JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A two-out RBI infield single by Giovanny Alfonzo in the bottom of the eighth was the difference Tuesday night as No. 4 Florida State (23-2) defeated Florida (11-15) 2-1 on a cool, breezy evening in front of an announced crowd of 9,269 inside The Baseball Ground of Jacksonville.
“It felt great,” said Alfonzo. “I just calmed down and told myself to see the ball and hit the ball. We had a couple opportunities early in the game including one myself and didn’t come through. I just had to remind myself there was no pressure but it felt great once I got to first base.”
The win clinched the season series for the Seminoles after the Gators won all three games last year. FSU also improved to 5-2 all-time against Florida inside the Baseball Grounds.
“It was exciting, it was fun and it’s just something that we are going to enjoy for a couple of days,” said head coach Mike Martin. “We were fortunate tonight to get the win, but very proud to get it done.”
“It feels good because last year they shut us out,” said Alfonzo on getting the series victory over the Gators. “It’s nice to know that we won the first two but we still have one more to take care of at home.”
For the second time in as many starts against the Gators, Luke Weaver turned in another spectacular performance despite not factoring into the decision. The sophomore right hander went 6.0 strong innings allowing just one run on three hits as he walked one and tied a career-high with nine strikeouts.
“You look at what has been the story most of the year and that’s our pitching,” added Martin. “It was a game that we got crucial relief work. And you can’t say more about the outing that Luke Weaver had tonight. To strike out nine in 6.0 innings, I mean that’s a very good baseball team (to do that against).”
After allowing one run and all three hits in the second, Weaver retired the next 11 batters that he faced until Harrison Bader reached on a fielding error with one out in the sixth. In two starts against Florida, Weaver has allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits with 14 strikeouts. The DeLand, Fla., native has now worked at least 6.0 innings in all five of his starts this year.
“I came out throwing a little too hard, got a little tight in my arm so I had to spot up a little more,” said Weaver. “I was getting a little lackadaisical with first pitch balls so I attacked more and got the counts in my favor.
The bullpen was once again outstanding as Bryant Holtmann, Gage Smith and Robby Coles combined to blank the Gators over the final three innings.
Holtmann was effective in his 1.2 innings in relief as the sophomore right hander allowed just one base runner in the six batters that he faced issuing a two-out walk in the eighth. Smith (3-0) came on and closed out the inning on just one pitch as Justin Shafer grounded into a fielder’s choice putout at second to earn his third win of the season.
Coles worked a perfect ninth to record his fifth save in as many opportunities. The junior right hander got Zack Powers swinging on strikes to end the game.
With the game tied 1-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth, Jose Brizuela led off the inning with a double down the line in right off Gator reliever Danny Young (0-2). After a balk moved Brizuela to third with no outs, Florida made two pitching changes which resulted in two outs. Then Alfonzo stepped in and after looking at a called strike laced the next pitch from Daniel Gibson back up the middle for a base hit to score Brizuela.
“Brizuela has done a good job all year long,” said Martin. “I am just glad to see him have a good at-bat. He is going to battle you. He is going to do everything he can to get on base.
“Gio has had good at-bats all year. It was nice to see him come through with the big hit there in the eighth.”
Florida State finished the game with two hits including two each by Marcus Davis and John Sansone.
The Seminoles struck first on Tuesday night when John Nogowski drew a bases loaded walk with two outs in the bottom of the first to give FSU a 1-0 lead. Josh Delph got things going with a double to left center followed by a single off the mound by Davis. DJ Stewart loaded the bases as he was hit by a pitch from Florida starter Tucker Simpson. The Gator right hander then registered two strikeouts and got ahead in the count to Nogowski. But the Seminole first baseman put up a good battle and on the ninth pitch of the at-bat drew a walk to bring home Delph for the first run of the game.
The lead was short lived for the Noles as the Gators came right back with a run in the top of the second to tie the game at 1-1. Powers hit a two-out double off the wall in right and scored two batters later on an RBI single to right center by Connor Mitchell. With runners at the corners, Weaver got out of the jam by getting Christian Dicks swinging on strikes.
Simpson’s night was over after three innings of work as the freshman from Oxford, Ala., would not factor into the decision allowing a run on three hits as he walked three, struck out three and hit two batters.
After giving up a run in the second, Weaver went on a roll retiring 11 straight Gator batters before Bader reached on a fielding error at short with one out in the sixth. Following a fly out to right by Shafer, Weaver threw wildly over to first on a failed pickoff attempt allowing Bader to scamper into third. The Seminoles then intentionally walked Taylor Gushue to face Vickash Ramjit and the move paid off as Weaver got the senior first baseman swinging on strikes for the second time on Tuesday to end the sixth.
Florida State remains on the road and returns to league play to face Virginia Tech for a three-game series in Blacksburg beginning Friday, March 29, 2013. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. All three games will be streamed live through the Virginia Tech All-Access player, while fans can listen to all three games on the Seminoles.com All-Access player. Locally, fans can listen on 1270 AM (Friday) and 100.7 FM (Saturday & Sunday).
As always, Seminole fans can follow the Noles on twitter @FSU_Baseball and remember to like the Seminoles on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FSUBaseball). Live stats for the game will be available via gametracker.