Pair of freshman hitters making instant impact for No. 14 Florida State baseball
The Florida State baseball team is looking to bounce back from its first loss of the season this weekend.
After a 3-0 start, the No. 14 Seminoles (3-1) dropped their midweek road game at Jacksonville Tuesday as the bats went a bit cold in a 3-2 loss. They will look to rediscover their winning ways at home this weekend when they play host to Samford (4-0) starting Friday at 6 p.m.
FSU holds a commanding lead over the Bulldogs in the all-time series, having won 21 of the 23 matchups. However, this will be the first time these teams have faced off since Samford beat the Seminoles 7-6 in their first game of the 2018 Tallahassee Regional.
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That FSU team, the No. 7 overall seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, lost 3-2 to Mississippi State the next day and was swept out of its own regional.
This Samford team enters the 2022 season with a new head coach. Former associate head coach Tony David is now in his first season as head coach after Casey Dunn left to take the same position at UAB.
"It's always a challenge with them. They're a perennial regional team, they know what they're doing," FSU head coach Mike Martin Jr. said of Samford.
"New coaching staff so we don't really know what to expect there."
Pair of freshman hitters off to hot starts
FSU freshmen James Tibbs and Jaime Ferrer have instantly made themselves right at home in the Seminoles' lineup.
Tibbs has established himself as the starting left fielder while Ferrer, listed as an outfielder/catcher, has been serving as the Seminoles' designated hitter. Both of them have hit the ground running as middle-of-the-order bats.
Entering their second weekend series as Seminoles, both Tibbs and Ferrer have active four-game hitting streaks with at least one hit in each game of their young FSU careers so far.
"They can really hit," Martin said of the freshman duo.
"We knew that from early on. They put together good (at-bats), both of them utilize the whole field."
For Tibbs, who hails from Marietta, Ga., that began from his very first at-bat. He hit an opposite-field home run in his first at-bat as a Seminole last Friday vs. James Madison.
Tibbs followed that up with a double in each of FSU's next two games against the Dukes. Through four games, he has four hits, three of which are extra-base hits, and three runs batted in.
"To be honest with you, I don't really know. I couldn't really tell you," Tibbs said when asked of his home run in his first at-bat at FSU.
"I just went up there, put a bat on the ball and next thing you know I'm rounding second base. It was surreal. Going back and watching it, it was cool to see it for the first time. Really cool experience."
Not to be outmatched, Ferrer, a native of Bayamón, Puerto Rico, has five hits in his first four games at FSU, including a pair of doubles.
Ferrer's .385 batting average so far this season is second-best among the everyday starters behind only fifth-year senior outfielder Reese Albert. Tibbs isn't too far behind that at .333.
Samford lineup another test for FSU pitching staff
Through four games, the FSU pitching staff has lived up to its reputation.
The Seminoles have allowed 10 runs through four games this season for an average of 2.5 runs allowed per game.
FSU's pitching staff handled its first test well, largely shutting down top MLB Draft prospect Chase DeLauter and the JMU lineup. But the Samford bats are set to arrive in Tallahassee on a red-hot start to their 2022 season.
So far this season, the Bulldogs have scored at least six runs in every game. They scored at least nine runs in each game of their weekend sweep of Arkansas State to start the season and have 35 RBI as a team through four games.
Veteran outfielder Towns King leads this Samford lineup. He has homered in each of the Bulldogs' four games this season, quickly amassing four homers and nine RBI while hitting .400 and slugging 1.267.
Junior outfielder Maurice Hampton Jr. is also off to a hot start to his 2022 season, hitting .538 with a homer, a triple and four RBI.
"The power of their group offensively, they've always been that type of program," Martin said.
"They really get a good pitch to hit and hit it in the trees. You'd better make quality pitches to them or they'll do just that."
While Samford's lineup, top to bottom, isn't as lethal as some FSU will face once ACC play begins, there are quite a few hitters who will challenge Parker Messick, Bryce Hubbart and the rest of the Seminoles' talented staff this weekend.
No. 14 Florida State vs. Samford
When: Friday, 6 p.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: Dick Howser Stadium
TV/Radio: ACC Network Extra/100.7 FM
Reach Curt Weiler at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @CurtMWeiler.
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: FSU baseball looks to win against Samford after first loss of season