Sarah Tuttle, Web Editor
The Samford baseball team hit the road for the first time this season to challenge the fifth-ranked Florida State Seminoles. Samford lost all three games of the series in what turned out to be a challenging weekend.
Head coach Casey Dunn said he was disappointed with the outcomes of the games, but he knows Florida State exposed areas that the Bulldogs need to work on.
“We didn’t execute anything well as a team. However, T.J. Dixon and Kevin Williams swung the bats well, and Taylor Garris showed the ability to be a plus defender at third,” Dunn said. “Also, I was encouraged by a couple of guys out of the bullpen that made the most of their opportunities.”
In Friday’s series opener, Florida State took an early 5-0 lead in the first inning. The Seminoles racked up runs in the second and fifth inning as well, finishing with a 16-3 win. Dixon, a senior, and Williams, a junior, were still able to perform offensively despite the loss. Williams tallied two home runs in the game, doubling his season total and moving him into a tie for the category lead in the Southern Conference. Dixon added three hits in his four at-bats to the effort as well.
“The game on Friday was when I was able to execute my plan at the plate best. I knew going into the game they were throwing a hard right-hander who had been up to 96 miles per hour in the past, so I knew I was going to get something hard regardless of the pitch or location,” Dixon said. “I just went up there ready to hit the fastball, and thanks to the man upstairs I was able to get three hits that day.”
On Saturday, Samford continued to struggle during game two. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Florida State earned five runs on two hits, including a grand slam. The Seminoles ended the game with an 8-0 win over the Bulldogs.
“We struggled to throw strikes on the mound, make the correct decisions defensively, and we did not execute our offensive game plan,” Dunn said.
Sunday’s series finale also ended poorly for Samford with a 4-13 loss. The Bulldogs were able to perform better offensively than in the previous two games, but Florida State dominated the scoreboard. However, Dixon said an eighth-inning rally gave Samford hope for its upcoming matchups.
“For me, the last game on Sunday stood out the most because even though we started off poorly, we rallied and fought at the end to string together a few runs that will be huge for our momentum going into this week,” Dixon said.
That momentum propelled the Bulldogs to a 7-6 win over Auburn on Tuesday. The team came out of the gate firing, posting six of its seven runs in the first inning. Though the Tigers tried to make a late charge, Bulldogs’ junior pitcher Wyatt Burns was able to close out his third save of the season.
Samford is currently preparing to host Indiana this weekend, March 3-5, in a three-game home series. Dunn said that the team will focus on fundamentals as it gets more opportunities to play quality teams.
“I really believe we have the pieces to be successful,” Dunn said. “We just have to be able to develop our guys and put them in situations to succeed.”
The Bulldogs will be back in action Friday, March 3, at 4 p.m., as they host the Hoosiers at Joe Lee Griffin field.