Wednesday, April 12, 2017

No. 10 Florida Sweeps No. 25 Florida State

For the second consecutive season, the No. 10 Florida Gators (22-11) have swept the regular season series over the rival No. 25 Florida State Seminoles (21-14) with a 10-7 victory in Tallahassee.

Making his first career collegiate start in this game was true freshman Tyler Dyson (1-0, 4.40 ERA). It was his second time facing the 'Noles, who quickly figured him out this go around. Dyson threw just 1.2 innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits while walking and hitting one batter.

When Dyson left the game in the second inning, Florida led 4-2 despite having trailed 2-0 just an inning prior. In his place came fellow true freshman Kirby McMullen. The Ocala product had one of his more rougher outings as he gave up two runs on four FSU hits.

After McMullen gave up two straight hits to lead off the bottom of the fourth, he was pulled for senior Frank Rubio with Florida leading 10-6. Rubio would face just two batters as he allowed an RBI single and issued a four-pitch walk.

Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan had seen enough. He pulled Rubio and called on junior left-hander Nick Horvath to give him some innings out of the pen. He had quite a task ahead of him as FSU had the bases loaded down 10-5 with nobody out.

Horvath was unfazed though. He honed in and struck out the side to strand all three Seminole baserunners. Of those three strikeouts, just one came on a full count.

Horvath dug deep and gave Florida three strong innings of one-hit relief. His only strikeouts came in the fourth and his two walks in the seventh is what led to his departure. With runners on first and second with just one out, Horvath's stint came to an end with Florida still up 10-6. It was now true freshman left-hander Austin Langworthy's turn to take the stage.

With FSU sophomore catcher Cal Raleigh up to bat, Langworthy got him to ground into an inning-ending double play on a full count. Another potential FSU rally had been snuffed out. After working a perfect eighth, Langworthy was given the honor of closing this one out against FSU.

The ninth got interesting, as Langworthy allowed back-to-back singles after getting the first out of the inning via a foul pop out. A groundout would move the runners to second and third, but put Florida one out away from the sweep. FSU's senior clean-up hitter Quincy Nieporte blasted a double (his only hit of the game) to cut the Florida lead to 10-7, but Langworthy would induce a fly out from Cal Raleigh to end this one.

It was all over. Florida had won their sixth consecutive regular season game over the Seminoles and fifth straight game overall. Horvath was the winning pitcher, and was credited with his first win of the 2017 campaign. It was just the third career victory at Florida.

Florida again answered the bell against FSU as they banged out 10 hits to go with their 10 runs. The Gators scored in bunches as they put up four runs in the second inning and six runs in the fourth. Before even highlighting the noteworthy offensive performances for Florida, let me talk about these two big innings for the Gators:

Second Inning
Out of the clean-up spot, Mike Rivera led off the inning getting hit by a pitch. Nelson Maldonaldo flew out for the first out of the inning, then Rivera advanced to second on a past ball. Back in the lineup for the first time since Friday, Jonathan India drew a walk. Right behind him, Austin Langworthy drew a walk to load the bases.

Unlike previous games, the Gators capitalized with the bases loaded as Ryan Larson hit an RBI single into left field to make it 2-1 Florida State. Christian Hicks then singled and the Gators used an errant throw from the right fielder to take a 3-2 lead.

Deacon Liput came up and plated a run on a ground out to second base. Dalton Guthrie then drew a walk and stole second before JJ Schwarz flew out to center field with runners on second and third.

Fourth Inning
When the fourth rolled around, the game was knotted up at 4-4. That was about to change though. Austin Langworthy led off with a single up the middle. Ryan Larson then doubled for his second hit of the game to make it runners on second and third.

Christian Hicks then again copied Larson as he smoked a double to score both runs and give Florida a 6-4 lead. He then advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Deacon Liput sacrifice fly. It was now 7-4 Gators.

Dalton Guthrie flew out for the second out of the inning, but the Gators would rally. JJ Schwarz doubled and Mike Rivera and Nelson Maldonaldo drew back-to-back walks. With the bases loaded for the second time in the game, Florida again capitalized as Jonathan India roped a bases-clearing double to center field. Austin Langworthy would ground out to end the inning, but it was now 10-4 Florida.

Offensive Performers
Three Gators had multiple hits against the 'Noles tonight. Funny enough, it was the bottom three of the batting order who were the perpetrators. Hitting for the first time since March 11th against Seton Hall, Austin Langworthy played a big role in the seven-hole. He went 2-4 with two runs scored and a walk.

In the eight-hole, Ryan Larson had his hot bat from this past weekend carry over. The senior left fielder went 2-5 with a double, two runs scored, and an RBI.

In the nine-hole, junior third baseman Christian Hicks went 3-5 with a double, one run scored, and a game-high four RBI's.

The remaining Gator batters with one hit were leadoff man Deacon Liput (1-4 with two RBI's, a walk, and a stolen base), JJ Schwarz (1-6 with a double and a run scored), and Jonathan India (1-2 with a double, a run scored, three RBI's, and two walks).

Final Takeaway
Out of all the schools in the state of Florida, Florida State seems to be an opponent that the Gators consistently prepare for in midweek competition. After Stetson blew them out of the water at home last week (though it did not count), Florida showed their fans that it might be worthwhile to keep the faith after this win.

Sweeping Florida State is no easy task. To do it two years in a row speaks volumes about the talent that Florida has developed and attracted these past two seasons. In addition, this series sweep proves that Florida does indeed play either up or down to the level of their opponent.

The aura and tradition of the Florida/Florida State rivalry will get a player more amped for the game than a normal midweek contest against a Jacksonville or Stetson. When state pride is on the line, the Gators will answer the call.

Before briefly previewing the weekend ahead, here are my final tidbits on yet another season sweep over the Florida State Seminoles:

  • This is the fourth time in Kevin O'Sullivan's ten-year tenure that the Gators have swept the Seminoles in the season series.
  • Florida is now 6-4 against Florida State in Tallahassee.
  • Christian Hicks's three hits and four RBI's tonight are both new career-highs!
  • Jonathan India's double was his team-leading eighth of the year, JJ Schwarz's was his sixth, Ryan Larson's was his third, and Christian Hicks's was his third as well.
  • Deacon Liput still leads the team in stolen bases after swiping his 10th bag in the top of the seventh inning.
  • Speaking of Deac, his sac fly was his first of the year.
  • This is the first time in Dalton Guthrie's career that he has stolen multiple bases in a game. It puts him at eight on the season which ties his career-best from the previous year.
  • Though his hitting streak ended at 11 games tonight, Nelson Maldonaldo did swipe his second bag of the season.
  • Dalton Guthrie and Kirby McMullen were responsible for the two Gator errors in the same inning of this game. Dalt made a poor throw to first base with two outs in the bottom of the second, while McMullen failed to field a ball that allowed FSU to score and cut the lead to 4-3.
  • Despite the two errors, Florida still trailed FSU in that department as the 'Noles made three errors on the night.
  • Although he did not receive the loss this time, Andrew Karp (0-2, 5.35 ERA) did start against the Gators for the third straight time this season.
  • As a team, Florida drew eight walks. Jonathan India and Nelly both accounted for two free passes each.
  • FSU used a total of seven pitchers against the Gators.
  • Nearly 6,000 fans showed out for this game (5,944 was the total).

Looking Ahead
With another FSU sweep in the books, the No. 10 Florida Gators (22-11, 6-6 SEC) will head to Nashville to do battle with the Vanderbilt Commodores (21-13, 6-6 SEC) in a three-game set.

First pitch for each game is set for 9 p.m. on Thursday, 7:30 p.m. on Friday, and 3 p.m. on Saturday. Florida's probable starters will be junior right-hander Alex Faedo (5-1, 2.82 ERA) on Thursday, sophomore right-hander Brady Singer (4-1, 1.60 ERA) on Friday, and sophomore right-hander Jackson Kowar (5-0, 2.72 ERA) on Saturday.

Vandy will most likely go with a combination of junior right-hander Kyle Wright (1-4, 4.81 ERA), sophomore right-hander Patrick Raby (5-3, 2.49 ERA), and true freshman right-hander Drake Fellows (3-1, 2.79 ERA).

The series opener can be seen on ESPNU, Game 2 can be seen on the SEC Network+, and Game 3 can be seen on ESPN2. All three games can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network. This is a big SEC matchup and could be a make or break series for the Gators in the SEC East race!

As for Florida State (21-14, 7-8 ACC), they will again have to play another tough weekend series following the familiar feeling of losing to Florida. This time they play host to the No. 4 Clemson Tigers (29-5, 13-2 ACC), who defeated the Seminoles for the ACC Championship in their last meeting back in May.

*All stats accredited to



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