Gator Offensive Woes Continue vs. FSU

JACKSONVILLE — The offensive frustration for No. 4 Florida only continued on Tuesday night. After scoring seven runs in three games over the weekend, it was more of the same for the Gators. Florida (21-5/4-2 SEC) couldn't hold onto an early lead and only put one hit on the board after the first inning, falling to No. 9 Florida State 5-2 in front of 10,078 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

"It's obvious we're not swinging the bat as well as we can right now," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We've got good players, and they're going to swing the bat again. Every team goes through this. It's very important for us to keep their minds right and keep them as positive as possible."

Florida has recorded just three hits in two of the last three games, also putting three hits on the board in a 2-1 win over South Carolina on Saturday.

The loss also means the Gators have lost six of the last eight matchups with Florida State. Florida has also lost seven straight neutral site games with the Seminoles. Florida State also took a 2-1 advantage in the season series on Tuesday.

With the way South Carolina's pitching staff shut down the Florida offense over the weekend, O'Sullivan put a new lineup on the field that featured the 3-5 hitters from the weekend being moved to the 5-7 spots in the order.

Some players, catcher Mike Zunino and left fielder Daniel Pigott, have stayed hot, but the Florida lineup as a whole is pressing.

"Hitting is contagious, whether you're swing the bat well or if you're not," Florida catcher Mike Zunino said. "Right now, we're not swinging the bats too well, and it's contagious right now."

The game plan for the Florida State pitchers in the three games this season has been similar, even dating back to some of the matchups last season. The Seminoles pitching staff throws more off-speed pitches than any team the Gators have faced this year, and Tuesday night was no different. The Florida hitters knew that coming into the game, but they couldn't adjust.

"They were just spinning the ball, and we weren't seeing it. We couldn't lay off their sliders and breaking balls. When they fall in trouble, they go to a breaking ball. We know that."

The Gators took an early lead with a first inning run. The inning looked hopeless after the first two hitters were set down, but Daniel Pigott's two-out single to left brought the red hot Mike Zunino to the plate. The Florida catcher extended his hitting streak to a career high 14 games with a double down the left field line, scoring Pigott to give Florida an early advantage.

Florida tacked on to its lead in the third inning. The Gators loaded the bases without the benefit of a hit, after a walk, an error and a hit by pitch. Zunino drove in his second run of the game on a sacrifice fly to left to push the Gators lead to 2-0 in the third inning.

"We got off to a decent start with those runs early," O'Sullivan said.

Florida State putting together a big inning has haunted Florida in the teams' earlier matchups, and while it wasn't a huge inning, the two-run fourth inning brought the momentum back to the Seminoles' dugout.

Anthony DeSclafani allowed a single and double to start the fourth inning before he was lifted for Stephen Rodriguez. The left-hander's first pitch was driven off the right-center field fence by James Ramsey for a two-out run double to tie the game after four innings.

Rodriguez (1-1) settled down and went three innings, allowing two hits and one unearned run, as both runs from the Ramsey double were charged to DeSclafani.

DeSclafani went three innings, allowing two hits and two runs. He threw 35 of his 47 pitches for strikes.

"The bottom line is, we can assess the pitching all we want, but we've just got to do a better job offensively," O'Sullivan said. "It's as simple as that."

Stuart Tapley hit a two-run home run to right field in the eighth inning of Nick Maronde to give the Seminoles a 5-2 cushion they wouldn't give up. That dampened the hopes of a comeback, as the Gators would strand Brian Johnson on first after a walk to lead off the ninth inning.

Florida returns home to McKethan Stadium this weekend to host Tennessee. First pitch Friday night is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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