With a season-high 5,276 fans packed into McKethan Stadium, it was as loud as it has been all season during the ranked matchup between Florida and Florida State.
The bats, however, were silent.
The top-ranked Gators were shut out by the No. 19 Seminoles 2-0 on Tuesday night in Gainesville to put an end to their perfect season to start the year.
The in-state rivalry started off with a colossal mistake by the orange and blue.
FSU junior Reese Albert was at the plate with a runner in scoring position when he blasted a fly ball to left-center field.
UF shortstop Josh Rivera, left fielder Austin Langworthy and center fielder Jud Fabian all converged on the easy out — nobody caught it. All three ran to midfield while staring straight into the sky but the ball landed between the three of them on its way to the ground.
The fly ball resulted in a single and a run for freshman Tyler Martin to give the Seminoles (11-5) a quick 1-0 lead.
Florida (16-1) wasn't as lucky at the plate. Third baseman Kirby McMullen looked like he hit a home run in his first at-bat of the game in the bottom of the first frame — before sophomore Robby Martin made a spectacular play and robbed it by extending over the right-field wall for the out.
“I thought I had a chance there at first, but he made a good play on it,” McMullen said.
The score remained the same until the eighth inning.
Before that fateful frame, both of the teams’ sluggers were thoroughly neutralized by masterful performances on the mound.
UF starter Nick Pogue threw five strikeouts and allowed one run and four hits and walked one batter in his three innings. He was relieved by freshman Tyler Nesbitt, who struck out four Seminoles, allowed two hits and no walks in his three innings for UF.
And in the top of the seventh frame, UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan made another personnel change when he sent sophomore Christian Scott to the mound.
Meanwhile, the Seminoles elected to stay with starter Antonio Velez all the way until the bottom of the seventh.
Velez was relieved by lefty Parker Messick. Besides keeping UF off the scoreboard, Velez allowed only one hit, two walks and struck out seven at the plate.
“He kept us off balance with his changeup and we didn’t make adjustments and we kept having soft contact against him,” McMullen said.
After Scott struck out three Seminole batters in a row in the top of the seventh, he found himself being pulled in favor of freshman Ryan Cabarcas in the top of the eighth frame after allowing runners on third and second base.
Scott allowed three hits, walked one batter and threw three strikeouts. Cabarcas was thrown right into the fire for the Gators and got burned, however.
Florida State sophomore Nander De Sedas immediately hit a fly ball to left field for the sacrifice play, allowing junior Logan Lacey to score and extend FSU’s lead to 2-0.
Neither team scored in the ninth inning, and Florida picked up its first loss of the season right before starting SEC play on Friday against Georgia (14-3) at 6:30 p.m. in Gainesville.
“It’s disappointing, to be honest with you,” O’Sullivan said. “We know we weren’t going to go 56-0, but our approach to the plate tonight was not good.”
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