The Seminoles dropped their 10th consecutive game to the Gators on Tuesday night and their 15th of the last 16 match-ups. The lone win over that span came in June of 2016 during a Super Regional meeting. This recap is not an opportunity to just throw salt in the wounds of losing to your biggest rival in various soul crushing and embarrassing ways, but to continually emphasize just how far the baseball program in Tallahassee has fallen behind the times.
In his first 30 years, head coach Mike Martin, built an absolute powerhouse of a program in Florida State. Despite not winning title and having extremely talented teams, the Seminoles program was elite and contenders year in and year out. Over the past decade, however, Mike Martin has allowed the program to decline and be lapped by other teams in his conference and the southeast. If you would like to read more about the state of Florida State baseball here is an article that will get you up to speed.
Behold a brief synopsis of the past ten games against the Gators:
UF had already swept the three games played against FSU in the regular season but after winning game one of the Super Regional pairing Florida bounced back and did what they do best against the Seminoles. The ‘Noles managed only two hits as a team against the Gator’s 2nd round pick who threw eight shutout innings en route to a 5-0 shutout.
The Gators ended the Seminoles season in the third game of a Super Regional matchup winning by a 7-0 score. It was their sixth meeting of the season with UF taking five of them. FSU received a raw deal when the postseason began as they were paired with the no. 1 overall seed Florida. The Seminoles’ offense went just 2 for 52 with runners in scoring position and 63 strikeouts in the six games they played.
The Seminoles squandered an 11 strikeout performance from Andrew Karp in a 1-0 game played in Gainesville. FSU hitters managed just four singles and no walks while striking out 10 ten times.
If the Seminoles could erase the mistakes made in the first inning of this game they might have won. All four runs UF scored in this game came in the first inning off of Andew Karp, the Gators managed just two hits over the final eight innings of the game. The Seminoles meek offense had only five hits, four of them singles and a single run in a 4-1 loss.
Having already lost the first two games of the season series and scoring just one run in those two games the ‘Noles bats came alive in the third game with seven runs. The horrendous defense (3 errors) and hideous pitching however doomed FSU as they lost 10-7. Nine of the first ten runs UF scored came off a trio of Seminoles pitchers who recorded just 11 outs in the first 21 batters they faced.
The Seminoles had a 4-3 lead entering the bottom of the fifth inning in Gainesville before the wheels came off. The Gators scored seven runs in that frame giving them a six run lead. While there was not an official error in the box score the FSU defense misplayed multiple balls that should’ve been easy outs allowing the best team in the country to take advantage and win easily. Poor management of the bullpen also played into the equation and by night’s end this game marked the 12th loss in their last 13 games played against UF.
A complete game tossed by Andrew Karp in which he allowed only one run was still not enough for the Seminoles to beat the Gators in Jacksonville. The lone run of the game came off a single in the fourth inning. Three singles and two walks was all that the Florida State hitters could manage against the Florida pitching staff in a heartbreaking 1-0 shutout loss.
The Seminoles offense was not enough to overcome the six runs scored by UF in the opening game of the season that saw both teams ranked in the top ten. Offensively, Florida State put the leadoff runner on base in four of the first seven innings but managed only a single run in three of those innings. The most glaring missed opportunity came in the sixth inning when FSU had runners on the corners with no outs and scored zero runs. To make matters worse the defense committed three errors against the no. 1 team in the nation and lost by a 6-3 score.
All was going great for Florida State after they jumped out to a 6-0 lead against UF through the first 4.5 innings played in Gainesville. The streak of eight straight losses looked like it had a real chance of ending. Then the disparity of the two programs became ever evident as Florida scored 20 runs over the next four innings to crush the ‘Noles by a final score of 20-7. While only three errors showed up in the box score there was at least 10 mistakes by this team in the field, at the plate and on the base paths that all contributed to this abysmal showing. This game was a prime example of the lack of leadership shown by the head coach and how it translates to play on the field.
The Seminoles led the Gators by a three runs after six innings of play in Jacksonville. FSU had outplayed UF but once again the ‘Noles managed to clutch defeat out of the hands of victory. Two errors in the 7th inning (3 on the day) allowed Florida to claim the lead en route to a 4-2 victory. The pitching staff finished with the following line and lost, 9 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 K. At some point you begin to feel sorry for these kids as they just don’t have what it takes mentally to play a complete game against their biggest rivals.
What can you say about a streak that has seen your offense score one run or less in half the games played and shutout in four of those games? What can you say when in the five games your offense does score more than one run but your defense commits 12 (official) errors? What can you say about a team that is consistently mismanaged in all facets of the game?
At this point there is not much to say other than “at least there’s next year.” Head coach, Mike Martin, is in his final season and the Florida State baseball program desperately needs a breath of fresh air, a new coach that can revitalize the program to compete at a national level with other powerhouses who are consistently in the hunt to make it to Omaha.
Who that person will be is still to be determined, but whoever it is, it can only get better.