It was one of those nights for the No. 3 Florida Gators (23-7, 5-4 SEC) as they took on No. 11 Florida State (23-7) in Jacksonville for the second game of the Sunshine Showdown series. As has been the case lately, the pitching staff let Florida down in a 8-3 loss — a score not indicative of how lopsided this game truly was.
“Credit Florida State, they played really well tonight,” Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I thought (Bryant) Holtmann did a nice job in a starting role and we had a good plan against him. He executed a lot of pitches and did a really nice job.”
Despite giving up a single and hitting a batter, starter Alex Faedo was able to get a double play to get himself out of the inning. Faedo’s luck wouldn’t be the same in the second.
Faedo got two outs and then gave up a double and a single for the first run of the game. Two-out hitting would become a theme for the Noles as they scored half of their runs with two outs. Florida State added another run in the third before the Gator offense showed any signs of life.
Richie Martin grounded out and Harrison Bader flied out to set the stage for Josh Tobias. The senior third baseman launched a solo home run down the left field line for a home run, cutting the Seminole lead in half.
Faedo, however, returned the favor to Florida State when he left a 1-0 offering up to catcher Danny De La Calle who returned fire with a home run of his own to make the lead 3-1 in Florida State’s favor.
The Gators would have a chance to rally in the sixth inning. Dalton Guthrie led off with a single back up the middle and Richie Martin shot a ball through the left side to give Florida runners on first and second, no outs and the middle of the lineup coming up.
Harrison Bader worked himself into a favorable 3-1 count but lofted a lazy fly ball into the outfield for out number one. Tobias struck out swinging and Buddy Reed popped out to short. Inning over. Rally over. Momentum killed.
“We had a chance in the sixth with first and second and nobody out and we had our 3-4-5 hitters coming up and I think he got to a 3-1 count with (Harrison) Bader and induced a fly ball and then he did a nice job,” said O’Sullivan. “The bottom line is they played better than we did tonight and we have some work to do to get better. Credit their hitters, they did a nice job and battled at the plate; we’ve been on the other side of that too plenty of times.”
The Gators added two runs in the ninth inning but never really threatened Florida State the entire night. The Gators must regroup quickly as they head to Missouri for a three game series with the Tigers.
“We have to get back to the drawing board and get ready for the weekend at Missouri,” Richie Martin said. “We had our chances and didn’t take advantage of them tonight.”