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Can Carson Dorsey Deliver Some Season Saving Magic?

Florida State’s season is on the line today as they face fellow ACC program Virginia in the first elimination game of the 2024 College World Series. These are the moments where greatness is harnessed and new heroes and legends are born. Unsung heroes are thrust into the limelight and either deliver new lore to their storied programs or crumble under the immense pressure.

Florida State entered the season relying on the arms of Cam Leiter, Jamie Arnold, and Conner Whittaker to make up a strong weekend rotation. For a few months, everything went according to plan as Leiter and Arnold each won ACC Pitcher of the Week awards and Whittaker provided quality innings. Carson Dorsey, a talented junior college transfer, was expected to be a key bullpen arm.

But when Cam Leiter went down following an outing against Louisville at the end of March and a Connor Whittaker injury followed a week later, Carson Dorsey was thrust into the rotation. With only Arnold healthy of the original trio, people around the country were waiting to see if Florida State would falter after a dominant start to the year.

“We had to shift gears,” said FSU head coach Link Jarrett. “Eventually he worked his way into that rotation and had some really good starts against some tough teams on the road.”

Coach Jarrett is referring to a three week stretch where the Noles had to go on the road to Wake Forest and Duke before hosting NC State at home. These three critical series occurred between April 19th and May 6th and would determine the fate of Florida State’s hosting aspirations.

“He seemed to thrive in that situation, starting,” Jarrett explained. “It hasn’t been flawless, but he’s had some good wins against tough teams.”

In that aforementioned stretch against Wake Forest, Duke, and NC State, Carson Dorsey went 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA and 22 strikeouts over 17.2 innings pitched. Florida State won all three starts and managed to go 4-4 in those series. He’s had his bumps as any pitcher will have, but he’s been fantastic this postseason, going 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA with 13 strikeouts against Stetson and Connecticut. 

“He has four pitches in play,” Jarrett said. “When it starts to sync up, he’s got a lot of weapons in play and handles the run game well. He’s a tough kid and it’s nice when he’s starting.”

Prior to the NCAA Tournament, Dorsey had a bit of a slump on the mound in the ACC Tournament. Coming out of the bullpen for the first since a midweek appearance against Jacksonville roughly seven weeks prior, the Panama City Beach native struggled against the same Virginia team he’ll face today.

Relieving Jamie Arnold in the 7th inning with FSU leading 11-2, Dorsey was unable to record an out as he walked Harrison Didawick before giving up three straight extra base hits– including two home runs– to Ethan Anderson, Henry Godbout, and Luke Hanson. After just 17 pitches he was replaced by Brennan Oxford. Florida State was able to keep Virginia at bay for the rest of the game to advance in the conference tournament.

When asked how Dorsey would handle Virginia this time around, Jarrett was quick to point out the southpaw’s growth in such a short time already this season.

“It’s growth in learning, and he was a junior college pitcher. This is a lot different. You have to manage nine to 10 11, 12 really good hitters that are going to come at you.”

Virginia’s offense has been quiet this postseason, but their confidence after hammering Dorsey in their first meeting has to be sky high. Florida State will have most of their bullpen available, but that hasn’t exactly been a strong point for the Noles over the last few weeks. They’ll need Carson Dorsey to give them some length and shorten the game against one of the nation’s elite lineups. Florida State’s hopes and dreams for this season rest almost entirely on his shoulders. His outing will determine if Florida State lives to fight another day or goes home asking themselves ‘what if’?

“He’s had some really good starts,” said Jarrett. “If there’s ever time for one, man, we need it.”

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