In the box score it looks like a line drive and that’s how Mark Kolozsvary will remember his go-ahead single in the seventh inning.
The excuse me swing gave the Gators a 1-0 lead that they would hold on to, handing the newly anointed No. 1 team in the country its fourth loss of the season.
The No. 5 Florida Gators were struggling to figure out Florida State starter Andrew Karp. The junior righty had struck out nine batters heading into the seventh and was cruising. Jonathan India got a fastball over the plate, lacing it into the right-center gap for a one-out double before Karp struck out Keenan Bell, his 10th strikeout of the game. Nelson Maldonado wore a fastball on his shoulder before Kolozsvary (hitting just .214 (6-28) on the season.
Kolozsvary watched ball one and stepped out of the box. With two outs in a tie game and a runner in scoring position third base coach Craig Bell simply clapped his hands. There was no sign to give, swing away. Kolozsvary started to swing at the next offering, a high fastball.
“It looked like a fastball,” he said. I was just trying to put a barrel on a ball.”
Then he second-guessed himself.
“It looked like it was more in and I tried to check swing.”
The momentum he had already created won out, Kolozsvary bat seemingly stopped right as it made contact with the ball but he couldn’t have placed it any better if he was given 10 tries at throwing the ball.
“Sometimes you place it perfectly,” Kolozsvary said. “I guess.”
That run was all Florida needed thanks to four freshmen pitchers. Nate Brown earned the start, the second of his career, and churned out his best performances in front of 5,806 fans. Brown retired the first eight batters he faced on the night. He scattered three hits and only got in trouble once.
“It was a good ole pitcher’s duel. We had some young freshmen step up and grow up, actually,” Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Nate Brown, had a long talk with him yesterday and explained to him exactly what he needed to do to be successful and he went out and threw the ball great.”
After two quick outs in the fifth inning, Brown gave up two infield singles. The score was still knotted at zero and Kevin O’Sullivan was on the way to the mound.
“I wanted to stay out there,” Brown said after the game. “(Sully) came out there and helped me through it, helped me settle down a little bit.”
Brown got a flyout to center to get out of the inning before Kirby McMullen replaced him. McMullen faced two batters, giving up a single and a sac bunt before Andrew Baker came out of the bullpen. Baker, who has had a few rough outings of late, retied Florida State’s three and four batters to get out of the inning. The freshman struck out the side in the seventh inning, the first time he’s struck out the side in his career. Baker also earned his first career win.”
“That was a great feeling,” he said of the seventh inning. “I haven’t had that yet, it’s my first win against FSU. That was a really good feeling. I love that.”
Baker returned to the mound in the eighth inning and retired the side on six pitches
“We had a decision there in the ninth, because Baker was cruising,” O’Sullivan said. “They had Busby leading off, the right hander, then Aplin next and obviously the switch hitter with Raleigh and if you get a chance you want to turn Raleigh around right-handed.”
Baker, a lefty, would give the Gators a left-on-left matchup for Aplin and force Raleigh to hit right-handed, but O’Sullivan, still looking to find a closer, made the move to go to Tyler Dyson.
“In thinking about it before the bottom of the ninth,” he said. “For the development of our pitching staff and as a team it was important to get Dyson out there.”
The freshman struck out two to earn his first save of the season and give the Gators their first win over the Noles this season. Florida has held FSU scoreless in 31-consecutive innings dating back to last season and won eight of the last nine dating back to 2015.
The Gators will kick off the SEC schedule this weekend on the road when the head to play a three-game set with Auburn.