April 10, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Top-ranked Florida State (27-6) fell to No. 4 Florida (26-7) 6-3 Tuesday night on Mike Martin Field in front of a sell-out crowd of 6,730 inside Dick Howser Stadium. It marked the fourth largest crowd in school history and the second largest attended game against the Gators in Tallahassee.
For the third time this year, the Seminoles watched an early lead diminish as the Gators staged a come-from-behind victory. With Florida State leading 3-0 after three, Florida scored six unanswered runs to sweep the three-game regular season series for the first time since 1958 when the Gators won both regular season games in Gainesville.
“It’s a game that anything can happen and some nights it does,” said head coach Mike Martin. “The University of Florida did an excellent job of getting key hits and having good at-bats. They just did a very good job, plain and simple. They beat us; they deserved to win. They pitched well, they hit well and they didn’t lose their poise when they got behind. Tip your hat to them; they are a good baseball team.”
Devon Travis once again led the Seminole offense as he registered his third straight three-hit game. The junior second baseman gave the crowd something to cheer about early in the game as he launched a solo home run to centerfield in the first inning to give the `Noles the early 1-0 lead. Travis finished the game a triple shy of hitting for the cycle recording a single in the third and a double in the eighth.
“We have some things that we need to improve on and that is our goal for the rest of the year is to work on our weakness and strive to get better,” added Martin. “It was just a night that Florida whipped us, no excuses.”
Following Travis’ third home run of the season in the first, the Seminole added two more runs off Florida starter Brian Johnson in the third. Travis led off the inning with a single to right and advanced to second on a single through the right side by Ramsey. Both runners advanced a base on a double steal, while Travis came across to score as Mike Zunino’s throw down to second sailed into centerfield. With Ramsey at third after the throwing error, Stephen McGee sent a sac-fly to left to give FSU a 3-0 lead.
After Johnson issued a walk to Justin Gonzalez, the Seminoles would have just one hitter reach base after the third as the Gator bullpen gave up just one hit over the final 6.0 innings. Ryan Harris and Steven Rodriguez combined to retire 13 straight Seminoles before Travis laced a double to right field to open the eighth.
Ryan Harris (1-0) threw three perfect innings in relief to pick-up his first win of the season. Austin Maddox entered with one out in the eighth and retired all five batters that he faced to earn his ninth save of the season.
“He had a very heavy baseball,” said Martin on the performance of Harris. “He sunk the ball well; he was all around the strike zone. He made some very good pitches and got some groundballs. Florida is a very good defensive club and if you hit the ball on the ground they are going to make the play.”
Making his second start of the season against the Gators, Scott Sitz allowed three runs on eight hits as he walked two and struck out one in 5.0 innings of work. After retiring the side in order in the first, the junior right found himself in trouble over the next four innings.
Sitz worked out of a bases loaded, one-out jam twice in the second and third innings before the Gators finally pushed a run across in the fourth. Nolan Fontana drew a walk to open the fourth and scored on Daniel Pigott’s two-out RBI bloop single to right.
Zunino atoned for his throwing error in the third launching a two-run shot off the scoreboard in left in the fifth inning to tie the game at 3-3. The junior catcher took a 1-2 offering from Sitz out of the park for his 10th home run of the season.
“Scotty threw very well tonight,” said Martin. “I was very proud of that bulldog.”
The Gators grabbed their first lead of the evening scoring a run of Kyle Bird (0-1) in the sixth. Fontana once again led off the inning with a walk and moved to second on a fielding error at first. He would later score on an RBI single to left by Casey Turgeon off reliever Brian Busch.
Luke Weaver entered with one-out and the bases loaded in the sixth and kept the deficit at one striking out Zunino for the second time on Tuesday and then getting Preston Tucker to pop up to short.
Florida added a pair of solo shots in the seventh and ninth innings to account for the winning margin. Fontana went deep off Weaver for his seventh home run of the season, while Johnson hit his third home run of the season off Robert Benincasa in the ninth.
“Luke learned a lot tonight,” said Martin. “He pitched very well. That was a very positive part of the game for us is that Luke Weaver went out there and was poised, comfortable and really did a good job.”
Weaver finished his outing striking out a career-high five batters in 2.2 innings of work. The home run given-up by Benincasa was the first one he allowed this year.
“There is certainly a lot of frustration in here, but I know we have a good baseball team,” said Martin. “Florida got it done three times against us. We didn’t give them anything; they went out and got it done. When that happens you just roll to the next day.”
Florida State returns to ACC play this weekend as the Seminoles travel to face Boston College for a three-game series beginning Friday, April 13. First pitch is set for 2:30 p.m. on Friday, 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Fans can listen to the games locally on 1270 AM (Friday), 100.7 FM (Saturday and Sunday) and over the internet at Seminoles.com. Live stats will be available via gametracker, while fans can receive updates on Twitter @FSU_Baseball.