TJ Knapp, Correspondent
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – The forecast wasn’t the only ugly sight at Dick Howser Stadium on Tuesday as Florida State fell apart in the ninth inning in a painful 4-2 loss to South Florida.
Heading into the ninth inning with a 2-0 lead, FSU (2-2) was looking at it’s first save opportunity of the season. Three walks, two hit batters, and four runs later, the Seminoles found themselves on the losing end of this in-state matchup for the first time since 1989.
USF (3-1) enjoyed a solid day from six different pitchers, including starter and former Florida State player Ryan Valdes. While there was actually a decent amount of hard hit balls, the group managed to hold the Noles to only one hit, an RBI double by Rhett Aplin in the first inning. Meanwhile it took six pitchers to get FSU through the top of the ninth inning alone.
“We gave them their runs, we gift wrapped it and looked them in the eye and presented it to them, ”said coach Mike Martin after the game. It was clear 11 was disappointed with the loss, but not discouraged with his club. “I’ve got 600 and something losses, this ain’t nothing new, we have to look at this as a learning experience.”
It wasn’t all bad news for the Seminoles as this game actually gave us some really, really good news; Andrew Karp is legit. The redshirt sophomore allowed no runs on three hits while setting career highs in innings pitched (7.0) and strikeouts (9), which is actually two more strikeouts than he had all of last season. This success is especially encouraging for Karp, who had to redshirt his freshman year due to a horrible car accident and a shaky first season which saw him struggle to the tone of a 6.91 ERA.
“It means a lot, it’s a testament to the coaches, the training staff and the strength coaches getting me ready and putting me in a position to succeed.” Karp also noted he believes this success is a result of the work he put in during the offseason on his delivery and regaining the velocity that made him successful before his injury.
The bitterness that the end of this game brought shouldn’t overshadow how sweet Karp was out there, and coach Martin felt the same way. “Isn’t it a shame? What a throw-away start, the guy was absolutely gorgeous.”
The ninth inning brought to light a problem that the noles really didn’t know they had, and that of course is the inability to get the last three outs with the game on the line. Simply put, the Seminoles need to address their closer situation and that was something else 11 harped on.
“We will get together as a staff and decide who is going to close, and when that decision is made, he’ll know, by George it’s mine in the ninth!” Martin said. “He’ll be the only one that’s going to close it, leave him out there, and let him know this is it.”
It remains to be seen who will ultimately be named the closer, but a few names to keep an eye on are seniors Jim Voyles and Alec Byrd, as well as junior sidewinder Chase Haney. All have showed the ability to get big outs in the past, but all of them also contributed to that ugly collapse in the ninth to the Bulls.
The Noles look to put this one behind them as they try to bounce back this weekend against Samford (2-1) starting this Friday at 3PM.