April 5, 2012

Martin encourages offense in face of mini-slump

Despite losing to a team that came into Tallahassee eight games under the .500 mark, Seminole head coach Mike Martin said he wouldn't be kicking any water coolers in the clubhouse ahead of a weekend on the road.

Even though his bats were held to three hits and produced two or fewer runs for the second time in three games, there would be no scolding.

On the contrary, Martin said his coaching goal would be one of encouragement; to take the same approach this weekend as against Florida Gulf Coast. As Martin explained, in baseball, negative results don't always indicate a negative approach.

"I am concerned in the fact that we can't allow people to get down," he said. "If they're getting good swings at good pitches, and they happen to be hitting the ball at people, then my job is to make sure they don't get down, they don't go up there and get out of themselves."

So Florida State (24-5, 11-1 ACC) will fly up to Atlanta for a weekend series with 24th-ranked Georgia Tech (19-11, 6-6) in search of timely hits and positive offensive reinforcement. The Yellow Jackets are winners of four out of their last five and stand in a tie for third in the Coastal Division of the ACC.

"We know that we have to play well to get it done," said Martin. "They've have some injuries and they're getting some players back now."

One key player who has returned recently is catcher Zane Evans. After missing four games with a groin injury, Evans (.309 BA, HR, 27 RBI) has participated the last four games as the designated hitter. But as the Jackets get their star catcher back, the status of heralded closer Luke Bard (arm) will be in doubt this weekend.

Friday's match-up between the teams will feature two interesting storylines. Coming off a brilliant seven-inning performance, Seminole starter Brandon Leibrandt (3-1, 2.91 ERA) will have a homecoming of sorts, as the Alpharetta, Ga.-native will have plenty of interested observers in the stands.

"I'm definitely excited to pitch in front of my friends and family," Leibrandt said, playfully adding that his teammates have "hogged" away any visitors' ticket allotment. "But I'll just treat it like any other game."

On the other side of the field, Georgia Tech will send righty Buck Farmer (5-2, 4.17 ERA) to the hill. Although Farmer's ERA doesn't jump off the page, the junior is the reigning ACC Pitcher of the Week after tossing the conference's first complete-game shutout last Friday against Duke. Game one is set for a 7 p.m. EST first pitch Friday night, and live action will be carried on ESPN3.

Saturday evening features two youngsters, as Seminole freshman Mike Compton (6-0, 1.91 ERA), fresh off a gem of his own, will battle against sophomore righty Dusty Issacs (4-1, 3.37 ERA). Game time is set for a 6 p.m. EST, also on ESPN3.

Easter Sunday gets under way at 1 p.m. EST as the Seminoles' Peter Miller (4-1, 3.38 ERA) looks to build off his five-inning, two-run performance against Virginia Tech. Miller will face off against freshman right-hander Cole Pitts (4-1, 3.79 ERA) on both ESPN3 and CSS.

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