Wednesday, March 29, 2017

UF Baseball: No. 9 Florida Wins Season Series Over No. 10 Florida State

The No. 9 Florida Gators (17-9) won the season series over the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles (18-8) with a 4-1 victory in this past Tuesday's contest at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

Making his first career collegiate start, true freshman Garrett Milchin (1-1, 1.54 ERA) was tasked with shutting down the Seminole lineup. Nerves did not get the best of the youngster, as Milchin went 4.1 innings and allowed no runs on just two hits. He had one strikeout while issuing a career-high three walks.

When Milchin exited with one out in the fifth inning and a runner on first base, the Gators had a comfortable 4-0 lead. Coming on in relief was another true freshman in Nate Brown. He had stymied the Seminoles in Gainesville as that game's starter and was called upon to do it again.

He walked the first batter he faced, but then settled down and induced an inning-ending double play to end the FSU threat. In the sixth inning, he generated a groundout for the first out before giving up a double. After falling behind the next batter 2-1, Brown would allow a single that plated FSU's first run against Florida in 36 innings.

That was all Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan needed to see before making a pitching change. He was not about to let Florida blow another four-run lead in back-to-back games. He went to the bullpen and went with sophomore right-hander Michael Byrne to finish this one out.

After a rough outing in the series finale against LSU, Byrne was utterly dominant against FSU. He used two fly outs to end the sixth and ended the game allowing only one hit in 3.2 innings of relief. Byrne struck out four Seminoles and at one point retired nine consecutive batters before allowing a single with one out in the ninth inning.

This late hit would spark no late-game rally as Byrne used a groundout and a strikeout to secure the series win and notch his second save of the 2017 campaign. In the process, Garrett Milchin earned his first career collegiate victory.

Florida had just just six hits as a team and scored all four of their runs in the first inning. Here's how the Gators dropped a four-spot on the 'Noles.

Deacon Liput led the game off with a walk. Dalton Guthrie then got his first hit in a week as he singled into right field to make it runners on first and second. JJ Schwarz then continued his trend of killing FSU pitching as he singled into left field to score Liput for an early 1-0 lead.

After a Jonathan India strikeout and a Nelson Maldonado fly out, Mike Rivera made sure Florida did not waste this early scoring opportunity as he smacked a 2-2 pitch over the left field fence to make it 4-0 Florida. It was Rivera's first home run of the year and gave Garrett Milchin a solid lead to work with going into the bottom half of the frame.

Rivera's long ball was one of two Gator extra base hits as Christian Hicks doubled in the sixth inning. Hicks also singled in the game's opening frame to make him the only Gator with multiple hits on the day. He finished 2-4 and stole his third bag of the year in the first inning as well.

Final Takeaway
The No. 9 Florida Gators continue to show their dominance over Florida State with yet another win on the baseball diamond. Before previewing the weekend ahead, here are my final tidbits on yet another series win over the 'Noles:

  • This is Florida's fourth straight win over the Seminoles. Looking at strictly the regular season matchups, the Gators have won five straight games over Florida State.
  • Florida has won the Florida State series for the second year in a row!
  • This is the sixth time in Kevin O'Sullivan's 10-year tenure that the Gators have won the Florida State series.
  • Florida drew three walks as a team in this game. The benefactors were Deacon Liput (as stated earlier), JJ Schwarz, and Nelson Maldonaldo.
  • Nick Horvath had a rough game out of the nine-hole as he went 0-4 with three strikeouts.
  • Christian Hicks's double was his second of the season.
  • Florida played a clean game as they were error-free for the first time since the series opener against LSU last Friday.
  • For the second straight time, redshirt sophomore right-hander Andrew Karp (0-2, 4.10 ERA) was on the losing end of the midweek game against the Gators.
  • Jacksonville proved to be a good baseball venue as 8,924 fans showed out for the second edition of this season's Sunshine Showdown.

Looking Ahead
With another Top-10 win under their belt, the No. 9 Florida Gators (17-9, 2-4 SEC) will travel to Columbia for their weekend series against the No. 23 Missouri Tigers (21-3, 4-2 SEC).

Florida win go with the usual suspects as their probable starters with junior right-hander Alex Faedo (4-1, 2.39 ERA) on Friday night, sophomore right-hander Brady Singer (3-1, 1.58 ERA) on Saturday afternoon, and sophomore right-hander Jackson Kowar (3-0, 2.48 ERA) on Sunday afternoon

Missouri will go with sophomore left-hander Michael Plassmeyer (4-0, 2.73 ERA), junior right-hander junior Tanner Houck (3-2, 2.80 ERA), and redshirt junior right-hander Cole Bartlett (3-0, 2.87 ERA) as their starters for the weekend.

The games are schedule for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. They all can be seen on the SEC Network+ and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.

As for No. 10 Florida State (18-8, 6-3 ACC), they will yet again return to Tallahassee with the familiar feeling of a loss to Florida. While waiting for that pain to subside, the Seminoles will prepare to host the No. 7 North Carolina Tarheels (19-6, 6-3 ACC) in a compelling Top-10 matchup this weekend at Dick Howser Stadium.

*All stats accredited to



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