The win was a much needed outing for this Gator team that lost a series for the first time all season last weekend going 1-2 against unranked Kentucky. With the win, the Gators take the series with Florida State after beating the Seminoles earlier in the month in Gainesville. They finish off the series next month in Tallahassee.
Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who moved to 17-15 against the Noles in his career, was very happy about the way his team fought in post-game interviews.
“First of all, the crowd was great for both schools,” O’Sullivan said. “It was packed and it is a really good venue to play in. I can’t begin to explain how proud of our team I am to bounce back from a tough weekend. It’s been a tough couple of days for us and I’m proud to coach this team with the way they responded tonight. I thought the focus was as good as it has been all year long.
Florida State got on the board in the top of the first with a two out, first pitch home run over the right field wall by catcher Cal Raleigh. Kowar (3-0) would finish the inning striking out Dylan Busby.
After giving up a two-out double by Jeremy Lueck, Kowar nets a pop fly out to end the inning.
The Gators would answer with two runs in the bottom of the second. Pete Alonso would strike out to lead the inning before freshman Deacon Liput singled to center field. Mike Rivera (1-for-3, 2 RBI) would then take an 0-1 pitch and plant it beyond the left field wall to give the Gators a 2-1 lead and the only scores of the stanza. It is Rivera’s sixth home run of the season. He had three all of last year.
FSU would threaten in the 3rd with a one out double by Taylor Walls. Walls would then steal third before Kowar would strike out third baseman John Sansone. He then would plunk Raleigh before striking out Dylan Busby.
With the Noles failing to score, the Gators did add another and final run to their tally in the bottom of the third. Jonathan India would lead off the inning with a walk. Leadoff hitter Dalton Guthrie flied out to short for the first out. India then steals second beating the throw from FSU catcher Raleigh. Center fielder Buddy Reed (2-for-4, 1 RBI) would blister the ball down the right field line for a triple, scoring India in the process. Catcher J.J. Schwarz would strike out, Pete Alonso would walk, and then Deacon Liput would strike out to strand Reed. It was the third triple on the season for Reed.
Kowar would go 5 innings and giving up just one earned run and scattering five hits while walking one and striking out four. He would give way to freshman Brady Singer (3.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 SO, 0 BB) after walking the first batter of the sixth inning. Singer would go three full innings allowing no earned runs, but an error and a passed ball allowed a run in the eighth.
In the eighth, Liput would field a hard shot at second and knock it down, but fail to get Sansone at first. Sansone would advance to second on a passed ball strike by Schwarz. Singer working quickly would strike out Dylan Busby, and get a first strike on Quincy Neiporte before FSU skipper mike martin calls a time out to slow down the crafty freshman pitcher. Neiporte would then step to the plate and hit a blooper to center field to score Nick Graganella who was inserted to pinch run for Sansone. Singer would then make a play on the ball and pitch it to Guthrie who threw out Ben Deluzio on a hard chopper back to the mound. That would end the inning and set it up for closer Shaun Anderson.
Anderson would close out the ninth striking out two batters and facing the minimum three for the save.
“It was a clean, crisp game and I don’t think we gave away many at bats,” O’Sullivan said. “I just love the fact that we were able to rebound from the weekend and play with a tremendous amount of grit and focus to win an important mid-week game.”
The Gators improved to 6-1 in games decided by one run this season. Freshman Deacon Liput has reached base in 26 of the 27 games the Gators have played this season. Kowar, Singer, and Anderson totaled nine strikeouts and just one walk on the night.
“The ability to make pitch after pitch and we ran two freshmen (Jackson Kowar and Brady Singer) out there for the first eight innings of the ballgame,” O’Sullivan said. “I thought Jackson grew up a lot tonight and I thought Brady bounced back from a tough game on Sunday and threw the ball really, really well. It was great to get Shaun (Anderson) back out there to close the ninth inning out.
Florida lost its designation as the number one team in the country this past weekend with the two losses at Kentucky. The Gators can do something about it this next weekend as they host newly minted number one Texas A&M for a three game series starting Friday at 7 p.m.