter where I went, the Seminoles were always a part of me.”

The 41-year-old has been a Seminole his entire life, along with the rest of his family.

“If you weren’t a ‘Noles fan, you probably weren’t staying in that house,” said Taggart, about his family’s die-hard commitment to the ‘Noles.

Taggart coached at the University of South Florida from 2013-2016, and even then, his family had to root for FSU. Taggart described a time when his brother told him that he was still going to cheer on the Seminoles, even when Taggart coached a game against FSU.

Taggart was offered the FSU job after his one-year stint with the University of Oregon. He thanked Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullins, and said that the decision to leave was hard. However, he said, the situation was too good to pass up.

“I wasn’t going to leave it just for anything because it was perfect and my family loved it there and had everything going the right way”, said Taggart. “But to be closer to your family and still have an opportunity to coach in the Power Five and still have an opportunity to win a National Championship, which is a personal goal, it was tough to overcome.”

He said that his decision came after a profound moment he had with his 16-year-old son. While sitting at home and discussing the decision with his wife, his son walked in and offered some advice to the coach and father of three.

“He said ‘Dad, You always tell me to chase my dreams and don’t let anyone get in the way of it,” Taggart said. “I don’t think it’s right for me or anyone else to stop you from chasing your dreams… I don’t want to leave, Dad, but if you’re going to chase your dream, then I’m going to ride with you.”

Coach Taggart had just lost his father this past summer, and he said that listening to his son talk to him was like “my father talking to me.”

Taggart won’t coach the ‘Noles in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 27. His first official game with FSU will be Sep. 3, 2018 against Virginia Tech at home.

Taggart comes here with a history of turning programs around. Seminole fans might remember him mostly for his stint with the University of South Florida. In 2013, he took a team that went 3-9 the previous year and went 2-10 in his first season. From there, the team improved on their wins with each season, going 4-8, 8-5, and 11-2 respectively from 2014-2016. In his final two seasons, he brought them to a bowl, although he had already resigned before the 2016 bowl game in which they beat South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl.

Source: SB Nation
Taggart has a career record of 47-50

 

At Western Kentucky, he took  over a team that was winless in the season before he got there, and improved the team to 2-10, 7-5, and 7-6 in his three years there. They were bowl eligible in his final two years, and got invited to the Little Caesar’s Bowl in his final season.

Oregon was 7-5 in his one season with them.

The Bradenton, Fla. native will likely offer a solid recruiting pipeline in the central Florida area. The 2018 recruiting class for FSU is already hurting. Between the time that former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin was fired from A&M and the time Taggart was hired, FSU had lost seven recruits, and slid from having the No. 11 recruiting class to No. 40, according to Rivals.com.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love you all too and love being here, but there’s a lot of work to be done, and we’ve got to make sure we do that,” Taggart said in regards to recruiting.

He attended the FSU men’s basketball game last night to address the crowd, saying he wants to “lead FSU back to its winning ways.”

After the game, he went to four-star linebacker recruit Amari Gainer’s home to speak with him. Gainer reiterated his committment to FSU posting a picture with coach on Twitter with the caption “1000% #Tribe18.”

Taggart is also the first full-time black head coach for FSU. FSU is the only Power Five school to have a black Athletic Director, football coach, and basketball coach. When addressed about it, he gave credit where it was due.

“I [wasn’t] necessarily the full-time coach, because Odell [Haggins] is the first African American coach here,” Taggart said.

He was referring to FSU defensive line coach Odell Haggins, who took over the head coaching job in an interim role for the last regular season game. Haggins was the first ever black head football coach in FSU history in either an interim or full-time role. Haggins will also be acting head coach for the Seminoles when they play Southern Mississippi in the Independence Bowl.

 

It’s Taggart Time For Florida State

Alex Krutchik, Correspondent (@AlexKrutchikFS on Twitter)

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Florida State football’s first head coaching search in 41 years has come to an end, with the hiring of Willie Taggart.

Taggart, 41, was previously the head coach at the University of Oregon, where he was 7-5 in his only season.

Although he has an overall head coaching record of 47-50, he has shown he can quickly turn programs around.

Seminole fans might remember him mostly for his stint with the University of South Florida. In 2013, he took a team that went 3-9 the previous year and went 2-10 in his first season. From there, the team improved on their wins with each season, going 4-8, 8-5, and 11-2 respectively from 2014-2016. In his final two seasons, he brought them to a bowl, although he had already resigned before the 2016 bowl game in which they beat South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl.

At Western Kentucky, he took  over a team that was winless in the season before he got there, and improved the team to 2-10, 7-5, and 7-6 in his three years there. They were bowl eligible in his final two years, and got invited to the Little Caesar’s Bowl in his final season.

The Bradenton, Fla. native will likely offer a solid recruiting pipeline in the central Florida area. The 2018 recruiting class for FSU is already hurting. Between the time that former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin was fired from A&M–and the rumors of Jimbo Fisher’s departure started getting more credible– and the time Taggart was hired, FSU had lost seven recruits, and slid from having the No. 11 recruiting class to No. 40, according to Rivals.com.

However, some of the recruits that did stick around are excited for Taggart’s arrival.

“I’m really excited. I’ve heard great things about him and I can’t wait to play under him. We’re gonna bring in a really great class,” said four-star linebacker Amari Gainer in a statement to Nole Gameday.

Uncomfirmed reports also say that Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt will be coming to FSU to take the same role. Oregon gave up 360 yards per game in 2017, which was No. 40 in the nation. Previously, Leavitt was the coach at USF from its inception in 1997 until 2009. He went 95-67, and brought USF to five straight bowl games in his final five seasons, going 3-2 in those games.

Because former head coach Jimbo Fisher was appointed “head coach in waiting” while Bobby Bowden was still a head coach at FSU, this is the first actual head coaching search for the Seminoles since 1976. Taggart was born in late August of 1976, which means he wasn’t even alive when FSU last negotiated a contract with a brand new head coach.

Taggart will become FSU’s first full-time black head coach.

An introductory press conference will be held at 11 A.M. on Wednesday.

Jimbo Fisher Officially Resigns

Alex Krutchik, Correspondent (@AlexKrutchikFS on Twitter)

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) –Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher has officially resigned, and will most likely be announced as the new head coach of Texas A&M in the next few days.

The announcement comes a day before FSU is set to play Louisiana-Monroe, in a game that was rescheduled from Sept. 9 due to Hurricane Irma. The Seminoles rescheduled the game after their 35-year bowl streak was in jeopardy halfway through the season.

The Seminoles are coming off a 38-22 win against the Florida Gators, and sit at 5-6, needing one more win to keep the bowl streak alive. With the victory, they extend their win streak in the rivalry to five games. Earlier this season, FSU lost to the Miami Hurricanes for the first time since 2009, snapping a series-long seven-game win streak. Until then, the Seminoles had never lost to the Hurricanes under Fisher.

Assistant defensive line coach Odell Haggins will serve as the interim head coach this weekend. It isn’t sure if he will coach the bowl game should FSU qualify.

Fisher, 52, was in his 8th season with FSU. Since taking the reigns from longtime Seminole head coach Bobby Bowden in 2010, Fisher had compiled an 83-23 record, including three ACC titles and a national championship in 2013.

There had been rumors in the past about Fisher leaving, most notably in 2015, when Louisiana State made inquiries with several coaches, including Fisher. LSU pulled back from the talks when money and public outpouring of support for then-coach Les Miles became a factor. There were less credible rumors again last year about Fisher going to LSU after they fired Miles.

The rumors this year started heating up last weekend after Kevin Sumlin was fired by A&M after seven seasons. Since then, Fisher had been sitting on his decision, keeping his thought to himself and away from the media. In the period between the Sumlin firing and now, FSU has lost three commits from this year’s recruiting class. The Seminoles went from being having the No. 10 recruiting class on Rivals.com to being No. 18

The Seminoles haven’t announced who their lead candidates are, but rumors have them targeting Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente, and Oregon head coach and Bradenton, Fla. native Willie Taggart.

 

TCC Men No. 3 In Latest Poll

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net)-

The Tallahassee Community College Eagles men’s basketball team entered this week at No. 3 in the second NJCAA Region 8 Coaches’ Poll of the regular season. The Eagles (3-0) had one game scheduled against South Georgia Technical College during this voting period, which included games between Nov. 6-12, but that game was postponed due to excessive condensation on the court.

The Eagles dropped one spot from last week after beating both Mineral Area College (Mo.) and Three Rivers Community College (Mo.) by 15 points during the first voting period. Chipola College switched spots with Tallahassee after going 3-0 last week, winning by an average margin of 26 points. The Eagles already notched a 72-63 victory against Albany Technical College this past Monday, and return to Tallahassee for their home opener tonight against No. 7 St. Petersburg.