Gators Try to Clinch Series With FSU

Florida did what it usually does against Florida State in the first game of the year—the Gators won in Gainesville. That has happened all five years under Kevin O'Sullivan. When the matchup comes outside of Gainesville, the Gators have struggled. No. 4 Florida State is 11-1 against Florida away from Gainesville in the last five years. No. 1 Florida gets an opportunity to change that on Tuesday.

The series between the two rivals has started out the same for Florida in every year under Kevin O'Sullivan. Florida is used to winning in Gainesville.

In the four years of the game in Jacksonville since O'Sullivan took over at Florida, the Seminoles have outscored the Gators 25-8. Florida (22-2) has scored two runs in each of those four games. The Gators have to find a way to take their play against the Seminoles (21-3) in Gainesville on the road, and they'll have a chance to do that on Tuesday (7 p.m/TV: Sun Sports).

"It's just about executing the small things and they turn into big things—big innings," Florida shortstop Nolan Fontana said about carrying the effort on the road after the Gators won the first matchup of the season. "As long as we do that as a team, we'll be alright."

Florida's last win in Jacksonville was a 16-7 outcome on April 3, 2007.

The Gators will go outside the box for their starting pitcher on Tuesday. Florida will send senior right-hander Greg Larson (3-0, 1.00) to the mound against the Seminoles. It will be the fourth start of his career and his 12th career appearance out of the bullpen. He threw just two pitches over the weekend at South Carolina and recorded a ground out against the only batter he faced.

In his career against Florida State, Larson is 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA. In 19 innings of work, Larson has allowed 18 hits, six runs (five earned), seven walks and struck out ten hitters. Opponents are 0-27 against the senior with runners on base this season.

Starting Larson also allows the Gators to have a better chance at keeping the Florida State offense down before the young pitchers, like Bobby Poyner and John Magliozzi, come out of the bullpen.

The Seminoles will start Scott Sitz (1-1, 2.76). The junior right-hander has allowed 17 hits and eight runs (five earned) in 16.1 innings this year. Sitz has walked seven hitters and struck out ten.

The first win against Florida State on March 13 was a step in the right direction for Florida winning the series against the Seminoles for the first time since 2009. During that season, the Gators clinched the series with a win in Tallahassee after Larson started on the mound and gave Florida 4.1 shutout innings.

The importance of this rivalry can be downplayed because it is played in midweek games, but it still means a lot to the players.

"It's always good to beat FSU, our instate rivals," Florida left-hander Steven Rodriguez said after the Gators beat Florida State two weeks ago. "It's us versus them. We're on top right now, so it's basically that we've got to go out there and show them we're the best."


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