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March 26, 2013

Florida State defeats Florida 2-1 in Jacksonville



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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It might sound cliché, but baseball truly is a game of inches.

Tuesday night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, No. 4 Florida State squeezed by the Florida Gators 2-1 to clinch the season series.

Giovanny Alfonzo drove in the winning run with an RBI-infield single that was just far enough to the left of UF (11-15) shortstop Casey Turgeon forcing a high throw to pull Vickash Ramjit off the bag at first as FSU (23-2) scored the winning run.

"I thought it was getting through," Alfonzo said. " Turgeon made a great play on it. I thought it went through. I hit and just put my head down and ran. I saw Ramjit set up for the throw ... as soon I saw his foot come off my hand went up in the air, the crowd went crazy. It was awesome."

The hit provided one of the few offensive moments for the split crowd of 9,269 on a chilly night. FSU's first run came on an RBI-bases loaded walk by John Nogowski in the first inning, and Florida scored on a Connor Mitchell RBI single to center in the second inning.

After the second inning, neither team recorded a hit until Marcus Davis' leadoff singles in the seventh inning. Florida didn't record a hit the rest of the night after Mitchell's single.

FSU starter Luke Weaver turned in yet another solid performance as he allowed just one earned run on three hits and one walk, striking out a career-high nine.

Early on Weaver gave up a couple of hard hits, but after allowing the only Gator run in the second inning the sophomore cruised for much of the night. His lone jam came in his final inning of the night as he faced runners on the corners in the sixth inning.

UF centerfielder Harrison Bader reached on a one-out Alfonzo error to start the inning. After a pop-up made it two outs, Weaver attempted to pickoff Bader, but his throw was way off the mark and Bader moved all the way to third base.

After intentionally walking Taylor Gushue, Weaver struck out Ramjit with perhaps his best fastball of the night. The mild-manner DeLand, Fla. native let out a scream of excitement as he let the pitch go and headed to the dugout with the 1-1 score intact.

"After that (pickoff) error I was pretty upset, but I tried to keep my poise and know that that was an important run," Weaver said. "So having him up there and being 0-2 I tried to buckle down and throw the best pitch possible and it went in my favor and I don't think I've been that pumped up in a while."

Behind Weaver Bryant Holtmann allowed just one walk in 1.2 innings, before Gage Smith (3-0) used just one-pitch to induce a groundout to end the top half of the eighth and pick up his third win of the year.

Robby Coles worked a perfect ninth inning, striking out Zack Powers to end the game and pick up his fifth save.

"If you look at the game you obviously look at what has been the story most of the year, and that was our pitching," FSU head coach Mike Martin said. "It was a game that we got crucial relief work, I mean what can you say more (about) Luke Weaver."

After Smith ended the top half of the eighth inning, Jose Brizuela started the bottom half with a leadoff double and advanced to third on a Danny Young balk with no outs. Young (0-2) was pulled after the balk, he pitched four innings, giving up one run on two hits and two walks as he took the loss.

Despite a man on third with no outs, FSU looked like it was going to squander another scoring opportunity in the eighth inning. The Seminoles had left the bases loaded in the fist inning and stranded a total of 11 runners in the game.

With Brizuela on third, pinch-hitter Casey Smit grounded out to first on an 0-1 pitch. Seth Miller followed with his second strikeout of the night to bring Aflonzo to the plate.

The sophomore shorstop's slow roller was just far enough up the middle that Turgeon had to dive and attempt a throw from his knees.

"You can't think that way," Aflonzo said when asked if he thought FSU was going to let another scoring opportunity slip by. "It's just part of the game, you can't slow up at all."

After the game Martin said that he and the coaching staff would discuss the possibility of moving Weaver into the weekend rotation. Peter Miller (3-0, 3.20) failed to make it out of the second inning of Sunday's series finale against Georgia Tech, while Weaver has gone at least six innings in every start this season.

"That's pretty doggone impressive," Martin said of Weaver's start Tuesday. "Lets face it, there will be some discussion where we go from here."



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