Gators knock off No. 1 Florida State

The top-ranked Seminoles loaded the bases in the third inning with no outs, poised to break a scoreless game open. After a foul out and strikeout gave the Gators a chance to escape with no damage, third baseman Josh Tobias made a highlight play behind the base and added to the momentum by starting the bottom half of the inning with a home run, pushing Florida to a 3-1 win over the Florida State.

It wouldn't have happened without the play Tobias made. With the bases loaded and two outs in the third inning, Florida State first baseman John Nogowski grounded a ball up the third base line and barely over the base to keep it fair. Tobias had to backhand the ball to field it and started to dart for third base. He quickly realized he wouldn't beat FSU right fielder Josh Delph to the bag, so he planted his feet and delivered a strike to first base for the final out.

"I was going to try to tag the base, but I kind of slipped. I knew Nogowski wasn't very fast, so I got a chance to throw him out. And I did."

FSU had loaded the bases for its third, fourth and fifth hitters to come to the plate. Star sophomore D.J. Stewart popped out and cleanup hitter Brett Knief struck out to start the inning before Nogowski's ground ball.

The Florida dugout erupted. The team dodged a bullet and pulled momentum back into the home dugout.

"That was a huge momentum swing for us," Kevin O'Sullivan said.

And the momentum didn't disappear. Tobias led off the bottom half of the inning by lining the first pitch he saw into the back row of the left field bleachers to put the Gators on the board and give them a lead. It was Tobias' first home run of the season after he was one of the top hitters in offseason scrimmages.

"I knew it was going to come eventually," Tobias said. "I was just trying to work on putting good swings on the ball and eventually it would come over. Then it happened."

After FSU tied the game with a solo home run from Jose Brizuela in the top of the sixth inning, the Florida offense responded in the bottom half.

Richie Martin started the sixth inning with a double placed perfectly inside the right field line. After Casey Turgeon bunted him to third base, FSU brought in left-hander Bryant Holtmann to face Florida's right-handed center fielder Harrison Bader.

The unconventional move didn't pay off. Bader lined a triple off the right-field fence to score Martin and give Florida a 2-1 lead. Taylor Gushue hit the next pitch to the right field warning track, where it was caught for a sacrifice fly that pushed the Florida lead to 3-1.

"It's obviously a big situation," Bader said. "(O'Sullivan) told me to see the ball up and I was lucky to get one."

The Florida pitching staff held up its end of the bargain after that. The Gators retired the last nine and 11 of the last 12 FSU hitters. Danny Young started the game and allowed six hits while walking one in three innings of work. Aaron Rhodes allowed three hits and one run over the middle three innings. Bobby Poyner earned his first career save after a perfect three innings of work.

"Can't say enough about our pitchers against a really, really good lineup," O'Sullivan said. "They grind out at-bats, don't chase out of the zone and you have to continually make pitches. You've got to stay on top of your game. Credit our guys for hanging in there and making pitches."

The Gators now hit the road for their first road series in SEC, heading to Texas A&M on Friday night at 7:35 p.m.


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