Gators take down No. 1 Noles, again

For the second time in a week the Gators and Seminoles met on the diamond and for the second time the Florida Gators (16-9, 3-3 SEC) beat the Florida State Seminoles (19-5, 7-2 ACC) this time at the baseball grounds of Jacksonville.

Tensions boiled over between the two teams in the eighth inning when FSU left fielder D.J. Stewart rolled a ball down the first base line. Florida pitcher Danny Young darted over to pick the ball up, straddling the base path in doing so. Young bobbled the ball and the 6-0, 230-pound Stewart barreled through him on his way to first base. Young collided with first baseman Zack Powers and both Gators tumbled to the ground.

D.J. Stewart collides with LHP Danny Young.
D.J. Stewart collides with LHP Danny Young.

Powers popped up, charging over to Stewart and had some choice words for the Noles leading hitter. Stewart shoved Powers in the chest and both benches cleared. The two teams had to be separated by four umpires and the brawl ended with Stewart, Powers and Young all getting ejected from the game.

The brawl that nearly escalated to fisticuffs woke up the Jacksonville crowd that had been lulled to sleep by a pitching duel.

Justin Shafer earned his first start of the season and threw four brilliant innings of two-hit baseball. Shafer came into the game with just two innings pitched on the season but rose to the occasion against the No. 1 team in the country.

“I thought he threw the ball good,” Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game. “To hold an offense like Florida State to no runs over four innings; he hadn’t pitched in a while, I think that’s pretty darn good.”

Florida’s bats didn’t wait long to get going, scoring a run in the first inning. O’Sullivan shook things up with the lineup, flipping Richie Martin and Casey Turgeon at the top of the order. Both would work walks to start the game and advance into scoring position on a wild pitch. Taylor Gushue was intentionally walked after Harrison Bader struck out, setting the stage for Braden Mattson. Mattson lined a 1-1 pitch into right field for the first run of the game.

We went scoreless for four more innings with Shafer, Young and FSU pitcher Peter Miller dispatching of batters with relative ease.

Florida notched two runs in the bottom of the sixth behind the bats of freshman third baseman John Sternagel and a throwing error from Miller. The Gators would tack on an insurance run in the bottom half of the eighth inning to extend their lead to 4-0.

Trailing by four runs and with just three outs left, the No. 1 Seminoles came out swinging in the ninth inning.

“I think really there’s no doubt that the testosterone and the adrenaline kicked in,” Florida State manager Mike Martin said after the game.

Leading off the inning, Jose Brizuela launched a Ryan Harris fastball high into the night and deep into the right field stands to cut the lead to three. The Noles would get the tying run to the plate in the inning but Harris worked his way out of trouble, earning his fourth save of the season.

 Quick Hitters

  • Florida’s pitching staff has allowed just two runs over 18 innings vs. No. 1 FSU this season. They have tallied 15 strikeouts to just five walks as well.
  • Florida will host No. 3 LSU this weekend for a three-game tilt with the Tigers at McKethan Stadium.
  • The win on Tuesday night secured a series win over Florida State with just one game left to be played between the two rivals on Tuesday, April 8, in Tallahassee.


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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC