The Florida Gators weren’t going to go 56-0 but this isn’t the team any Gator, player or fan, wanted to see the streak end to Florida State.
The No. 1 Gators carried a perfect 16-0 record into the game as well as an 11-game winning streak over the Noles. Both streaks were snapped Tuesday night with Florida State taking the game 2-0.
“It’s my first time losing to them,” Kirby McMullen said. “We were 9-0, (Austin) Langworthy, Garrett (Milchin), and I were 9-0 coming into today. We definitely wanted to try to keep the streak alive. It definitely sucks that we lost. We have to keep going.”
Nick Pogue earned the start but the sophomore was shaky in the first inning and had trouble finding the zone. Pogue walked Tyler Martin to start the game before getting a strikeout. Reese Albert drove home the first run of the game with a single up the middle to plate Martin.
The assembled crowd of 5,276 didn’t know it then but that would be enough for the Noles on this night.
FSU starter, senior lefty Antonio Velez, mixed three pitches and kept the Gators off balance for six inning of one-hit baseball. He was tremendous.
McMullen gave a fastball a ride in the first inning but right fielder Robby Martin was able to bring it back into the park to keep the score 1-0.
“I faced him last year,” Kirby McMullen said. “He kept us off-balance with his changeup and we didn’t make adjustments. We had soft contact against him and nothing was able to find any holes tonight.”
The Noles just came in fielding just .950 on the season and Kevin O’Sullivan spoke with the team about putting the ball in play and forcing FSU to make plays. Florida didn’t do that, instead struck out 14 times.
The Gators’ pitching staff did its job Tuesday. After Pogue’s first inning he settled in and struck out five over three innings of work. Freshman Tyler Nesbitt took over for him in the fourth and worked three scoreless innings in his first career game against the Noles.
“Once they do their job it’s like, ‘ok let’s get them out of there and let them feel good about themselves,’” O’Sullivan said of Nesbitt. “He threw three scoreless innings against FSU. He did his job.”
The Gators had a few bright spots, Nesbitt’s three scoreless being one of them. Jacob Young also singled in the seventh inning to extend his career-long hitting streak to 18 games.
Florida only really put up a fight offensive once in the game. In the eighth inning, Kendrick Calilao singled to start the inning but Josh Rivera struck out swinging Brady Smith torched a ball right at Jackson Greene at second base, reaching on a fielder’s choice. That left Jud Fabian up with a chance but the sophomore struck out swinging.
The Gators went down in order in the ninth inning as FSU celebrated at McKethan Stadium, in what could be their last game at the stadium.
“You never want to lose any game, let alone to Florida State,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve gotta keep things in perspective. That’s the nature of our sport. There’s going to be some ups and there’s going to be some downs. Really, how you handle the downs is really what will dictate how we’re going to forward here. It’s that simple.”
Florida will host No. 3 Georgia this weekend looking to bounce back.