Nelson Maldonado may be a freshman, but he rose to the occasion in his first game against FSU.
In the second inning, Maldonado turned on a 2-1 pitch from FSU starter Tyler Holton and sent it flying over the left-field bleachers for a solo home run to put Florida ahead 1-0.
An inning later, Peter Alonso stepped up to the plate.
The junior first baseman smoked a two-run shot to left to grab a 3-0 lead and help set UF’s offense in motion early.
Behind the two Tampa natives’ homers, the No. 1 Gators (18-1) went on to defeat the No. 11 Seminoles 6-0 Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium.
The win marked the first time since 1994 that UF has shutout FSU at home.
Maldonado, who finished the game 1-for-3 with an RBI, said he knew his homer was gone because the wind was blowing out to left.
"I felt like I got a good piece on it," he said. "I still ran hard, but once Lars (Davis) gave me a handshake, I knew the ball was gone."
The Gators used nearly flawless defense to help starter Dane Dunning work around the Seminoles’ lineup.
In the second inning, UF third baseman Jonathan India erased a leadoff double after catching the runner too far off second on a ground ball.
FSU (13-4) led off the third inning with two singles, but Dunning escaped trouble by inducing Quincy Nieporte to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Florida turned two more double plays in the fourth and sixth innings, marking a season-high three double plays on Tuesday.
Dunning tossed 5.2 innings, allowed seven hits and surrendered no runs, striking out five batters in his second win of the season. The junior said he loved getting the chance to start against the in-state rival.
"I’ve always wanted to pitch against FSU since freshman year," Dunning said. "It’s a dream come true."
Meanwhile, Florida State’s defense showed holes.
With two outs in the fourth inning, Buddy Reed stole second and advanced to third after neither Seminole infielder covered second base to receive the catcher’s throw.
JJ Schwarz then knocked a single up the middle to plate Reed and give Florida a 4-0 advantage. The sophomore finished with one RBI and a team-high three hits.
The Gators tacked their final two runs in the fifth after loading the bases.
India singled through the left side to score sophomore Mike Rivera, and Jeremy Vasquez raced home from third to score after Guthrie struck out on a pitch that trickled away from the catcher.
The pitching combination of freshman Jackson Kowar, junior Kirby Snead and junior Shaun Anderson sealed the win. The trio went 3.1 scoreless innings in relief, allowing just two hits.
Florida will now begin Southeastern Conference play with a three-game home series against Missouri starting Friday at 7 p.m.