GAINESVILLE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Florida State sophomore pitcher Lacey Waldrop had the performance of her life, striking out a career-high 18 batters as the Seminoles fell to No. 3 Florida, 7-3, in eight innings in front of a record crowd of 2,443 fans at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.
The game was in the Seminoles’ hands (26-11) with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning and Florida State leading the Gators (32-3) 3-1. However, with runners on first and second base, Florida’s Kelsey Horton hit a ground ball to third base that was fielded cleanly but overthrown to Victoria East at first base. The game-changing miscue brought in two runs to tie the game at 3-3.
In the following inning after Florida State was unable to score any runs in the top of the eighth, Florida won the game in the bottom half when Briana Little lifted a walk-off grand slam with one out to win the game for the Gators.
The night, however, belonged to Waldrop and her dominance in the circle. All three of Florida’s runs scored off her were ultimately a result of fielding errors and were unearned. The Chester, Va. native threw 6.2 innings and walked six. Waldrop struck out Florida’s 1-4 hitters 10 times, including three times each for power hitter Lauren Haeger and Kirsti Merritt.
Waldrop struck out three batters in an inning on five occasions on Wednesday night, routinely baffling Florida’s hitters with an array of changeups and other offspeed pitches. Offensively, Morgan Bullock had her second career four-hit performance, finishing 4-for-4 with two RBIs to pace the Seminoles on offense.
Florida’s Hannah Rogers (18-2) earned the win, allowing three runs in eight innings pitched with eight strikeouts. Florida State’s Monica Perry (13-7) absorbed the loss after relieving Waldrop late in the game. The loss to Florida extends the Seminoles’ losing streak to their rivals at 10 games. Florida makes a return trip to Tallahassee on April 17 for a 6 p.m. tilt.
With one out in the top of the first inning, Florida State had a chance to cross the plate first as Courtney Senas lined a double to the right center gap on a full-count offering from Rogers. However, back-to-back strikeouts spoiled the opportunity for the Noles to get on the scoreboard first as Rogers struck out three in the opening frame.
The Seminoles allowed an unearned run in the bottom of the third inning with two outs. Florida’s Lauren Haeger struck out swinging, but a passed ball allowed following the pitch ended up bringing Kelsey Stewart around to score from second base after catcher Celeste Gomez attempted to throw out Haeger at first base. The score made it 1-0 Florida.
Morgan Bullock came through in the top of the fourth inning when she lined a two-run triple over the head of centerfielder Kirsti Merritt, making it 2-1. Bullock brought home Kelly Hensley, who drew a walk to open the inning. Kirstin Austin put runners in scoring position with her double down the right field line. Bullock capped the scoring by crossing the plate on a passed ball, making it 3-1.
Waldrop got out of a major jam in the sixth inning to keep the lead. With one out, Kelsey Horton reached based on a throwing error, and Stephanie Tofft followed with a walk to put runners on first base and second base. Both runners then advanced on a passed ball and the bases became loaded on a subsequent walk. However, Waldrop managed to get Ensley Gammel and Bailey Castro to strike out swinging and end the jam.
Havoc struck in the bottom of the seventh for Florida State. After Waldrop recorded two outs to start the inning, she issued back-to-back walks. Waldrop then induced what looked to be a routine groundout at third base off the bat of Horton, but the throw sailed over the head of Victoria East at first base and brought home two game-tying runs. Perry then entered the game for Florida State and after loading the bases on a walk and hit-by-pitch, she struck out Aubree Munro swinging to take the game into extra innings.
In the eighth, Florida State threatened after Kelly Hensley drew a leadoff walk. With two outs, Bullock lifted a bloop single to left center to put runners on first and second base. Celeste Gomez then stepped to the plate but grounded out to third base to end the threat for the Seminoles. Florida then won the game in the bottom half.
Florida State goes back into ACC action when it travels to Maryland for a three-game set played on Saturday and Sunday. A doubleheader begins the series on Saturday, March 30 at 1 p.m. The final game on Sunday starts at noon.