April 10, 2012

New No. 1 FSU hosts No. 4 Florida on Tuesday



All season long the mid-week match up between Florida (25-7) and Florida State (27-5) has featured the top-ranked team in college baseball.


The third meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. (ESPN3) in Tallahassee will be no different.


Except for the fact that the Gators are no longer atop the polls and for the fist time since 2008 it is the Seminoles who come at No. 1.


FSU earned the top ranking in three of the four major polls after a three-game sweep of then No. 24 Georgia Tech over the weekend in Atlanta.


Florida has fallen to No. 4 due to losses in five of its last seven games after a 4-1 win over FSU in Jacksonville on March 27 to clinch the season series against the Seminoles (UF won the first meeting as well on March 13 in Gainesville 9-2).


"It's certainly a little different this year," FSU head coach Mike Martin said of the rivalry. "They have been ranked number one the majority of the year. They're a team that has solid pitching, defense, they're just unquestionably one of the best teams in the country."


Sitting atop the rankings does not erase the fact that the Gators have clinched their first season series over FSU since 2009 for Martin and his team. He said that UF certainly deserved to win the first two games this season but he hopes that won't be the case on Tuesday.


"The fact that we've lost the series does not go unnoticed," Martin said. "We just know that we need to play better against the University of Florida. They've outplayed us the first two games and they deserved to win. Our job Tuesday night is to go out and play better than we did the first two games and hopefully get the job done."


On the mound, junior Scott Sitz (1-2, 2.60 ERA) will be looking to get the job done for FSU. The Jacksonville Beach native has had tremendous success against UF in his career. In three career starts versus the Gators, Sitz is 2-0 with a 1.67 ERA. He also has a 1-1 record as reliever against UF as he took loss in the first meeting this year after allowing two earned runs on two hits in two innings.


Sitz bounced back as he made the start in the second meeting at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. He earned a no decision as he gave up one earned run on two hits and struck out five.


"Playing against (Florida) just brings the intensity up and makes me just want to beat them," he said. "Every single time. That mentality out there is just get them out."


Sitz followed up his start in Jacksonville with another impressive outing in a 5-1 loss to Florida Gulf Coast on April 4. Sitz stuck out a career-high nine batters and gave up just two earned runs on three hits in six innings as he took the loss.


Sitz credited improved control of his slider for the success in his last two starts.


"It's starting to come around finally," Sitz said of the slider. "It only took a few years but I'm happy that it's finally staring to work better and I'm able to control it better and hit spots with it, rather than just throwing it up there."


Martin said he is very confident with Sitz on the mound, but knows that UF's recent struggles don't mean that anything will be handed to his club.


"Scotty is the type of guy that enjoys competition," Martin said. "He's not intimidated by any situation and I'm just proud that he is throwing the ball well and we know that it's going to be a challenge for all us. They're still a very good baseball team, just because they've lost a few recently-they're a very tough baseball team."


Noteworthy


  • Prior to Tuesday's game Mike Martin will be honored by FSU for winning his 1,700th career game on Sunday with an 8-4 win over Georgia Tech.


  • The Gators will be seeking their first win at Dick Howser Stadium since a 10-2 victory on April 14, 2009.


  • UF is attempting just its second-ever sweep of the regular-season series with the Seminoles and first since taking a pair of meetings in Gainesville on April 11-12, 1958 (8-7, 8-1).




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