On Tuesday, the Florida State baseball team brought its five-game winning streak to Gainesville to challenge the No. 1 ranked Florida Gators. However, all of the things that carried the Seminoles to a 5-0 record last week were missing in a massive way. The result of this was a 6-0 shutout at the hands of the Gators, the first UF shutout of FSU at home since 1994. Here's what went well, and not so well, in the Seminoles' tough loss to their rival, Florida.
1. Although the 6-0 score is staggering, a closer look at the box score shows that it was not nearly dominant as the score would make you believe. After all, both teams finished the game with nine hits. The difference between the two teams offensively was that eight of FSU's nine hits were singles while UF had three extra-base hits, including two homers. The most positive takeaway from the Seminoles' play offensively was the success their leadoff hitters had each inning. By game's end, Florida State's leadoff hitters were an impressive 5-9 (.556), an extremely odd statistic when looking at the zero that FSU posted in the run column. That can assuredly be attributed to FSU's biggest negative takeaway from the loss.
2. In a true platoon performance that saw Florida State use six pitchers, one shone brightly above the rest. Cobi Johnson, who has looked at times tthroughout his career both impressive and dreadful, was in good form on Tuesday, working the eighth inning for the 'Noles and striking out all three batters he faced, all of whom were starters who were still in the game. In fact, Johnson was the only FSU pitcher who did not allow a single hit. If Johnson can carry over the prowess he showed tonight, he could be a very important arm both out of the bullpen and filling in some weekday starter roles.
3. Of Florida State's nine hits, five came from two of Florida State's most consistent bats: John Sansone and Dylan Busby. Sansone, who continues to produce in the batter's box at a torrid pace, was 2-4, bumping his season average even closer to .500 at .471. Busby, who homered in each of the final two games last weekend against Georgia Tech, carried over his hot bat, going 3-4 including the Seminoles' lone extra-base hit and improving his average to .369. Outside of those two, no other 'Noles had more than one hit as they were shut down by a very dominant pitching staff that seemed ready for the midweek rivalry game.
1. Florida State attained a fairly difficult task on Tuesday of racking up nine hits over a nine-inning game and not plating a single run. The reason why this happened is an obvious one and was also the most dooming aspect of the game for the 'Noles: situational hitting. Florida State cancelled out its five leadoff baserunners over the nine innings by grounding into three double plays, each of which came in the first six innings and halted what had previously been a promising scenario for Florida State. However, the poor hitting with runners on base extended far beyond just untimely double plays. FSU finished 3-20 (.150 ) with runners on base and 0-9 with runners in scoring position. With those results, you would be hard pressed to beat many teams, let alone the No. 1 team in the nation.
2. Entering Tuesday's matchup, it felt that a good portion of Florida State's chances hinged on a successful outing from freshman starter Tyler Holton. Holton, who has seen good innings out of the bullpen and found less success in each of his starts so far this season, had moments of solid pitching but struggled massively on the whole. He was chased after working 3+ innings and allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits, striking out two and walking four. Holton's biggest struggle was throwing strikes but not showing too much of the plate. He was burned twice on balls that he left over the plate by a pair of home runs to left field that accounted for three of UF's six runs.
3. Questionable fielding by Florida State reared its ugly head once again on Tuesday as the Seminoles finished the game with three errors, one each by Matt Henderson, Cal Raleigh, and Busby. That also leaves out multiple routine pop flies in foul territory that FSU was unable to locate and let drop, not counted as an error because no one touched the ball but very harmful nonetheless. All of these errors and mistakes on defense allowed extra at-bats for a Florida offense that is among the most potent in the country and the Gators definitely took advantage.
With the loss, Florida State falls to 13-4 on the season. The Seminoles are back in action on Friday when they make the trip up north to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers in a three-game series. FSU gets a chance for redemption against UF in two weeks when they face off on March 29th at the Baseball Grounds in Jacksonville.