Expect the unexpected when the No. 6 Florida State Seminoles (14-1) come to Gainesville at 7 p.m. on Tuesday to face the top-ranked Florida Gators (15-1).
The Seminoles have won seven of last 10 meetings, but both teams were within two runs by the seventh inning in every game but two.
This first midweek matchup between these two teams this season has more on the line than renewing a rivalry, though.
With its weekend sweep vs. Florida Gulf Coast, the Gators moved to 13-straight wins, which sits one less than the school record.
Florida has won 14 in a row just twice—in 2001 and 2004.
Florida State has a winning streak of their own, winning its last 10 games.
As with any Florida-Florida State sporting event, fans from both schools get into it, but Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan doesn’t play into the “rivalry” as much as the rabid supporters.
“I think the fans probably make a bigger deal of (the rivalry) than we do,” O’Sullivan said. “We certainly take every opponent seriously and Florida State, as storied of a program as they have, year in and year out, they’re good. Regardless of who their pitchers are, it seems like every year they’re good. They right there in the hunt.”
This year is no different for the Seminoles.
At 120 runs, Florida State has scored just one less than the Gators in one less game. The only major difference between the two teams statistically is 16 less home runs for Florida State and a slugging percentage .90 points lower.
All-America candidate James Ramsey leads the Seminoles at the plate batting .468. The senior ranks .47 points higher than the next player — junior first baseman Jayce Boyd.
O’Sullivan said Florida State has the best lineup the Gators have seen all season.
“They can really hit,” O’Sullivan said. “Ramsey’s an All-American, Jayce Boyd, he’s having a heck of a year. They have an older infield. They catch the ball. They’re very, very good.”
Both squads will have freshmen pitchers on the mound to start the Tuesday night matchup.
Florida State goes with right-hander Luke Weaver, while O’Sullivan and the Gators counter with left-hander Bobby Poyner starting for the second time in his career.
Poyner allowed just one unearned run on three hits in four innings vs. Florida Atlantic on March 6.
Another Florida freshman shared his thoughts on the Seminoles after the Sunday sweep of Florida Gulf Coast.
Taylor Gushue, a two-time Southeastern Conference Freshmen of the Week, said the Gators have taken time to prepare for Florida State.
“Honestly, we’ve just been taking care of business this weekend,” Gushue said. “We’ll have our day off (on Monday), and we’ll start preparing for FSU then. Actually, preparation starts now.”
Probable starting pitchers
Florida State RHP Luke Weaver (0-0, 20.77) vs. Florida LHP Bobby Poyner (1-0, 1.04)
– In four years with O’Sullivan as coach, Florida dropped 11 of 16 meetings vs. Florida State. The Gators are 4-0 in Gainesville vs. the Seminoles under O’Sullivan. In the last time these two teams faced in Gainesville, outfielder Daniel Pigott hit a walk-off single in the tenth inning to give Florida a 5-4 win.
– As a team, Florida is on pace for 100 home runs. Last season, the Gators hit 69 in 72 games. Florida State has allowed three home runs in 2012 with two belonging to Weaver.
– The matchup Tuesday is just one game from the Fresh from Florida Sunshine Showdown Series. Fresh from Florida promotes buying Florida-grown and harvested products.