Florida Gators baseball has been up-and-down this season but pulled off its second-straight victory over the top team in the nation on Tuesday when it fought through a bench-clearing scuffle and took down the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles 4-1 at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville in Jacksonville, FL.
Florida, which also beat Florida State 3-1 in Gainesville, FL last Tuesday, clinched the regular-season series over its in-state rival. The Gators (16-9) and Seminoles (19-5) will play the last contest in their three-game series in Tallahassee, FL on April 8.
It did not take long for UF to get on the board as junior second baseman Casey Turgeon (1/2, R, 2 BB) walked to open the bottom of the first and scored four batters later when junior first baseman Braden Mattson singled to right field.
The Gators boosted their advantage with two more runs in the sixth. Mattson (2/4, RBI, R, SB) singled to open the frame, advanced to second on a wild pitch and came around to score on a throwing error by pitcher Peter Miller, who corralled a sacrifice bunt from junior right-handed starter and designated hitter Justin Shafer but let it get away on a throw to first. Shafer scored unearned as freshman third baseman John Sternagel reached on a fielder’s choice with one out, and UF ended the inning leading 3-0.
Things got testy in Jacksonville two innings later when FSU left fielder D.J. Stewart hit a dribbler down the first-base line and collided with Florida sophomore lefty reliever Danny Young, who tried to field the ball in the base path but dropped it before Stewart arrived. UF junior 1B Zach Powers took offense to Stewart’s trucking of Young and met him chest-to-chest beyond the bag. Stewart responded by shoving Powers, and the benches cleared with both teams pushing and shoving.
All three players were ejected from the game, and the Seminoles failed to score.
Shafer (1/3, 2 R) would single to open up the latter half of the frame and quickly scored an insurance run for the Gators on an RBI single to center by Sternagel (1/3, 2 RBI, BB). Florida State C Danny De La Calle got heated when his feet got intertwined with Shafer’s after the batter slid home from third, and another fire had to be put out by the umpire before the game could resume.
FSU tried to rally in the top of the ninth, opening the inning with a solo homer to right-center by Jose Brizuela and getting the game-tying run to the plate with two outs, but ultimately came away the losers in Tuesday night’s affair.
Shafer (4.0 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 K) picked up the victory with junior right-handed reliever Ryan Harris (1.1 IP, ER, 2 H, BB, K) earning the save despite allowing the home run.
Editor’s note: Jameis Winston was actively held back by his teammates.
— jaxdotcom (@jaxdotcom) March 26, 2014