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April 19, 2013

FSU's series at UVA big in national seed race



NOTE: Friday's game has been postponed. FSU and UVA will play a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

If Florida State is going to earn a national seed in the NCAA tournament this season, this weekend's series at No. 8 Virginia will go a long way towards determining that.

The sixth-ranked Seminoles currently are 31-6 overall and 13-5 in the ACC. FSU currently has the No. 6 RPI according to the NCAA, while UVA (32-6, 13-5 ACC) sits at No. 7. Perfectgame.org, SEbaseball.com and Baseball America all currently project both teams to earn national seeds.

A series win by either side this weekend in Charlottesville, Va. will be a big step towards solidifying that national seed. The matchup starts Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET.

"I know they're real good," FSU sophomore first baseman John Nogowski said. "Virginia is Virginia. I think we're real excited about going up there. It's a huge series for us and we know it."

Despite losing three of its last five games, including a two of three to No. 15 Georgia Tech, UVA is one of the more balanced teams in the country. The Cavs have a team batting average of .306, average 7.8 runs per game and have stolen 48 bases.

Virginia's pitching staff is equally impressive with a team ERA of 2.76 and three starters with at least 42 strikeouts.

"Virginia is lets face it, one of the top teams in the country," FSU head coach Mike Martin said. "There's no ifs, ands, they're one of the top teams in the country. My guess is Friday night they'll have the biggest crowd to ever see a game in Cavalier history."

The key to the series may fall on each team's bullpen. FSU has a team ERA of 2.60, with six relievers making double-digit appearances and allowing no more than a total of nine earned runs in those outings.

Five of the six Cavalier relievers who have made 10 or more appearances this season boast an ERA under 2.00. Closer Kyle Crockett has seven saves, a 3-0 record and an ERA of 0.62.

"Very, very good pitching," Martin said. "They've been solid in that area for many, many years. Since (assistant coach) Karl Kuhn came over there. I look for one of those games that we have to play very similar to the way we played (Tuesday) night to be successful. They're that good."

Nogowski said he and his teammates relish the opportunity to play other top programs like Virginia. FSU is 3-1 against ranked opponents this season, with two wins over Georgia Tech and a win over Florida when it was still in the Top 25 early in the year.

"It's awesome," Nogowski said. "Just like when Georgia Tech was coming in a couple weeks ago, you definitely can tell. You know when you're playing a real good team, especially in that atmosphere, that good of a team it's going to be fun. We're excited."



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