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April 10, 2012

No. 1 FSU falls to No.4 Florida 6-3

For the third time this season No. 1 Florida State saw an early lead evaporate against No. 4 Florida.

Despite FSU's early three-run lead, the Gators (26-7) came away with a 6-3 win in front of a raucous crowd of 6,730 fans at Dick Howser Stadium on Tuesday night.

It marks the first time since 1958 that UF has swept the regular season series from FSU and was the Gators' first win in Tallahassee since April 14, 2009.

"The University of Florida did an excellent job tonight of getting key hits and having good at bats," FSU head coach Mike Martin said. "They just did a very good job and plain and simple they beat us. They deserved to win. They pitched well, hit well and didn't lose their pose when they got behind."

In the bottom of the first FSU took a 1-0 lead on a solo home run drilled to center field by Devon Travis (3).

The Seminoles extended the lead in the bottom of the third inning as Travis and James Ramsey led off the inning with a pair of singles. After Ramsey's single he and Travis executed a double steal of second and third. On the play the throw from UF catcher Mike Zunino sailed into center field allowing Travis to score and Ramsey to advance to third.

Ramsey scored on a sacrifice fly by Stephen McGee for a 3-0 lead.

FSU would fail to score again as three Gator relievers gave up just one hit in six innings of work striking out seven and walking none.

The most impressive performance came from UF reliever Ryan Harris, who entered the game in top of the fourth for starter Brian Johnson. Harris had pitched just six innings all season entering the game, but on Tuesday night, the freshman pitched a career-high three innings of shutout baseball.

The right-hander earned his first collegiate victory, as he was perfect in three innings of work with one strikeout.

"(Harris) had a very heavy baseball," Martin said. "He sunk the ball well. Was all around the strike zone. Made some very good pitches and got some ground balls."

As Harris shut down the Seminoles offense, the Gator bats came alive. Trailing 3-1 in the top of the fifth, Zunino tied the game with a two-run homer off of the scoreboard in left field.

FSU starter Scott Sitz got out of the inning without further damage retiring the next three batters to finish with a final line of five innings pitches, three earned runs allowed on eight hits and two walks.

Florida took the lead for good in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Casey Turgeon off of reliever Brian Busch. The run was charged to Kyle Bird (0-1) who took the loss.

With one out and the bases loaded Busch gave way to freshman Luke Weaver who came in to face Florida's top two hitters Zunino and Preston Tucker.

Weaver got Zunino to go down swinging on a 2-2 pitch and Tucker to pop up to short stop on a 2-1 pitch to keep it a one-run ball game.

"I just kind of tried to attack and not give into him, stay on the corners," Weaver said of the strikeout of Zunino. "Just kind of got ahead and made a pitch. It kind of drifted to where I didn't want it and I got kind of lucky there as he swung through it."

Weaver came up a solo home run in top of the seventh to Nolan Fontanta but was able to put finish his outing with another strikeout of Zunino in the eighth. The freshman struck out five and allowed one run on two hits in his 2.2 innings.

Florida added its final run on a solo home run by Brian Johnson in the top of the ninth off of Robert Benincasa. It was the first homer allowed by the Seminoles' closer all season and just the second earned run.

"Sometimes when pitches are made that are not exactly where they need to be they get fouled off. A couple of them didn't get fouled off," Martin said of the three home runs allowed.

In the bottom of the eight FSU had a final chance to tie things up as Travis recorded his third hit of the night, a leadoff double. But FSU was unable to do anything with it as Ramsey went down on strikes, Jayce Boyd flied out, and McGee grounded out.

"Pretty frustrating man," Travis said of the loss. "It's the biggest game of the year for me and a lot of other guys, we don't like those - it's not like we don't like them as people - but it's the Gators. It's something that when you sign at Florida State, that something that you always look forward to. Any time you get swept by any team, it hurts, with it being the Gators, it doesn't help out any."

Notable

  • After the game Travis had a slight limp as his right knee swelled up some due to a prior injury.

    "My knee is fine," he said. "I just banged it up a little bit. That same thing from before...it flared up a little bit."

  • The 6,730 fans in attendance Tuesday night were the fourth most in school history.

  • Leadoff hitter Sherman Johnson failed to reach base for just the second time in 33 games this season.



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