JACKSONVILLE—For one reason or another, the Gators didn’t ever seem to have a chance in their game at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Dominant starting pitching from Florida State starter Ryan Strauss and the explosive Seminole bats combined to give the Gators nightmares whether in the field or at the plate, giving the Seminoles a 10-2 victory in front of a crowd of 7,215.
It started early for the Seminoles at the plate and never really stopped.
Tony Delmonico started the second inning off with a single up the middle. After Mike McGee walked, Stuart Tapley dropped down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner to second and third. Jack Posey laid down a squeeze bunt perfectly to score Delmonico from third to give the Seminoles a 1-0 lead.
“I struggled to find my stuff tonight,” Florida starting pitcher Stephen Locke said. “I did my best to keep us in the game, but it wasn’t good enough in the end. I let the leadoff runners get on too much.”
The third inning produced another run for the Seminoles. Jason Stidham and Buster Posey led off with back-to-back singles. Jack Rye advanced the runners on a sacrifice bunt, and Dennis Guinn reached first on an RBI fielder’s choice, where Posey was run down trying to advance to third. Delmonico then singled on a bunt, followed by McGee doing the same to load the bases. Tapley grounded out to sharply to end the inning.
“I had an idea a couple guys in their lineup might try to bunt, and they did it,” Locke said. “They executed them well. They moved runners over and got base hits with some as well. That was the change in the game in my eyes.”
The Gators tried to fight back in the 5th inning. Jon Townsend and Brandon McArthur started the inning with back-to-back singles, followed by Jonathan Pigott reaching on a fielder’s choice to the pitcher that had McArthur thrown out at second. Buddy Munroe then reached on an infield single to shortstop, scoring Townsend from third.
“It was just one of those days when we couldn’t swing the bat,” second baseman Josh Adams said. “Their guy did some nice things and we couldn’t react. That’s kind of been the story for us sometimes this year.”
The Seminoles added to their lead in the 6th inning with a solo homerun by Tapley. After Clint Franklin allowed a leadoff walk to Tyler Holt in the 7th inning, Buster Posey hit a towering two-run homerun to left field to give the Seminoles a 5-1 lead.
Reliever Kyle Mullaney allowed the Seminoles to put up five runs in the 8th. McGee led off the inning with a walk, followed by a single to center field by Tapley. After a Jack Posey RBI groundout, Holt walked. Stidham drove in a run with an RBI single to center field, and Buster Posey followed with a walk. Rye then drove in a run with a double down the left field line, but was stranded after an RBI ground out by Guinn and a strikeout by pinch hitter Ohmed Danesh ended up inning.
Florida State starting pitcher Ryan Strauss ended up going seven strong innings, allowing four hits and one run.
“He threw the ball well,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He did something we weren’t able to do, and that’s get the leadoff man out. He mixed in his off-speed stuff well.”
Despite Strauss’ dominance on the mound, O’Sullivan’s frustration remained in the lack of adjustments by his offense. The dimensions of the field were bigger than any the team had played on so far, including the center field wall being 420 feet from home plate, and O’Sullivan didn’t see the necessary changes being made by his team.
“Our swings were too long,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve got two strike counts and we’ve got guys who are swinging so hard they are darn near falling over. When a guy has a good fastball, you can’t be swinging as hard as we were.”
The Gators now head home to host the North Florida Ospreys on Wednesday night at 6:30. O’Sullivan sees it as a big game for the Gators to get back on the right track before facing Tennessee on the road this weekend.
“Tomorrow night is a big game for us,” O’Sullivan said. “We need to go back home and regroup. We need to go on the road feeling a little better about ourselves. We need to play better and take care of a good North Florida team that has always played Florida tough.”
Freshman Travis Lawler is expected to start Wednesday’s game on the mound.