March 8, 2003
Tallahassee, Fla. – No. 1 Florida State (19-1) erased a 7-4 deficit with three runs in the seventh and two in the eighth to take a 9-7 victory over No. 15 Florida (12-3) in front of 4,028 fans at Dick Howser Stadium Saturday afternoon. The win extended the Seminoles winning streak to 16 games and marked FSU’s 10th win over the Gators in the last 12 meetings. Sophomore shortstop Stephen Drew’s double off the screen in right to score Matt Sauls from first gave Florida State its first lead of the game and was the game-winning RBI. Senior closer Daniel Hodges nailed down his fifth save of the season with a scoreless ninth.
UF went up 4-0 with two runs in the first and third innings. Three of the runs were unearned as a shaky Seminole defense spotted Florida the early lead. Jonathan Tucker scored on an error and Ben Harrison added the second run on C.J. Smith’s double to left center. Tucker doubled down the left field line in the third inning, moved to third on a Drew throwing error and scored on a groundout. Harrison reached on an error and scored the fourth run after stealing third and home.
The Seminoles closed the gap to 4-2 on Jerrod Brown’s bases loaded, two-run single through the left side. Brown improved to 17-for-20 (.850) in his two-year career with the bases loaded. Derrick Smith and Tony McQuade both walked and Tony Richie was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Brown’s single.
Florida State evened the game at 4-4 with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Matt Sauls walked and moved to third on Drew’s single to right center. After Drew stole second, Richie smashed a two-run double to right to tie the game.
UF regained the lead with two runs in the top of the sixth. Jake Riordan doubled home Brian Rose and later scored on Brett Dowdy’s infield single. The Gators added another run in the top of the seventh on Rose’s RBI-double to make it 7-4.
The Seminoles came back with three runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 7-7. McQuade and Richie led off the inning with walks and Brown followed with an RBI-double down the right field line. Chris Hart’s RBI-groundout plated Richie and moved Brown to third. Blake Balkcom’s sacrifice fly to right brought Brown home to tie the game.
Matt Sauls reached on an error to start the eighth inning rally. Drew followed with a run-scoring double off the screen in right. McQuade’s single up the middle scored Drew and gave FSU a 10-8 cushion.
Daniel Davidson (1-0) earned the win with two innings of scoreless relief. Davidson did not allow a hit, struck out three and walked one.
UF reliever Bryan Ball (1-1) took the loss after giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits in one inning of work.
The three game series between Florida State and Florida will conclude in Gainesville on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at Alfred McKethan Stadium. Right-hander Eddie Cannon (0-0, 1.15 ERA) will make his first start for FSU and face Florida right-hander Justin Hoyman (2-0, 2.11 ERA).