Jacksonville, FL - No. 7 Florida State (19-6) broke a 2-2 tie by scoring the game-winning run on a misplayed infield fly in the sixth inning and added a two-run homer in the eighth by senior Stuart Tapley to upend No. 3 Florida (21-5), 5-2, in front of 10,078 fans at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville on Tuesday night.
The Seminoles plated five unanswered runs after falling behind, 2-0, and five relievers combined for six shutout innings of one-hit ball to secure the win. Sophomore Scott Sitz (3-1) notched his third career decision over the Gators, while senior Mike McGee collected his fourth save. With FSU now holding a 2-1 edge in the series, the teams will wrap up their four-game set on April 12 in Tallahassee.
Florida opened the scoring with a two-out RBI double by sophomore Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) in the first inning that scored junior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) all the way from first base. FSU junior Hunter Scantling had retired the first two hitters of the game before Pigott singled into left field. Zunino then raised his hitting streak to 14 games with his fifth double of the year into the left-field corner.
UF used a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Zunino in the third to take a 2-0 lead. With one down, sophomore Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) drew a walk and sophomore Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.) attempted to sacrifice his teammate over but instead reached on a fielding error by sophomore first baseman Jayce Boyd. Scantling plunked Pigott to load the bases with one down and Zunino lofted his first sac fly of the season into left field to drive in Fontana. Scantling had junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) ground out to end the frame.
Junior Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) set down the first eight Seminole hitters before hitting sophomore Justin Gonzalez with two down in the third. The right-hander had a grounder by sophomore Devon Travis force Gonzalez at second base. Scantling worked the first three innings, giving up two hits and two runs (one earned), before sophomore Robert Benincasa came out for the fourth inning.
The Seminoles tied the game in the fourth on a two-run double by junior James Ramsey (2-for-4, two RBI). Junior Sherman Johnson had led off with a single and McGee followed with a ground-rule double over the right-field fence for a pair of runners in scoring position. Sophomore Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) (1-1) was summoned from the bullpen for DeSclafani (3.0 IP, 2 H), 2 R and surrendered a two-bagger into right center by Ramsey for a 2-2 count. After Rodriguez struck out redshirt senior Rafael Lopez for the second out, Tapley reached on an error by Fontana for runners on the corners. The reliever had senior Parker Brunelle force Tapley at second to keep the contest tied.
Freshman Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) started the fifth with a walk and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Fontana. Benincasa worked out of trouble by having Washington line out to right field after a nine-pitch at bat and had Pigott pop out in foul territory near third base.
Rodriguez plunked Gonzalez to begin the home part of the inning and had Travis ground into a 1-4-3 double play. The southpaw walked Johnson but fanned McGee to close the stanza.
Sitz replaced Benincasa (2.0 IP, 2 K) at the outset of the sixth and permitted a one-out single to Tucker that was the Gators’ first hit since the first inning. A fielder’s choice by sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) erased Tucker but sophomore Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) earned a free pass for two runners aboard. Sitz caught senior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) looking on strikes to close the inning.
Helped by a Gator error, Florida State seized a 3-2 advantage in the bottom of the inning. Ramsey led off with a ground-rule double to right field and went to third on a passed ball by Zunino. Rodriguez had Boyd pop up on the infield but Adams misplayed it for an error, enabling Ramsey to come across with the go-ahead run. After striking out Lopez, Rodriguez (2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 K) was replaced by junior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.). The righty induced back-to-back fly-outs by Tapley and Brunelle to hold UF’s deficit at 3-2.
Junior Brian Busch came in for Sitz in the seventh and Washington reached on a two-out fielding error by Boyd. FSU brought senior Daniel Bennett into the game and his first pitch was a grounder by Pigott that forced Washington at second base to end the inning.
In FSU’s seventh, Gonzalez raised his hitting streak to a team-leading seven games with a lead-off single and moved into scoring position on a grounder by Johnson. Junior Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) took over for Larson (1.0 IP, 1 H) and stranded the runner with a strikeout of Johnson and a pop-out by McGee.
After Bennett retired Florida in order in the eighth, Tapley clubbed a two-out, two-run homer off Maronde to finalize the 5-2 margin. Maronde had collected the first two outs before Lopez reached on a bunt up the first-base line. Tapley sent a 1-1 pitch to right field for his third homer of the season. After Brunelle singled, junior Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) replaced Maronde and had a fielder’s choice by Gonzalez force Brunelle at second to close the inning.
Johnson opened the ninth with a walk off McGee but the right-hander answered with strikeouts of junior pinch hitter Jeff Moyer (Winter Springs, Fla.) and sophomore Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) before having Fontana ground out to end the game. Florida State held an 8-3 advantage in hits and each club committed two errors.
Florida (4-2 SEC) returns to league action this weekend by hosting Eastern Division rival Tennessee (18-6/2-4 SEC). The series opener on Friday will begin at 7 p.m.
· Florida State has taken four of the five meetings between the squads in Jacksonville, including four in a row.
· The Seminoles have captured the last seven meetings at neutral sites.
· The three hits by the Gators matched a season low.