Florida (14-7, 2-1 SEC) hosted the No. 1 team in the nation in front of a season-high crowd of 5,657 fans and upset the visiting Florida State Seminoles (17-3, 5-1 ACC) by the score of 3-1 on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium.
The game was tied through two innings before Florida State threatened to blow the game open in the top of the third. Danny De La Calle and Josh Delph led things off with back-to-back singles before starting pitcher Danny Young walked Justin Gonzalez to load the bases with nobody out.
Things looked grim for the Gators with the Seminoles team leader in batting average — DJ Stewart — coming to the plate. Young got Stewart to foul out to Josh Tobias at third and followed it up by striking out Brett Knief on four pitches.
“Just gotta make a pitch,” Young said after the game. “Stewart was up, got him to fly out, thank God. It’s tough to get yourself in that trouble. Gotta find a way to get out of it.”
Young would find a way to get out of the inning, but not without a little help from his defense. Noles first baseman John Nogowski hit a hard grounder that drew Tobias over towards the line. Tobias nabbed the ball and thought about trying for the force out at third before changing his mind and firing over to first in time to get the Gators out of a jam.
“I was gonna try to tag the base at third but I kind of slipped,” Tobias said. “I knew Nogowski wasn’t very fast so I was like, I got a chance to throw him out, so I did.”
The Florida bench erupted after Young and the Gators were able to work out of the situation and momentum had clearly swung in Florida’s favor.
“Danny did a heck of a job, it’s tough to get out of a bases loaded jam,” LHP Bobby Poyner said after the game. “He made good pitches when he needed him to.”
After making the play to get Florida out of the jam, Tobias led off in the bottom of the third. He didn’t wait to get things going, scorching a first pitch fastball high into a cool Gainesville night and safely into the left field bleachers to put the Gators up 1-0.
“It felt really good,” Tobias said of the home run. “I saw a good pitch to see and just put the barrel on it, wasn’t trying to do too much with it.”
Florida State answered with a home run of their own in the top of the sixth inning off of relief pitcher Aaron Rhodes but the Gators would answer in the bottom half of the inning.
Richie Martin led things off with a double down the right field line and was moved over to third by a Casey Turgeon sac bunt. Harrison Bader traded places with Martin when he crushed the first pitch he saw over Delph’s head in right field for an RBI triple. Taylor Gushue — who has been swinging a hot bat — hit a sacrifice fly to right field to extend Florida’s lead to 3-1.
Poyner came in with a runner on first and no outs in the seventh inning and promptly sat down all nine Seminoles that he faced for his first save of the season.
“This is one of those games where they just force you to grind it out,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said after the win. “I can see why they’re ranked where they’re ranked and why they’ve had success. It’s just a tough lineup, one through nine.”
Florida has won eight of their last nine games and will travel to College Station to take on the Aggies of Texas A&M this weekend.
This is the first of three times that Florida and Florida State will meet. They will play again in Jacksonville on March 25 and in Tallahassee on April 8.