Tuesday May 3, 2005No. 15 FSU Takes Season Series With 9-4 Win Over Baseball
Before a crowd of 5,483 on Tuesday night, the fourth-highest total in McKethan Stadium history, No. 15 Florida State defeated No. 4 Florida by a 9-4 margin to win the regular-season series between the Sunshine State rivals. After the Gators (31-13) collected a 9-2 triumph in Tallahassee on March 30, the Seminoles (38-14) countered with a 4-2 decision on April 19 and earned their first victory in Gainesville since March 1, 2002 this evening.
"Although this was a tough loss, I have to give Florida State a lot of credit," said UF head coach Pat McMahon. "They made outstanding defensive plays and they are a talented ballclub. Our team understands the commitment to get better on a game-by-game basis."
Sophomore Shane Robinson was a perfect 3-for-3 and scored a pair of runs, while sophomore Ryne Malone collected three RBI for FSU, which held a 12-11 advantage in hits. Junior Mark Sauls (5-1) scattered five hits and three runs over 5.1 innings to pick up the victory, while Gator freshman Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) suffered his first defeat to fall to 5-1.
The Seminoles jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a two-out single up the middle by senior Aaron Cheesman that scored Robinson. Robinson had opened the game with a walk from Locke and took second on a ground ball by senior Gibbs Chapman. Cheesman punched a 3-1 base-hit to open the scoring and mark the fifth-straight game Florida’s opponent had broken the ice first.
FSU tacked on another run in the second on a RBI double down the right-field line by freshman Jack Rye. Sophomore Brant Peacher had drawn a one-out walk and scored all the way from first base to give the visitors a 2-0 advantage. However, Rye was gunned down trying to stretch his hit into a triple on a relay from sophomore right fielder Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) to second baseman Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) to freshman third baseman Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.).
The Gators tied the score in the bottom of the inning on two runs and two hits. Sophomore Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) led off with a single to left but was erased on Leclerc’s fielder’s choice. Leclerc moved to second on a passed ball and scored on McArthur’s first career triple into the corner in right. Sophomore Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) followed with a ground ball that scored his teammate with the equalizer.
Robinson sliced a base-hit to open the third before Locke caught Malone looking on a strikes. UF was able to turn an inning-ending double play on a ball struck by Chapman when junior shortstop Justin Tordi (Orlando, Fla.) beat Robinson to the bag and threw over to LaPorta at first.
Florida State moved back in front in the fourth on a two-out, two-run homer to left center by Peacher. Freshman Ryne Jernigan stroked a single into shallow left and Peacher cranked a 3-0 pitch from Locke over the wall for his second round-tripper of the season.
The Gators narrowed the gap to 4-3 in the home portion of the frame on a two-out single by Jeroloman. LaPorta earned a free pass from Sauls with one down and advanced on a wild pitch. A grounder by Leclerc put LaPorta on third and McArhur walked to give UF runners on the corners. Jeroloman found a seam in the right side to pull Florida within a run before the right-hander had Tordi fly out to keep the ‘Noles in front.
Robinson greeted freshman reliever Tommy Wynn (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) with a single to start the fifth and stole his 38th base of the season with one out. Locke allowed five hits and four runs, with five strikeouts and a season-high three walks over four innings. A grounder by Chapman moved his teammate to third before Tordi fired a bullet from the hole to nail Cheesman.
LaPorta rifled a single with one down in the sixth, ending Saul’s time on the hill. Junior Matt DiBlasi came out of the bullpen and retired Leclerc (strikeout) and McArthur (groundout).
FSU extended its lead to 5-3 in the seventh on a RBI fielder’s choice by Malone off sophomore reliever Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.). Freshman Tony Thomas, Jr., walked to open the inning against Wynn (2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R) and stole second to move into scoring position. A sacrifice by Robinson pushed Thomas to third and prompted a Gator pitching change. After Malone brought across Thomas with the ground ball, Porter induced a flyout by Chapman before yielding to junior Darren O’Day (Jacksonville, Fla.). Jeroloman caught Malone stealing to end the stanza, marking the 27th runner he had thrown out this season.
Senior Danny Wardell connected on a solo shot in the eighth off O’Day to provide the Garnet and Gold with a three-run cushion. Wardell’s seventh homer of the season and fourth in the past six games, was the second four-bagger surrendered by the righty this season – both against Florida State.
Florida banged out five hits in the eighth but scored just one run. Dickey and Davis poked consecutive one-out singles to end DiBlasi’s tenure. With slugger LaPorta at the plate to face senior Kevin Lynch, Dickey was picked off second base. Soon after, LaPorta delivered a base-hit to move Davis to third. FSU decided to replace Lynch with sophomore Tyler Chambliss and the right-hander surrendered a RBI single to left by Leclerc to close the gap to 6-4. McArthur legged out an infield hit to load the bases before Chambliss struck out Jeroloman on a 3-2 pitch to end the frame and collect his 12th save.
FSU added insurance in the ninth on a two-run double by Malone and a RBI single by Chapman to finalize the margin at 9-4. Thomas was hit by a pitch with one down and raced over to third on a flare into left by Robinson, who alertly ran to second on the relay. Robinson’s third hit of the game was his 15th three-hit effort of the year. Malone stepped to the plate and deposited his 17th double of the campaign inside the right-field line to end the night for O’Day (1.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R). Senior Mike Pete (Brandon, Fla.) allowed a base-hit into left by Chapman and was replaced by senior Connor Falkenbach (Parkland, Fla.). Making his school-record 105th career appearance, Falkenbach worked the final two-thirds and gave up one hit. LaPorta led the Gators with a 3-for-3 outing, raising his average to .339.
Florida returns to Southeastern Conference play on Friday night when it travels to Fayetteville for a three-game series at defending league champion No. 19 Arkansas (33-13/9-12 SEC). The Razorbacks and Gators will meet in game one at 8 p.m. live on Sun Sports.