Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin Jr. might be breathing a sigh of relief at the idea of merely reaching the conference tournament and making the NCAA postseason.
It took much longer than he – and any other 2020 first-year college baseball head coach – expected. Twenty-three months after accepting the top job at FSU, Martin Jr. will finally lead the No. 23 Seminoles into ACC Tournament action this week.
With the event in Charlotte, N.C., for the first time, FSU was placed in Pool D and will face No. 9 seed Duke and No. 4 seed Miami. The Seminoles (29-21, 20-16 ACC) are the No. 5 seed and will take on the Blue Devils today at 11 a.m. followed by Friday’s tilt at 3 p.m. with the rival Hurricanes.
FSU will have great interest in Thursday’s battle between Miami and Duke at 11 a.m. as well. All three games will be broadcast on RSN (Bally Sports, formerly Fox Sports) and ACC Network Extra.
Pool play rules will take things from there, and the only way for the Seminoles to advance to the semifinal round is to go 2-0 this week. (If the teams are tied at the completion of pool play, the team with the highest seed in the respective pool will advance.)
While some have criticized that format, Martin Jr. likes the fact that it is less taxing for all clubs heading into the NCAA Regionals.
“I’ve seen what happens with arms, guys getting hurt, going through the grind of playing twice a day in the old format that we used to have,” Martin Jr. said. “I just think it’s better to do it this way.”
The Seminoles have navigated several different formats during their decorated 28-year history in the ACC Tournament. They’ve already won eight ACC Tournament titles overall, including three of the past five. FSU also has at least reached the championship game 15 times.
While this is Martin Jr.’s first attempt in the ACC Tournament as head coach, he has been in the Seminoles’ dugout as either a player or assistant coach for 25 of the school’s 28 appearances.
On Tuesday, he clarified a few decisions within the starting pitching staff as well as the bullpen.
Redshirt sophomore reliever Jack Anderson worked in a light throwing session on Monday and is available despite sustaining a minor injury to his throwing hand last week. Anderson has just issued just five walks in 2021 to go along with 43 strikeouts in 20 appearances.
FSU will turn to redshirt freshman left-hander Bryce Hubbart to start against Duke, while opting for ACC Pitcher of the Year Parker Messick to take the mound Friday versus Miami. Messick was utilized in the Sunday slot the final two weekend series in a return from injury, but he said the switch doesn’t affect him.
“It really doesn’t change much. I still have the same routine,” Messick said. “I get a little extra information on the hitters, but I try not to dive into anything too deep and just keep doing what I’ve been doing all season.”
For the seventh time in ACC Tournament action, the Seminoles will face a team in the Blue Devils that they didn’t already play in the regular season. FSU is 5-1 in the six previous contests from 2006 to 2018.
“They’re going to have to do the same thing against us. We don’t know much about each other this year,” Messick said. “It’s going to come down to what the coaches on both sides are able to do with film review and knowing tendencies.”
If the Seminoles can survive and advance from their pool, they could be in for another battle with former FSU shortstop Link Jarrett and No. 1-seeded Notre Dame. Winners from Pools A and D are slotted for Saturday’s 1 p.m. semifinal.
FSU took two of three from the Irish earlier this month in Sound Bend, Ind. It was Notre Dame’s only ACC series loss of the season.