Florida got four home runs including two, three-run homers by first baseman Matt LaPorta and a grand slam by designated hitter Austin Pride to down Florida State 16-7 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville Tuesday evening. The Gators outscored the Seminoles 12-5 in the first three innings to even up the season series at one game a piece. Buster Posey connected for his first home run of the season in the top of the first and finished the game with two hits, two runs scored and two RBI's to lead Florida State in the loss.
"Patrick (McMahon) has done a great job in getting this club headed in the right direction," explained head coach Mike Martin. "Moving Figueroa (to shortstop) and just making some moves in other spots have been key for them. He has done a tremendous job of getting this club in a position to make a run. Let's put it this way, they are in the middle of their run right now and they are looking good."
Florida State and Florida made history on Tuesday night as the two teams played in front of 12,280 fans, the largest crowd to witness a college baseball game in the start of Florida. The previous state record of 8,277 was set back on February 9, 1986 featuring Texas and Miami, a game played at Mark Light Stadium in Coral Gables, Fla. Tonight's attendance was also the second largest crowd to attend a game at the Baseball Grounds.
"Playing in front of this crowd was a lot of fun," stated Posey. "You could tell this crowd was going to be big at around 4:30 when the fans started packing in, but I had no idea there was going to be 12,000 here tonight."
FSU got on the board quickly in the top of the first thanks to Posey's first home run of the season. Mark Hallberg got things going with a base hit up the middle off Florida starter Clint Franklin. Posey then deposited the first pitch he saw from Franklin over the wall in left for a 2-0 Seminole advantage.
The lead was short lived as first baseman Matt LaPorta blasted a three-run shot to left to give the Gators a one-run advantage. Jon Townsend and Avery Barnes hit back-to-back singles off Florida State starter Caleb Graham (1-2) and came around to score on LaPorta's team leading 14th home run of the season.
Florida put a seven spot on the board in the bottom of the second on two home runs, a three-run shot by LaPorta and a grand slam by Austin Pride. Graham started the second inning in fine fashion retiring the first two batters on a pair of groundouts to Hallberg at short. The Gators then drew back-to-back walks bringing LaPorta to the plate. The senior first baseman took advantage of the short wall in right going opposite field for his second three-run homer of the game. That would be the end of the night for Graham as the sophomore right hander lasted just 1.2 innings. Travis Burge entered and gave up a double to Cole Figueroa, a single to Brian Leclerc and a walk to Chris Petrie to load the bases for designated hitter Austin Pride. Pride took the first pitch he saw from Burge out of the stadium in left for a grand slam and a 10-2 Florida lead.
The Seminoles countered with three runs in the top of the third to cut the deficit to 10-5. The first five Seminoles to step to plate reached safely including runs scored by Hallberg, Posey and Rye. Hallberg led off the inning reaching second on a fielding error by the Gator left fielder. Posey singled to left and Rye followed with an RBI single to left center plating Hallberg from third. Dennis Guinn entered the box and hit an RBI single through the left side scoring Posey. After a Jason Stidham walk, D'Vontrey Richardson hit a sacrifice fly to center plating Rye to cap the Florida State scoring.
Freshman Casey Whitmer entered the game in the third and the Gators sprang for two more runs to increase their lead to 12-5. Whitmer began the inning walking catcher Hampton Tignor and hitting Townsend with a pitch. Barnes followed and hit an RBI double to deep center scoring Tignor. Barnes was tagged out on the play by Brandon Reichert as he tried to advance to third on the play. Figueroa drove in the 12th Gator run of the game on a fielder's choice groundout.
Florida State loaded the bases for the second time in the ball game in the fourth but would leave them full as Florida reliever Kevin Chapman (2-1) got Stidham to groundout to first to end the threat.
Matt Fairel would be the fourth Seminole pitcher to throw on Tuesday night as he pitched the fourth and fifth innings. Fairel threw effectively as he allowed only one run on one hit. He struck out the first batter that the faced in Petrie, but the Gator left fielder would reach on a wild pitch advancing him to second. Matt den Dekker made the score 13-5 on a fielder's choice RBI groundout.
It was just one of those nights for the Seminoles as they committed their first error in seven ball games. In an attempt to get out of the fifth inning on a double play groundout, Hallberg took the throw from Thomas for the out at second and his relay to Reichert at first was in the ground allowing Figueroa to advance to second. It was the first error committed by the Seminoles in 63.2 innings, the longest errorless streak by FSU dating back to the 1996 season.
Jimmy Marshall pitched the sixth and after surrendering a lead off walk to Pride, he retired the next three Gator hitters. He registered his first pick off attempt of the season firing a bullet to Reichert at first to gun down Cody Neer, who reached on a single to center.
Florida State got two more back in the seventh to make the score 13-7. Dennis Guinn led off the inning with a double off the wall in right and moved to third on a fly out to deep center by Stidham. Pinch hitter Tommy Oravetz hit an RBI double to left scoring Guinn from third. Mark Gildea pinch ran for Oravetz at second and would come around to score on an RBI single by Reichert.
Florida would get those two runs back off reliever Brian Chambers in their half of the seventh. Back-to-back walks to start the inning would come back to haunt Chambers as both runs would score on a throwing error by the senior right hander. Figueroa laid down a beautiful bunt single towards third and Chambers threw wildly over to first scoring Barnes and LaPorta.
Danny Rosen pitched the eighth making it seven Seminole pitchers to take the mound on Tuesday. He gave up one run on two hits while striking out two.
"Well, that's baseball," said Posey. "We got off to a good start in the top of the first, but they came back out, put the bat on the ball and made things happen."
Florida State is back on the road this weekend for its second straight ACC road series. The Seminoles will travel to Raleigh, N.C. to face-off against NC State. Friday and Saturday's game are set for 7:00 pm, while Sunday's match-up will start at 1:00 pm. Fans can follow all the action over the Internet. Gametracker will be available for the contest along with live radio broadcast courtesy of 1270 the TEAM.
FSU falls to Florida in Jacksonville
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