Ryan Valdes played his freshman year of baseball at Florida State in 2013, but saw action in just 13 games and was primarily used as an outfielder and pinch runner.
Following that season, he transferred to State College of Florida where he excelled as a pitcher, posting a 2.03 ERA with a 6-0 record.
In 2015, Valdes was back in Division I baseball, but this time with USF and earning much more playing time. Over appearances in 23 games, including 11 starts, Valdes went 5-4 with a 3.47 ERA and 73 strikeouts across 83 innings.
However, the senior would get little opportunity to build off his first successful season at the Division I level as he suffered a season-ending injury just five games into 2016.
The third consecutive starting pitcher to be coming off a season lost to injury, Valdes will make the start today at 4 p.m. against his former school even after pitching out of the bullpen on Saturday.
He managed to only surrender two hits over two innings, but those hits happened to be back-to-back homers. Regardless of the hiccup, USF coach Mark Kingston said he’s confident in his fourth starter.
“(Saturday) was almost like a bullpen day and I think he’ll learn from it,” Kingston said. “His stuff was good, but he was up in the zone a little bit, so I think he learned (Saturday) that he’s got to get the ball down and hopefully he’ll be sharper (today) than he was.”
USF and No. 5 Florida State have played each other three times over the past two seasons, with the Seminoles winning each contest.
But not only have the Seminoles swept the Bulls over the past two years, they’ve also done so in dominating fashion. Florida State has outscored USF 43-8 over those three games, with the closest game being a 7-3 loss in 2015.
Today, USF looks to avoid repeating history as it travels back up north to Tallahassee to face Florida State and redshirt sophomore Andrew Karp. Last season, Karp appeared in only nine games, starting two of them. He allowed one run over five innings to Stetson, but lasted only one inning in his second start of 2016 when he gave up three runs in one inning against Jacksonville.
Though Karp had an up-and-down freshman campaign, he’ll likely be the beneficiary of significant run support this evening. Despite being held scoreless to open the season, the Seminoles outscored VCU 23-6 over the final two games of the series.
Valdes will do his best to limit the Seminoles’ red-hot bats as he aims for his first win since opening day of 2016 today at Dick Howser Stadium.