Riding a four-game winning streak entering last week, the Gators have now dropped three of four after losing to No. 5 Florida State 4-1 on Tuesday in front of 4,709 fans.
The loss dropped Florida to 8-10 on the year, while the Seminoles continue an undefeated start to their season (16-0).
FSU starting pitcher Luke Weaver was a thorn in the Gators’ side all evening, allowing just three hits and one run in 6.1 innings. Weaver retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, and also struck out five.
“He threw the ball good,” Kevin O’Sullivan said of Weaver. “Credit him, threw the ball down in the zone. He mixed his pitches, he did a really good job and he deserved to win tonight.”
Added Harrison Bader: “[Weaver’s] secondary stuff was good. He commanded his fastball really well.”
Florida scored its lone run of the game in the fourth inning, snapping Weaver’s consecutive streak of 16 2/3 scoreless frames. The Gators were able to cross the plate only after Weaver dropped a throw from first baseman John Nogowski, which would have ended the inning.
Freshman Danny Young received the starting nod for Florida on Tuesday, marking his first career start. The southpaw gave up a two-out first inning run, but collected himself to put away seven of the next nine batters faced.
However, trouble struck in the top of the fourth when Young gave up a leadoff single to DJ Stewart before walking Nogowski. O’Sullivan pulled Young in favor of fellow lefty Ryan Harris, but after working an 0-2 count, Harris gave up a two-run single to Giovanny Alfonzo.
Despite being credited with the loss, O’Sullivan said he was pleased with the way Young pitched. “I thought he threw the ball really good,” O’Sullivan said. “Probably ran the pitch count up a little too high, but he threw strikes. I was really pleased with the way he threw the ball.”
The Gators wound up using five pitchers on the evening, and O’Sullivan didn’t seem thrilled with his bullpen’s collective performance.
Florida threw whatever it could at FSU, including freshman Tucker Simpson who started against Indiana on Saturday. O’Sullivan said the fact that Simpson “only threw 45 pitches” against Indiana over the weekend was the reason he was able to go on Tuesday.
The Gators have a big weekend series with No. 10 Kentucky (13-2) beginning Friday, and O’Sullivan says the staff will set a starting rotation on Wednesday. O’Sullivan cited Jay Carmichael and Eric Hanhold as players who could see themselves in the weekend rotation.
Although the beginning of SEC play has officially arrived, O’Sullivan paid little mind to the Gators’ upcoming change in schedule, noting improvements his team needs to make.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s the SEC or whoever we’re playing Friday night, we’ve got to do a better job offensively,” O’Sullivan said. “I think we hit three balls hard all night. Let’s face it, we’ve got some work to do offensively.”