The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

No. 14 Gators take down No. 5 Florida State

315 days ago
Florida Athletics
Photo: Florida Athletics

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - No. 14 Florida delivered an 11-hit effort backed by errorless defense to defeat No. 5 Florida State by a final score of 6-3 in front of 8,122 fans at 121 Financial Ballpark on Tuesday night.

Shortstop Josh Rivera paced the Orange & Blue offensively, going 3-for-4 with one home run, one double, three RBI, one run scored and one stolen base.

Right-handed relief ace Blake Purnell took care of the rest, shutting down the Seminoles over the final 2 2/3 innings to put the game on ice.

The Gators (18-7, 3-3 SEC) received a zero from starting pitcher Garrett Milchin in the first, as the veteran right-hander struck out one while stranding a pair of FSU singles.

After a scoreless bottom half of the first that saw Sterlin Thompson collect a two-out knock, the Seminoles (16-8, 6-3 ACC) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI single to left by Colton Vincent.

Florida answered back in the bottom half by mounting a two-out rally. After BT Riopelle and Kendrick Calilao went down in order, Deric Fabian kept the inning alive with a sharp single to right center. Rivera then stepped to the dish and delivered a clutch, run-scoring double down the left-field line to tie the game.

In the third, left fielder Wyatt Langford made a sensational catch at the wall, robbing Logan Lacey of a three-run homer to keep the game knotted. Langford proceeded to make a second highlight reel play, sliding at the wall in foul territory down the left-field line for out number three.

In the bottom of the frame, Langford put the Gators on top by beating out a potential double play ball, allowing Jud Fabian to score.

The Seminoles responded in the top of the fourth to bring the tally back to even at two runs apiece. With the bases loaded, Reese Albert drew a one-out walk to plate Brett Roberts against right-handed reliever Nick Ficarrotta. That prompted right-hander Brandon Neely's entrance into the contest, with the freshman striking out both of the two batters he faced to work Florida out of a pivotal situation.

Neely returned to the mound in the fifth and again blanked Florida State while picking up two more strikeouts. The Gators took advantage of the zero, with Langford leading off the bottom of the fifth with a triple into the left-center field gap. Riopelle put an end to the tie with an RBI single to second base, but the game was broken open just three batters later. With two outs and one man on, Rivera connected for a no-doubt, two-run homer to straightaway left field to extend the Florida lead to 5-2.

Southpaw Philip Abner took over for Neely in the sixth and churned out the second shutout frame in as many innings for the Gators. The freshman reliever returned to the hill in the seventh, but exited in favor of Purnell with one out and two men on.

Purnell allowed one of Abner's baserunners to score via a sacrifice fly to right by Roberts, but the righty successfully navigated the Gators away from further damage while preserving the lead.

Purnell provided another scoreless inning for the Orange & Blue in the eighth, opening the door for an insurance run by the Florida offense in the bottom half.

With two outs, Thompson reached second on a throwing error by Seminoles pitcher Davis Hare. Thompson advanced to third on a wild pitch and later touched home on another wild pitch to make it 6-3.

Staying in to close the game, Purnell returned to the mound and fired a scoreless ninth highlighted by two strikeouts to earn his second save of the campaign. Purnell finished with 2 2/3 frames of scoreless ball, allowing just one walk while striking out four batters.

Neely (1-0) earned his first-career victory, pitching 1 2/3 shutout innings on one hit and one walk while striking out four. Milchin lasted 2 1/3 innings in Tuesday's start, surrendering one earned run on five hits with one strikeout.

Florida State starting pitcher Carson Montgomery (3-1) was saddled with his first loss of the year. The right-hander gave up five earned runs on eight hits and two walks, striking out six.

Thompson (3-for-5), Riopelle (2-for-4) and Rivera (3-for-4) all registered multi-hit efforts in the win.

Notables

  • The Gators improve to 8-1 vs. Florida-based teams in 2022. That includes a 3-1 mark vs. ACC teams.
  • Florida rises to 7-0 in midweek games this season.
  • Rivera finished a triple shy of the program's first cycle in over 20 years, going 3-for-4 with one home run, one double, three RBI, one run scored and one steal. Still, it was a leadoff triple by Langford in the fifth that provided Florida's eventual go-ahead run, as Langford scored from third on an RBI groundout by Riopelle.
  • In 14 appearances this year spanning 23 1/3 innings, Purnell has allowed an earned run in just one outing - on March 20 at Alabama. He now owns a 0.77 ERA on the season. Purnell retired eight of the nine batters he faced with four strikeouts to earn his second save of the season.
  • Tuesday marked Milchin's fourth-career start vs. Florida State.
  • Florida is now 123-130-1 vs. FSU including a 14-11 record in neutral-site games.
  • The Gators are 31-18 vs. the Seminoles under head coach Kevin O'Sullivan.
  • Florida has won 18 of the last 21 meetings including 13 of the last 15.
  • The Gators have won two-straight vs. the Noles. The Gators have won 17 of their last 22 games overall.
  • Thompson extended his team-leading hitting streak to six games.

Quotables

FROM HEAD COACH KEVIN O'SULLIVAN

On the win... "On a night when the field was playing really big... [Logan] Lacey hit the ball, I thought immediately when it was off the bat it was a home run. I thought the ball that Wyatt hit into left center field was gone. The wind held that up. The field was playing really big tonight. We did just enough. We did make some mistakes. Walked too many guys. We walked three in that one inning and two of the three walks were 0-2 counts. We ended up walking a run in. We threw a wild pitch there later in the game that advanced the runner to third and gave up the third run. We had second and third with nobody out and we didn't move the ball. Credit their pitchers."

On the Florida pitching... "We got some young pitchers out there in some big spots and they performed well tonight. Brandon Neely came in with the middle of the order and got two big strikeouts. Phillip [Abner] that one inning got the big double play, the 6-4-3. We're really young on the mound, but hopefully games like this give them a little bit more confidence. Blake came in and did a great job at the end."

On Langford's defense... "I couldn't tell, from my angle, if he had caught it or not, but, obviously, that was an unbelievable play. Then the other one was really hard, too. He was running towards the line. The wind is blowing from left to right, so the ball's going to come back towards the field. That's a really tough play. Those two plays probably made a big difference in the game, to be honest with you."

Up Next

The Gators travel to Athens for a three-game series at Georgia, spanning from Thursday, March 31 to Saturday, April 2. Game one will air on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET.