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3 up, 3 down: FSU unable to overcome early deficit in loss to UF

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The Seminoles drop the neutral-site matchup in Jacksonville, as well as the season series, to the Gators.

Andrew Karp
wlpearce.com

Florida State’s offense came up flat against Florida once again on Tuesday as the Seminoles (18-8) were unable to overcome an early four-run deficit in Jacksonville’s Baseball Grounds, falling 4-1 to the Gators despite a solid bounce back from the FSU pitching staff.

3 up

1. For as rocky as Andrew Karp’s first inning was (and it was dreadful, see below), he, along with the FSU bullpen, settled down nicely to control a potent Florida offense from there.

Over the course of the second through fifth innings, he retired 12 of the 14 batters he faced, surrendering a sole hit and a walk. A week after he was unable to get out of the first inning against JU, perhaps getting himself out of the jam this time and putting together a solid outing afterwards is what the doctor ordered to get him out of this funk he has found himself in after an impressive start, a belief that head coach Mike Martin shared after the game.

The bullpen picked up right where Karp left off as Zirzow pitched two scoreless innings, Haney chipped in one, and Drew Carlton threw a perfect ninth.

In all, FSU’s pitching staff allowed no runs over the final eight innings, giving up just two hits, two walks, and a hit-by-pitch over that time frame.

2. With Florida State’s offense in desperate need of some assistance facing a 4-0 deficit before even coming to the plate, the majority of the help came from a pair of freshmen. Centerfielder J.C. Flowers, a Jacksonville native, had two of FSU’s five hits, flashing his potential once again.

Meanwhile, Nick Derr, playing as the designated hitter, led the Seminoles’ limited plate discipline charge, working two of FSU’s four walks.

In a game where Florida State saw only nine baserunners, four of them coming from these two first-year players is both a showcase of how promising each of them is and an indictment of how poor the veterans were at the plate in the loss.

3. For as few things as FSU did well in Tuesday’s loss, the Seminoles were exceptional in the field once again.. Florida State put together another flawless defensive showing against Florida, the team’s third errorless effort in the last four games.

The ’Noles may have underwhelmed at the plate relative to preseason expectations so far this season, but I would argue that they have overachieved defensively. Their .973 fielding percentage was 80th in the nation entering Tuesday and that will only improve after another game with no errors.

3 down

1. For Florida State at the plate on Tuesday, it was a new day and a new game, but the exact same script against the Florida pitching staff.

The Seminoles left seven of their nine baserunners on base and wasted countless opportunities with runners in scoring position.

FSU may have scored a single run in the sixth inning, snapping a 36-inning scoreless streak against the Gators, but that is unlikely to lend any solace to a Florida State fanbase up in arms over how consistently underwhelming this team has been against UF of late.

2. Now, we must talk about the elephant in the room: Karp’s second consecutive dismal start.

A week after he was pulled after just 0.2 innings and allowed six runs to the visiting Jacksonville Dolphins, Karp was hit for four runs, all earned, in the first inning.

Karp began his outing poorly with a walk followed by two hits to surrender a run before even recording an out. From there, he bounced back with a pair of outs. However, needing just one more out to escape without further damage, he mistimed his one substantial flaw of the outing, hanging a pitch to UF catcher Mike Rivera which he planted over the left-field fence for a three-run shot.

Four runs allowed against an offense as potent as Florida’s is hardly a bad outing. That being said, when supported by an offense that has struggled mightily over the last few games against the Gators, spotting UF a 4-0 lead before your team even comes up to the plate is not going to lead to success.

3. Looking down the lineup, no veteran in the Florida State batting order managed more than one hit.

The part of the lineup you would expect to be among Florida State’s strongest, the top of the order, actually proved to be a weak spot in Tuesday’s loss.

Taylor Walls, Jackson Lueck, and Cal Raleigh were a combined 1-10 (.100) against Florida, scoring and knocking in no runs while leaving three men on base.

With a ridiculously tough stretch of schedule now underway for the Seminoles, that must change in a hurry.

That difficult stretch continues this week as Florida State is back at home for a three-game set with huge ACC implications against No. 8 North Carolina.

With regard to the next matchup against the Gators, FSU looks to avoid being on the wrong side of a regular season sweep against Florida for the second consecutive year in two weeks in Tallahassee.