Wednesday, March 19, 2014

UF Baseball: Gators Upset #1 FSU

The glorious thing about the game of baseball is that any team can be beaten on any given day. Today was the Florida Gators' day as they stunned the #1 team in the country- who just happened to be arch rival Florida State- with a 3-1 victory at McKethan Stadium in front of 5,657 fans. I myself was jubilant to see the Gators add themselves as the third team to defeat FSU this season (the other two being Miami and Maryland) and snap FSU's six game winning streak.

Sophomore Danny Young got the start on the mound tonight and went three innings without giving up any runs.The highlight of Young's stint on the mound was when he pitched out of a bases loaded, no outs jam in the third inning to keep the game tied at zero. Young's start surprised me as I thought he was primarily a reliever. However, when I saw junior Bobby Poyner enter the game as a reliever in the seventh inning, it became obvious to me that he and Young had simply swapped roles. Sophomore Aaron Rhodes relieved Young to pitch the middle innings of the game. Picking up his second win of the year, Rhodes struck out four Seminoles and gave up just one run off an FSU homer in the sixth inning. Once Poyner came in with a 3-1 lead, it was lights out as he retired nine straight Seminoles to earn his first save of the year and give Florida a huge win. If using three pitchers for three innings was Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan's strategy, it worked to perfection tonight.

The Gators jumped on the board first as junior Josh Tobias hit a lead off solo home run in the bottom of the third inning. This was Tobias's first home run of the year and might be a sign that his early season slump is over. After FSU countered with a solo home run of their own in the sixth inning, the Gators went back to work as sophomore Richie Martin hit a leadoff double. After Martin reached third on a sacrifice bunt, the stage was sent for sophomore Harrison Bader. Coming off of a 19 game suspension and playing in just his second game of the season, Bader smoked a triple to right center field to put the Gators back on top 2-1. Bader would score on Taylor Gushue's sacrifice fly to push the Gator lead to 3-1. After watching what Bader did tonight, I'm excited to have him back in the lineup and can see him doing big things for the Gators offensively going forward.

The Gators (14-7) will look to ride the momentum from this win into their SEC weekend series against #26 Texas A&M (14-7) in College Station. #1 FSU, suffering its first road and non-conference loss to the unranked Gators, will try to bounce back from this demoralizing loss as they hit the road to play ACC rival #17 Clemson (12-7) in a weekend series. The Gators and Seminoles will meet up again on March 25th in Jacksonville for one game. The Gators should prepare for a dogfight from FSU and I expect it to be a great game!

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