Dalton Guthrie (3-for-5, 2 RBI), J.J. Schwarz (3-for-4, 3 RBI, 2 Runs), and Pete Alonso (3-for-5) starred at the plate and in the field in the victory. Freshman pitcher Jackson Kowar delivered seven strikeouts, and gave up one earned run while allowing just three hits and two walks in 4.0 innings. Junior Frank Rubio was credited with the win after his 2.0 innings pitched and allowing one earned run.
Florida outscored FSU 17-4 in the three game series this year.
“It’s one thing to beat Florida State three times in the same year, but I was telling the guys that even though it was frustrating game pitching-wise, we held them to four runs over 27 innings, which is very, very hard to do, especially after they came off a weekend in which they won two of three against a really good Louisville team,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “To come up here on a Tuesday and hold them to two runs and make some pitches when we needed to says a lot about our team.”
Guthrie got things going quick in the top of the first with a single off of sophomore Ed Voyles (0-1). After stealing second base, he progressed to third base on a witch. Junior Buddy Reed would drive Guthrie home with a sacrifice ground ball to short.
Sophomore Jeremy Vasquez singled through the right side in the second inning and got to second on a balk before moving to third from a single by freshman Nelson Maldonado. With two outs at the time, Guthrie got on board the RBI train with a double, scoring Vasquez.
Freshman Jonathan India would lead off the fourth inning with a ground out at short. Maldonado would take a pitch on the wrist and looked pretty injured but stayed in to run the bases. A bad throw on a pickoff at first from Chris Haney allowed Maldonado to get to second. Guthrie, who has a team leading 18 games with multiple hits, struck again with a blooper to right field, scoring Maldonado, but thrown out in his attempt to turn it into a double.
With the Gators holding a 3-0 lead, Kowar would make his first major mistake when he pitched hung a fastball over the plate to Seminole freshman Jackson Lueck who really crushed the ball over right center field for a home run. That would be the only run Kowar would allow.
As they did all both times the Noles scored, the Gators answered in the follow up stanza. Deacon Liput got the inning going with a bunt that led to a throwing error by Haney and allowing Liput to get to second base. Buddy Reed would then sacrifice Liput to third with a ground out to the pitcher. Schwarz would deliver with an RBI single scoring Liput and making the score 4-1.
O’Sullivan would replace Kowar (4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 7 K, 2 BB) after a first batter walk to start the fifth. Sophomore Nick Horvath would last just one batter after he walked sophomore Taylor Walls. O’Sullivan went with Rubio who made them hit the ball in play and let the gator defense take over.
FSU’s John Sansone tapped a ball in front of the plate and Schwarz pounced on it like a cat on tuna and erased junior Matt Henderson at third. Alonso would then show a Golden Glove move with a back hand that Bjorn Borg would be proud of. After scooping the laser shot on the hop at first base, Alonso would go to second base for the force out. Rubio almost let one get away from him, but Dylan Busby’s long fly to right was out number three for the inning.
Rubio (2.0 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K) would walk the first two batters of the seventh inning and be removed by O’Sullivan. Kirby Snead would relieve Rubio and the Noles were tagging the ball hard early against the crafty junior. An infield rocket was launched by Walls towards Liput and it was a bit much for the freshman to handle at second but he did knock it down not allowing the runners to advance. Then India made one of the biggest plays of the game. With a bullet shot down the third base line by Sansone, India backhands the ball and makes the long throw to first for an out. If it got by India another run would have likely scored. Snead then forced a ground out and Guthrie with yet another super grab catches a hot shot in his direction from Busby for the third out.
The first batter up after the Noles scored their second run was Schwarz and he launched one over the left field fence for the 5-2 lead and just his fourth home run of the year. He had 18 as a freshman in 2015.
The Gators would add three more in the ninth. After a leadoff double by Reed, Schwarz would record his third RBI with a single to center field. Alonso would single moving Schwarz to second. Sophomore DH Mike Rivera would be hit by a pitch for the second time on the night and the bases would be loaded. India and Guthrie would both walk with bases loaded scoring the final two runs of the contest.
Sliding Liput up to the two-hole and ahead of Buddy Reed was more of a mind ploy than anything for his offensive unit according to O’Sullivan. While the results were good, he isn’t chalking up to the move.
“We moved the lineup around a little bit and I don’t think it was anything more than getting a fresh look and putting some guys in different parts of the order to make them stop thinking so much,” O’Sullivan said. “I don’t think it had any bearing on winning the game, I think we had good approaches throughout the game.
“I thought we came out of the gates swinging the bats very well. When JJ (Schwarz) is swinging the bat like he did tonight and Pete Alonso is, it’s pretty impressive, and Dalton (Guthrie) had three hits.”
Not enough can be said about the stellar defense from the squad. Not only were they making super plays, they played error free baseball for the fourth straight game. O’Sullivan thought the backhand by India was a huge one.
“I thought the play of the game was (Jonathan) India’s backhand play to his right in the seventh that stopped the momentum – that’s what you have to do on the road,” he said.
The Gators have claimed their last five meetings with the Seminoles, matching their longest stretch of victories in the series for the fourth time. O’Sullivan is 18-15 against Florida State, including 5-5 in Tallahassee. Florida is 8-3 against top-10 opponents this year and 10-3 against top-25 teams. Florida is 14-1 against Sunshine State rivals this year.
Florida travels to Arkansas for three game series starting on Thursday night which will be televised live on ESPNU.