Top-ranked Florida State broke open a 1-0 game with a four-run sixth
inning to prevail 6-2 Saturday in front of 5,039 fans at Dick Howser
Stadium. Florida dropped to 6-6 on the season with its third consecutive
loss to the Seminoles, while FSU improved to 12-2 on the season.
The Gators got a strong performance out of starter Jay Belflower, who held
FSU to a single run through the first five innings. But, FSU took
advantage of a Florida error to lead off the sixth, scoring four runs in
the inning. Belflower (1-1) took the loss, allowing five runs (four
earned) on nine hits over 5.1 innings.
FSU’s Jon McDonald earned the win for the Seminoles with 6.2 scoreless
innings, allowing six UF hits with four walks and five strikeouts.
FSU second baseman Marshall McDougall led off the sixth inning with a pop
up to short right field that was dropped by UF right fielder Tim Olson.
FSU then loaded the bases on a single by Ryan Barthelemy and a hit batter,
scoring a run on a sacrifice fly that saw Olson collide with second
baseman Mark Kiger in short right field. Kiger made the catch as one run
scored on the sacrifice fly but had to leave the game with two stitches to
a cut on his head.
Shortstop Brett Groves then doubled to plate a second run and pinch hitter
Pichi Balet singled off releiver Kenny Birch to score two additional runs
as FSU led 5-1.
“We got good pitching from Jay Belflower,” said Lopez. “But, the fourth
inning got away from us. Give credit to Florida State, they took advantage
of our mistakes.”
Florida left runners in scoring position in three of the first four
innings, including a bases loaded situation in the first inning that ended
in a double play.
“McDonald pitched out of a tremendous jam in the first inning and it set
the tone for us offensively,” said Lopez, whose club left 12 runners on
base in the game.
The Gators also stranded Matt Siegel in the second, who had doubled with
one out in the inning, and a UF runner was stranded on third in the fourth
on an inning-ending double play.
Florida continued to get runners on base in the seventh, loading the bases
off McDonald on a single by Kevin Estrada and pair of walks. FSU reliever
Daniel Hodges struck out Aaron Davidson to end the threat.
Florida finally got on the board in the eighth inning when pinch hitter
Ryan Shealy belted a two-run home run to pull UF within 6-2. Florida put
two runners on base in the ninth before Olson flyed out to center field to
end the game.
Jason Dill, Siegel and Olson each had two hits on the day for Florida.
The two teams will play the final game of the series at 2 p.m. Sunday. The
game can be heard locally on WGGG-AM 1230 starting at 1:50 p.m.