No. 7 Florida State (27-6) could not withstand a late charge by Florida (16-18) in falling to the Gators 4-3 Tuesday evening in front of 6,719, the fifth largest crowd in school history, on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
Florida erased a one-run deficit scoring once in the seventh to tie the game at 3-3 and then took the lead with a run in the ninth for the winning margin. The final two runs for the Gators were the result of three fielding miscues by the Seminoles.
"I am obviously very disappointed," said head coach Mike Martin. "We did not deserve to win. They played better; they didn't walk as many as we did. They didn't make four errors as we did and when you do that, you are going to get beat by a good baseball team."
UF tied the game in the seventh with Harrison Bader laced a one-out single to right off Gage Smith. After a pitching change brought on Billy Strode, Bader stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Stephen McGee on the steal attempt. The Gator third baseman scored the tying run on a passed ball.
In the ninth, Florida regained the lead for good when Bader led off the inning reaching on a two-base throwing error by Jose Brizuela at third. He then moved to third on a throwing error by Robby Coles on a failed pick-off attempt and scored a batter later on Josh Tobias' sac-fly to right.
"I hope that we learned for it," said Martin on falling to the Gators Tuesday night. "I hope that we learned that we can't play this way and expect to accomplish our goal."
Daniel Gibson (1-0) retired the Seminoles in order in the bottom of the ninth to preserve the win and pick-up his first victory of the season. The junior southpaw worked 2.0 shutout innings as he walked one and struck out one.
Coles would suffer the loss falling to 2-1 on the year. The junior right hander allowed an unearned run and one walk while not giving up a hit.
D.J. Stewart paced Florida State in the losing cause tying a career-high with three hits as the freshman from Yulee, Fla., finished the game a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. Stewart opened the game with a single in the first, a double in the third and a solo home run in the fifth. Jameis Winston was 2-for-3 with a single, a double and an RBI.
Both starting pitchers on Tuesday night would not factor into the decision. FSU's Peter Miller went 5.0 innings allowing two runs on five hits. He issued two walks and struck out a batter. UF's Bobby Poyner left after 4.0 innings giving up a run on four hits while recording three strikeouts.
"Peter had a good outing," added Martin. "I was very, very pleased with his performance tonight."
Florida State ran out to an early 1-0 lead when Marcus Davis brought home Stewart, who registered a one-out single up the middle off Poyner, on a two-out double off the wall in right center.
After retiring the first seven batters that he faced, the Gators finally got to Miller when Bader and Cody Dent put together back-to-back one-out singles in the third. After a walk to Casey Turgeon loaded the bases, Florida would tie the game at one on a sac-fly to right by Richie Martin.
The Gators took their first lead of the night in the fifth when Dent walked and scored two batters later on a two-out RBI double to right by Martin.
The lead was short-lived as Florida State came right back to tie the game at two in the bottom of the inning when Stewart connected on a solo shot to right off Justin Shafer. The home run, his fourth of the season, came on a 2-2 pitch that just cleared the fence in right.
The Seminoles retook the lead in the sixth when pinch hitter Casey Smit led off the inning with a single to right off Shafer. After two quick outs, the Gators went to the bullpen and brought on Ryan Harris to face Winston. The sophomore right unleashed a wild pitch on his first offering to move Smit to third. Two pitches later, Winston connected on a double off the fence in right center to score Smit. The Seminole designated hitter was thrown out trying to advance to third on the play for the final out of the inning.
Both teams squandered opportunities to break the 3-3 tie in the eighth. The Gators loaded the bases with one out off Winston resulting in Martin calling on Coles out of the bullpen. The junior right hander responded by getting Vickash Ramjit to pop up to second and then Connor Mitchell to groundout to first to retire the side.
The Seminoles put runners at the corners with one on in the bottom of the inning when McGee singled to center off Harris. Smit then drew a walk off Gibson and McGee moved into third on a wild pitch. Gibson escaped the jam as he got Brizuela to ground into an inning ending double play.
Florida State resumes conference play this weekend as the Atlantic Division leading Seminoles host Duke for a three-game series beginning Friday, April 12 at 6:00 p.m. Saturday's game is set for 6:00 p.m. and Sunday at 1:00 p.m.