GAINESVILLE – No. 15 Florida State defeated No. 1 Florida for the first time since 2016 with a 2-0 win on Tuesday night.
The Seminoles used masterful pitching performances from Antonio Velez and Parker Messick to knock off their rivals, snapping an 11-game losing streak to the Gators. Here are some thoughts from the win:
Velez and Messick were incredible against UF on the evening.
The Seminoles opted for the experienced lefty (6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K) to handle the big matchup against the Gators. Losing 11 in a row has weighed heavily on the program and a steadying force on the hill was needed. The senior has shown calm and collected moments often in his career at FSU and once again rose to the occasion against a very good Florida lineup.
Messick has been somewhat of a revelation this season for Mike Martin Jr. and his staff.
An impressive outing against No. 2 Texas Tech gave a glimpse of the potential. Against the Gators, on the road in front of more than 5,200 fans, the freshman took another step forward. He tossed three innings of shutout ball, giving up just two hits, while walking none and striking out seven batters. The southpaw touched 94 MPH with the fastball against UF, while also displaying a wipeout slurve and devastating change-up.
The true depth of the FSU staff is shining, with multiple arms the coaches can be confident in from both sides. With an elite starting rotation, having this type of depth will be key for the Seminoles all season. It can the difference between a Super Regional and Omaha.
Defense Takes a Step
Florida State committed 0 errors for the first time in 2020.
The Seminoles tried Logan Lacey at third base and Dylan Simmons at first. Lacey looked the most confident of anyone FSU has tried at the position so far this season. He handled pop-ups and grounders with ease and Simmons looked smooth at first. Nander De Sedas and Jackson Greene each were solid at their positions, possibly providing the team a look at the most optimal infield combo for the rest of the season.
With the pitching staff as good as it is, it will be crucial for the defense behind it to be solid. It doesn’t have to be spectacular, but it can’t lose games for the team as has happened a few times already this year. Against UF, Robby Martin made a great catch in right field, robbing a home run early in the game, as he slammed into the short wall at McKethan Stadium. It was a big moment in the contest early on that kept the momentum with FSU. Reese Albert also made a nice play on a ball smoked right at him in center field later in the night.
Lineup Showing Life
Florida State’s bats have had a tough start to the season, but the last two games against top-tier pitching staffs gives hope that it may soon turn around. After a 13-hit, 10-run performance against No. 10 Duke on Sunday, the Seminoles followed with nine hits against the Gators. While only scoring two runs against UF is not impressive, the offense looked potent overall. Simmons was 3 for 4 with two doubles as he continues to swing a hot bat. Martin and Mat Nelson each had two hits, while Reese Albert knocked in an RBI.
Hitting in baseball comes and goes through a series of peaks and valleys during a season – last season during FSU’s run to Omaha highlighted that. It will, however, be important for the Seminoles to find a few reliable bats on a regular basis. Nelson, Albert, and Martin are three players who have shown the ability to hit consistently in their careers and, if Simmons can emerge, FSU might have enough offense to support its top-tier pitching staff.
The box score from FSU-Florida can be viewed here in PDF format.