Mike Martin is a legend in college baseball. He recently won his 2,000th -career game in what will be his final season. Before the game the Florida Gators and Kevin O’Sullivan presented him with a personalized golf bag and set of clubs along with an Alaskan cruise.
Then they handed him a 20-7 loss, the most runs the Florida Gators have scored against Florida State since 1980 — in Mike Martin’s 10th game as the Noles’ skipper.
The first four innings were all No. 10 Noles though and it looked like Martin and FSU would snap an eight-game losing streak to Florida.
Jordan Butler drew the start for the No. 5Gators and quickly gave up a run on a pair of doubles in the first inning. Freshman shortstop Nander De Sedas launched a solo home run over the stands in left field to make the score 2-0. Butler wouldn’t make it out of the inning, replaced by Christian Scott.
Scott would throw into the fifth inning. He walked Mike Salvatore and Alec Sanchez before being O’Sullivan, sensing the game could get out of hand, replaced him with Nolan Crisp. The freshman closer walked the first batter he faced and then J.C. Flowers launched a grand slam off of the scoreboard in right field.
The game was, it seemed, now out of hand.
“It was kind of quiet (in the dugout) for a while,” Wil Dalton said of the reaction after the grand slam that made the game 6-0. “Then we said let’s just have good at bats and I wouldn’t say we thought the game was over, that’s never been a thing for us.”
The game was far from over and about to play out like so many Martin and FSU fans have seen in recent years when they play the Gators.
Jacob Young started things off reaching base on a throwing error — one of three Florida State would make on the night. Brady McConnell reached on a fielder’s choice and Nelson Maldonado walked to load the bases.
Then the flood gates opened. A single, a walk, a pair of wild pitches, another walk, a single and all of a sudden the score was 6-5 and Florida had life.
Florida State would add a run in the top of the sixth but Florida and an encore prepared for their five-run fifth.
McConnell and Maldonado were both hit by pitches to start the inning and Kendrick Calilao (4-6 on the night) drove McConnell in with a single to make it a one-run game again. Wil Dalton hit an infield single to even the score but Florida wasn’t done. The Gators scored eight runs on six hits, aided by a FSU error to bust the game wide open.
“The fifth and sixth inning I told the (FSU) first baseman, ‘that fifth and sixth inning for whoever we play is always a killer,” Dalton said. “The grand slam was kind of a buzz kill but we definitely, we weren’t down and out or tucking the tail. We just fight back and finish it out.”
Dalton isn’t wrong. Florida has scored 60 runs in the 5th and 6th innings combined this season with a whopping 34 coming in the 5th this season.
The Gators added another seven runs in the eighth inning capped off by Kendrick Calilao’s second career grand slam. The 20 runs are the most any Kevin O’Sullivan team has scored against Florida State. The Noles were 13-1 heading into the game and ranked in the top-10. It’s also a school record for Florida, which won its ninth consecutive game against their instate rival.