GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Top-ranked Florida State (17-3) dropped the first meeting of the season from intra-state rival Florida (14-7) falling to the Gators 3-1 Tuesday night in front of an announced crowd of 5,657 inside McKethan Stadium.
Florida State out hit Florida 9-6 but struggled to string together timely hits as it marked the first time this year the Seminoles dropped a game when out hitting their opponents (13-1).
“It was one of those game that if you truly analyze it, you tip your hat to the University of Florida,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “They did a good job of getting out of some jams by making some quality pitches. They did everything it took to win the ball game from getting the key hits when they needed it; so tip your hat to them.”
The loss was FSU’s sixth in its last seven trips to Gainesville while four of those losses have been decided by three runs or less.
Peter Miller (1-1) suffered the loss despite pitching well Tuesday night as the senior right hander allowed two runs on three hits as he walked one and struck out five in 5.1 innings of work. Miller retired the first five batters that he faced and allowed just one runner to advance past second base through the first five innings.
“Very, very pleased,” said Martin on the outing by Miller Tuesday night. “Miller pitched like we have expected him to pitch. I am just very, very proud of him.”
Jose Brizuela tied a career-high with three hits as he was responsible for FSU’s only run of the night. The junior from Weston, Fla., finished the night 3-for-4 with two singles and a solo home run. Danny De La Calle and DJ Stewart finished with two hits each.
The Seminoles could not capitalize early leaving five runners stranded through the first three innings after recording five hits and drawing a walk off UF starter Danny Young. Justin Gonzalez and Stewart registered back-to-back singles in the top of first but Young got out of the jam when Brett Knief grounded into an inning ending double play.
In the third, Florida State loaded the bases with no outs as De La Calle and Josh Delph opened the inning with consecutive singles while Gonzalez drew a walk. Young battled back and kept FSU off the scoreboard getting Stewart to fly out in foul territory, Knief looking on strikes and John Nogowski to groundout to third to retire the side.
“We didn’t do anything to beat ourselves tonight, they beat us,” added Martin. “You have to credit Danny Young; he made a very good slider pitch to him (DJ in the third) and got what he wanted. They just deserved to win the game.”
Florida’s Josh Tobias broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the third taking the first pitch from Miller to start the inning over the wall in left for his first home run of the season.
The Seminoles finally got on the board in the sixth on the solo shot by Brizuela. The junior third baseman took a 2-1 pitch from Aaron Rhodes off the scoreboard in right for his first home run of the season to tie the game at 1-1. It was also his first round tripper since going yard against Troy in the NCAA Regional championship game in Tallahassee.
The Gators came right back with two runs in the bottom of the sixth to retake the lead at 3-1. Richie Martin led off the inning with a double down the line in right and moved to third on a sac-bunt by Casey Turgeon. That would end the night for Miller as Martin went to the bullpen and called on Bryant Holtmann. Harrison Bader greeted Holtmann with an RBI triple off the wall in right on his very first offering to give Florida its one-run lead back. Taylor Gushue gave the Gators a two-run cushion on a sac-fly to right to score Bader.
Holtmann finished the night working an inning as he gave up a run on two hits while striking out two.
Florida’s Young went just three plus innings on Tuesday night giving up six hits and a walk but did not allow a run. He finished with two strikeouts and did not factor into the decision.
Rhodes picked up the win moving to 2-0 on the year. The Gator right hander went 3.0 innings allowing one run on three hits as he struck out four. Bobby Poyner worked the final three innings to earn his first career save as the junior southpaw retired all nine batters that he faced.
Gage Smith made his 15th appearance of the season and worked 1.2 scoreless innings.
Florida State remains on the road to face Clemson for a three-game conference series beginning Friday, March 21. All three games will air on ESPN3 with Sunday’s game also televised on CSS. Fans can listen to all three games on the Seminoles.com All-Access player and locally on 1270 AM (Friday) and 100.7 FM. Live stats will be available via www.clemsontigers.com.