The No. 4 Gators baseball team may be as good as it has ever been. And yet it still can't beat No. 8 Florida State regularly.
Florida fell 4-1 in Tallahassee on Tuesday night, and it wasn't a particularly valiant defeat at Dick Howser Stadium. The Gators' only run came on a single in the ninth inning by Brian Johnson — Florida State starter Hunter Scantling scattered three hits in seven scoreless innings — and Florida relievers Greg Larson and Tommy Toledo each permitted runs to score with wild pitches in the seventh inning.
Florida's offensive brownout wasted one of Alex Panteliodis' finer efforts as a starter this season. The junior, who has the highest ERA (3.62) of any Gator to start at least one game this season, went five innings, allowed one run, and struck out five Seminoles while walking none. He falls to 2-1 on the season with the loss.
More distressingly, Tuesday's loss means that Florida finished up the four-game season series with its northern rival with a woeful 1-3 mark. That record comes with caveats — Florida hasn't been a great road team this year, and did take care of business at home with a dramatic 5-4 win in 10 innings, but fell at neutral sites Tampa and Jacksonville and in Tallahassee; Florida aces Hudson Randall and Karsten Whitson didn't pitch in any of the FSU games — but it's still not what this team wanted or expected this year, especially while harboring dreams of winning the College World Series.
Now, with the Florida State series over, the Gators baseball team is hitting the heart of its SEC schedule, and playing a series of lesser-regarded in-state teams (UCF, Bethune-Cookman, UNF, Jacksonville) in one-off midweek games. Florida next plays this Friday at Georgia, and next plays at McKethan Stadium on April 22 against Alabama.