For the second time in three years, Florida State is in the College World Series.
This year’s run was certainly the most improbable for the Seminoles as they went from one of the last teams in the field of 64 to one of the final eight standing in Omaha. FSU clinched the appearance with four straight victories over national seeds with the two in the Baton Rouge Super Regional coming in dramatic fashion.
FSU will see another nationally seeded SEC team on Saturday evening in No. 5 Arkansas. The Razorbacks won the decisive game of the Fayetteville Super Regional over Ole Miss on Monday to join the Seminoles in Omaha.
At 45-18 for the year, Arkansas has very few weaknesses. The Razorbacks will likely throw ace Isaiah Campbell against the Seminoles on Saturday night. For the season, Campbell is 12-1 with a 2.26 ERA and a WHIP below one. Campbell has also struck out 115 batters in 111.1 innings.
At the back end of the bullpen for the Razorbacks, Matt Cronin has been nothing short of fantastic with 12 saves, a 2.00 ERA and just 15 hits allowed to go with 40 strikeouts in 27 innings. Jacob Kostyshock has also been a very reliable arm in relief.
The offense for Arkansas is hitting .300 as a team. With a .356 average, Matt Goodheart is the leading hitter for the Razorbacks while five different players have at least 10 home runs for a team that ranks among the nation’s leaders in that category. Heston Kjerstad and Casey Martin have each left the yard 15 times while Dominic Fletcher leads the team with 59 RBIs.
Mike Salvatore, Reese Albert and Drew Mendoza all came up big for FSU at the top of the order during the Baton Rouge Super Regional. Salvatore’s .341 batting average leads the team while Mendoza has been the top Seminole in the power categories with team-highs of 15 home runs and 56 RBIs. Salvatore, Mendoza, Robby Martin and J.C. Flowers all have at least 50 RBIs this season for FSU.
Flowers has also served as the team’s closer and is just the second player in FSU history with 10 home runs and 10 saves in the same season. C.J. Van Eyk has been the top starter for FSU since the end of the regular season, but lefty Drew Parrish is expected to get the ball on Saturday night against Arkansas. Antonio Velez picked up both wins in relief for the Seminoles during the Baton Rouge Super Regional.
Against common opponents this season, FSU was 4-0 while the Razorbacks were 2-2. All four of those common opponents have come in Florida State’s last four games.
Also on the side of the bracket with FSU and Arkansas will be Michigan and Texas Tech. The Wolverines defeated No. 1 national seed UCLA in the decisive third game on Sunday night to reach Omaha for the first time since 1984. The Red Raiders, the nation’s No. 8 national seed, defeated Oklahoma State in the final game of the Lubbock Super Regional in a slugfest, 8-6, to reach the College World Series for a fourth time in six years.
The winners and losers of both games will square off on Monday. FSU has not kicked off the College World Series with a victory since reaching the national championship game in 1999. FSU is 0-5 all-time against Arkansas with all five losses coming in the NCAA Tournament.