TALLAHASSEE--Florida claimed its season series against rival Florida State with a 10-2 win Tuesday night, using a five-run first inning and holding the Seminoles to just one hit in the first six innings.
Freshman Greg Larson pitched great in his first career start, throwing 4.1 shutout innings to earn the win. Left fielder Avery Barnes kicked off the scoring with a three-run home run to right field in the top of the first, and Florida added two more on a sacrifice fly and wild pitch.
Barnes finished 4 for 5 with three RBIs and two runs, and his homer was partly due to the man standing on deck.
If you haven't been following UF baseball lately, you've missed out on an amazing few weeks by freshman Preston Tucker, as he was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week twice.
Three weeks ago, he hit .500 across five games including six RBIs and three extra-base hits in a sweep of Alabama. After that week, he was hitting .304 with one home run on the season.
That changed in a hurry, as he cranked three home runs in a 16-3 win against UCF. Tucker hit a grand slam in the fifth inning, a three-run homer in the sixth and another grand slam in the seventh. That tied a school record for home runs in a game and made him the third player in conference history to have two grand slams in a game. His 11 RBIs also set a school record.
After that week, Tucker's average stood at a team-best .359. He also had team highs in slugging percentage (.624), total bases (73), RBIs (45), multi-RBI games (11), home runs (seven) and sac flies (three).
On Tuesday in Tallahassee, Tucker was just 1 for 5, but he probably deserves some credit for Barnes' homer in the first. With runners on first and second, FSU starter Bo O'Dell fell behind 2-0 to Barnes, and with Tucker on deck, there was no way he'd risk loading the bases.
That left Barnes sitting dead red on a fastball, and he smacked a high, deep flyball that flew over the raised fence in the short right field and just managed to stay fair.
“I was hoping it would be a fastball because if it was
something else, I would have looked kind of silly," Barnes said. "I was looking fastball, got
what I was looking for and got lucky I guess.”
He added: “Preston is an extremely talented hitter. It’s always good to have him behind you. Whether you get on base and he can drive you in or you mess up and he can come in behind you and get the job done. He has been extremely hot lately, he’s swinging an extremely hot bat. It’s fun having him right behind you.”
The big first inning pretty much took the FSU crowd out of the game until the seventh. The only incident was when UF second baseman Josh Adams slid cleats-up into second base when he was caught stealing in the third inning. That drew an argument from FSU coaches, who felt he should be ejected, and some booing. Adams was greeted with "Hey Adams, you're a bum!" at each following at-bat, and he answered with a two-run homer in the seventh that drew more boos.
Interesting side story: UF designated hitter Teddy Foster showed up in a No. 47 jersey after leaving his No. 50 in the locker room in Gainesville, and it worked pretty well for him. He hit his second homer of the season and finished 2 for 3 with three RBIs.
"I’m not going to be able to play this off," Foster said. "I left my jersey in the locker room, and about 15 minutes into the bus ride, I realized I didn’t have it. I told some of the staff and they said we had some extras. I’m wearing an old teammate’s from last year who graduated and is no longer in the team (Brett Bentley). I’m just lucky we had one laying around.”
“I joked with the team after the home run and the hit that
if it works this well, I might have to stick with it for a while and see if I
can get some hits out of it.”
The Gators are 24-12 and unranked in the Baseball America poll, and they'll host Stetson on Wednesday in a rain-rescheduled game before welcoming Ole Miss to town this weekend.