Tuesday night started off with what has become an all to familiar feeling for the Florida Gators baseball team this season.
Making his first start since March 13, 2012, Bobby Poyner started the game off strong with a strikeout. D.J. Stewart singled before Poyner struck out Stephen McGee looking for the second out. Marcus Davis put the Seminoles on the board with a two out double that plated Stewart.
And just like that, the Gators were already down 1-0.
On the other side, Florida State starter, Peter Miller, was rolling. Miller retired the first seven Gators he faced before getting into trouble in the third inning.
With one out, Harrison Bader singled to left-center for the Gators first hit and first base runner of the game. Cody Dent followed Bader with a single of his own to give the Gators men on first and second with just one out. Casey Turgeon worked a walk and that loaded the bases for Richie Martin. Martin, who recently returned from a broken finger, hit a sacrifice fly to right field to tie the score.
Florida took their first lead of the three game season series in the top of the fifth inning. After Connor Mitchell and Bader were retired to start the inning the Gators got things going with two outs. Dent drew a walk, Turgeon singled to right field and Martin doubled to right field and that scored Dent. It took 22 ½ innings but the Gators finally had a lead over their in-state rival.
The lead was short lived.
Poyner’s day was done as he gave way to Justin Shafer. Poyner gave Kevin O’Sullivan everything he could have hoped for finishing the game with 4.0 innings pitched, no walks, three strikeouts and just one earned run.
The Seminoles responded in the bottom half of the inning when Stewart launched a solo homerun over the right field wall, tying the score at two.
The Gators went quietly in the sixth inning and FSU got back in it in the bottom half. Pinch hitter, Casey Smit, led the inning off with a single and was moved to second on a groundout from Giovanny Alfonzo. With two outs, O’Sullivan called Ryan Harris’ number. Harris’ first pitch went sailing past his catcher and moved Smit to third base. Jameis Winston doubled to right center but was thrown out at third trying to stretch his hit into a triple. The damage was done and FSU had taken a 3-2 lead.
The Gators would answer in the seventh with a little help from the Seminoles. Bader’s second hit of the night leadoff the inning and a throwing error on an attempted steal allowed him to advance to third base. A passed ball two pitches later allowed Bader to score and tie the game.
Two-sport star Jameis Winston, who is competing for the starting quarterback spot in fall camp, came on in relief and the Gators got to the young pitcher in a hurry. Florida was able to load the bases with just one out. Winston was pulled from the game in favor of Florida State’s closer, Robby Coles.
Coles was able to work out of the jam without giving up a run and momentum swung in favor of the Noles.
FSU started the bottom of the eighth with a base hit from McGee. The hit brought on Daniel Gibson in relief of Harris. Gibson would get Davis to fly out to center but walked Smit right after. Gibson’s next pitch got past Taylor Gushue but only McGee would advance on the wild pitch. Mike Martin was visibly upset with Smit, who stayed at first on the wild pitch, and for good reason. Gibson got a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and Florida State’s threat.
Bader reached first on a throwing error by Jose Brizuela, it was one of four errors in the game for the Noles. Bader advanced to third on a botched pickoff attempt and scored on a Josh Tobias sacrifice fly to right field.
The Seminoles went down in order in the bottom of the ninth to end the game.
This marks the end of a three game series between Florida and Florida State and the Florida win prevented a season sweep of the series.
The win moves the Gators to 16-18 on the season while the loss, the first at home this year, drops the Seminoles to 27-6.
Florida returns to SEC play this Thursday as the South Carolina Gamecocks come in to town for a three game set.