GAINESVILLE, Fla. – No. 5 Florida State (16-0) passed its first road test of the season defeating Florida (8-10) 4-1 Tuesday night inside McKethan Stadium. The win snapped a three-game losing streak to the Gators, while it marked the Seminoles first win in Gainesville since 2007.
“When you look at the game, you start with pitching; there is no question that was the difference in the game,” said head coach Mike Martin. “(Luke) Weaver had a great outing. We had him on a pitch count. He was really impressive with three pitches, his fastball to location. It was really one of his better outings especially under these conditions.”
Luke Weaver (3-0) turned in another outstanding performance on the hill for the Garnet & Gold as the sophomore right hander held the Gators to just one run on three hits in 6.1 innings of work. The lone Florida run came in the fourth inning following the only Seminole error of the game. Weaver finished with two walks and five strikeouts as he left the game after throwing 102 pitches.
“It definitely is awesome,” said Weaver on earning his first career win against UF. “It was a great outing. I wouldn’t say I was perfect as I had some weird things going on during the game, but overall I felt good and was just trying to get some zeros on the board. I was spotting with the change-up and that was probably my primary, count on pitch tonight.”
Gage Smith, Bryant Holtmann and Robby Coles combined to work the final 2.2 innings holding the Gators to just two hits while striking out two. Coles recorded the last four outs of the game to earn his second save of the season.
“Robby Coles was the one that was so impressive tonight,” added Martin. “For Robby to come in and do what he did, that’s so encouraging to us to see him grab the bull by the horns and get his team on the bus to go home.”
Giovanny Alfonzo paced the Seminole offense on Tuesday night with a pair of singles and two RBI. He gave the Seminoles a three-run lead in the fourth on a two-run single down the line in right.
“Gio had some good at-bats,” said Martin. “Certainly the two-run single was huge. I’m seeing a young man become very comfortable with himself out there. I’m just very excited with the progress he is making.”
Josh Delph and Stephen McGee picked up a hit and an RBI, while Seth Miller, DJ Stewart and Jose Brizuela each registered a hit in the win.
“It was just a well-played ball game on both sides,” said Martin. “We had a chance to bust it open a couple of times, but you got to credit the University of Florida they did a great job of getting key outs. What was really exciting is that we turned around and went right back out there and got them out.”
The Seminoles finished the game out hitting the Gators 7-5 as only one of the five hits registered by Florida left the infield.
With the win, the Seminoles improved to 16-0 on the year and are off to the second best start in school history. In 2007, Florida State set the school record for the best start winning its first 23 games.
Florida State grabbed the early lead on Tuesday courtesy of a two-out RBI double off the bat of McGee in the top of the first. Delph led off the game with a single back up the middle off Gator starter Danny Young (0-1). After a sacrifice bunt by Brett Knief moved Delph to second, Marcus Davis reached on fielder’s choice back to the mound. Young fielded the groundball and got Delph in a rundown for the second out of the inning as Davis took second on the play. McGee followed with an RBI double, his fifth of the season, scoring Davis from second to give FSU a 1-0 lead.
The Gators recorded their first hit of the game off Weaver with two outs in the second when Vickash Ramjit singled back up the middle. But Weaver got Connor Mitchell to line out to Delph in right on the very next pitch to retire the side.
The Seminoles left two stranded in the third when John Sansone reached on a two-base fielding error by Ramjit at first and Knief was hit by a pitch. Young responded by recording back-to-back fly outs to keep FSU’s lead at 1-0.
FSU extended its lead to 3-0 in the fourth on a two-run single by Alfonzo. Stewart led off the inning with a single through the right side and John Nogowski followed with a walk. After a sac-bunt by Brizuela moved both runners 90 feet, Florida went to the bullpen and brought on Ryan Harris. The Gator reliever quickly put Alfonzo in a 0-2 hole, but on the next pitch the sophomore shortstop laced a single down the line in right to score Stewart and Nogowski to give the Seminoles a three-run cushion.
“I was just trying to stay simple,” said Alfonzo. “The first two swings I took were really big. He came in with two fastballs and I was a little late, so I just tried to stay simple and hit a groundball to second base to bring in a run. Luckily he left the pitch up and I hit it down the line.”
Florida responded with a run in the bottom of the fourth taking advantage of a Seminole error to cut the deficit to 3-1. With Harrison Bader on at third after leading off the inning with an infield single, Weaver looked to get out of the inning unharmed as Taylor Gushue hit a groundball to first. But the Seminole pitcher took his eye off the underhand flip from Nogowski as he was covering the bag and the ball tipped off the top his glove allowing Bader to score the first and only Gator run of the game.
Florida State pushed its lead back to three with a run in the sixth to take a 4-1 lead. The Seminoles loaded the bases off Harris on a hit-by-pitch to Nogowski, a single by Brizuela and a walk to Sansone. On the first pitch to Delph, Harris hit the Seminole right fielder in the leg to plate Nogowski.
The Gators threatened in the bottom of the seventh but Smith came on in relief of Weaver and got two big outs with a pair of runners on base as FSU maintained its three-run lead. Smith forced pinch hitter Christian Dicks into a fielder’s choice groundout at second and then got an outstanding defensive play by Alfonzo at short to throw out pinch hitter Kevin Stypulkowski at first on a slow groundball.
Holtmann entered in the eighth and faced four batters before leaving the game with some pain in his left shoulder. The sophomore southpaw registered two outs and gave up a pair of infield hits.
Coles replaced Holtmann on the mound and hit Gushue on his first offering. The junior right hander would get out of the jam as he worked ahead of Ramjit and got the Gator third baseman to groundout to short to end the threat.
Coles returned to pitch the ninth and recorded the final three outs of the game on a groundout, a strikeout and a fly out to earn his second save of the season.
Florida State will return to ACC play this weekend as the Seminoles travel to face Maryland for a three-game series beginning Friday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. Saturday’s game is set for 1:30 p.m. and Sunday is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. first pitch.
Fans can listen to all three games live on the All-Access player. Locally, fans can listen to the game on 1270 AM (Friday) and 100.7 FM (Saturday and 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 all three games will be available via gametracker.