Florida State University (27-6) entered Tuesday night's game with a chance to finish a season sweep of the University of Florida (16-18) at home in front of the sell-out crowd of 6,719 fans- the fifth highest turnout in school history.
But the Seminoles couldn't get out of their own way in the series finale against the Gators, committing four errors and allowing the final two Florida runs to score without a hit.
If it's possible for one team to gift-wrap a game for another, the Seminoles did their best to accomplish that on Tuesday night.
"To sit here and smile takes an awful lot because I'm awfully disappointed," said FSU head coach Mike Martin after game. "We did not deserve to win, they played better, they didn't walk as many as we did, they didn't make four errors [like] we did. And when you do that you're going to get beat."
Asked about the Seminoles' errors and the fact the final two Gator runs crossed without a hit, Martin just chuckled.
"I really appreciate you bringing that up. It really made my night," he joked.
"All I knew is I saw that run coming across, it was- from a fan's standpoint- it was a good ballgame it was just we happened to be on the losing end. When you make four errors and walk four times as many as they did, you deserve to lose."
Florida State struck first when LF Marcus Davis launched a two-out double off the wall in right-centerfield to score CF DJ Stewart in the bottom of the first inning. But the Gators evened things up a couple of frames later when a sacrifice fly from CF Richie Martin scored LF Harrison Bader in the top of the 3rd.
In the top of the 5th the Gators took their first lead of the series when SS Cody Dent scored on a bloop double to shallow rightfield by Martin.
Without starter Josh Delph in right the Seminoles have been forced to go with Brett Knief, that potentially cost FSU an extra base on Martin's hit. Delph is day-to-day with a viral infection.
The Gators' lead was short-lived though. Stewart collected his third hit of the evening in the bottom of the 5th inning when he connected with a 2-2 pitch from new UF pitcher Justin Shafer for a solo homerun over the right-field wall. The swing removed Bobby Poyner as the pitcher of record for UF, leaving the sophomore LHP with a no-decision.
Poyner finished the day with 4 innings pitched, 4 hits allowed, one earned run, three K's and two walks but left the game before the start of the fifth inning as a result of a controlled start and was forced to watch Stewart undo his claim to a win from the bench as the ball traveled over the wall and tied the game at two just moments after he was replaced.
Florida State starter Peter Miller also failed to factor into the decision despite a solid outing. Miller pitched five innings, gave up five hits and two earned runs while walking two and striking out a batter. He was replaced by Gage Smith with the game tied heading into the sixth inning.
"[Peter] had a good outing, he really did I was very, very pleased with him," said Martin. "He just had a couple of pitches [not go his way], I mean one was not hit well at all and that should have been another error because we threw to the wrong base."
In the bottom of the 6th inning the Seminoles retook the lead when DH Jameis Winston doubled to right-centerfield and scored Casey Smit from third, but once again the lead was short-lived. The following inning the Gators scored from first without a hit on a stolen base, an error and a wild pitch to tie the game at 3.
Both teams had a chance to pull ahead in the 8th. The Gators used an error against Winston (who came on to pitch at the start of the 8th) and a single to put two men in scoring position with one out. After issuing an intentional walk to load the bases Martin opted to replace Winston with Robbie Coles who managed to get out of the jam for Florida State without allowing anybody to cross.
In the bottom of the inning C Stephen McGee lead things off with a single and Casey Smit was able to draw a one-out walk, but after McGee advanced to third on a wild pitch Jose Brizuela couldn't manage to elevate a ball to the outfield and drive him in, instead hitting into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.
Things got worse for Brizuela as the ninth inning started. After fielding a hard grounder to third the sophomore made a throwing error across the infield that allowed Bader to reach and advance to second. Robby Coles made a throwing error on a pickoff attempt moments later which let Bader advance to third with no outs. After that 2B Josh Tobias had no problem hitting a ball to right field to score Bader and give Florida a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the 9th inning.
The capacity crowd at Dick Howser tried to urge the Seminoles on in the final inning but it wasn't enough. Florida State went down 1-2-3 as Florida closed the game out, escaping Tallahassee with a win and leaving the Seminoles with a sick feeling in the pit of their stomachs.
"I really, really like this groups of guys, and this baseball team," said Martin. "This too shall pass, the sun will come up tomorrow and we will play Friday God willing.
"But I am disappointed."
Florida State hosts Duke this weekend for a three games series starting on Friday evening.
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