Back in Jax: Florida, Florida State resume their college baseball rivalry at 121 Financial Ballpark

Teams play in Jacksonville for the first time since 2019 after games were canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic

Garry Smits
Florida Times-Union
Florida State's DJ Stewart runs to first base as Florida pitcher Danny Young (15) and first baseman Zack Powers (5) try to get control of the ball during a 2014 game in Jacksonville. The subsequent collision triggered a bench-clearing incident between the two teams.
  • Florida will play Florida State for the 254th time on Tuesday at 121 Financial Ballpark
  • The Gators are 7-6 vs. the Seminoles in Jacksonville
  • Both teams are coming off lopsided conference losses on Sunday

Florida vs. Florida State baseball is back in Jacksonville after a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two rivals will play for the 254th time overall and the 14th time in Jacksonville since 2007 on Tuesday at 121 Financial Ballpark, with the first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.

Both teams are coming off losses in home conference games on Sunday, and it wasn’t pretty in either case as they fell by the same score of 11-2. FSU (16-7, 6-3) won the first two games of the series, 4-0 and 7-2; while UF (17-7, 3-3) was routed in two games by the Tigers after winning the series opener 7-2.

The Seminoles rose to fifth on the NCAA D1 Baseball rankings, while the Gators dropped from eighth to 14th.

They were due to have played in Gainesville on March 15 but it was rained out. That means for the first time in history, UF and FSU will play each for the first time in a season in Jacksonville.

Florida's last game in Jacksonville:Gators belt three homers, get solid pitching-by-committee and defense to roll past UNF 11-2

FSU's last game in Jacksonville:Early classic: JU pitching, botched FSU safety squeeze in ninth enable Dolphins to edge 'Noles

Florida vs. Florida State ticket information

Gators outfielder Jud Fabian (4) heads for homer after hitting his second home run of the night against Bethune-Cookman, Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at Florida Ballpark, in Gainesville, Florida. The Gators won 3-2. [Cyndi Chambers/Special to the Sun] 2022

One characteristic of the rivalry in Jacksonville is that the games are usually low-scoring. Since the series began with a 16-7 Florida victory in 2007, followed by a 10-2 FSU rout in 2008, neither team has scored more than eight runs in a game and they have combined to score five or less runs in seven of the last 11 games.

The Gators and 'Noles have split two 3-2 outcomes — FSU won 2-1 in 2013 and Florida won 1-0 in 2018.

The last time they played in Jacksonville was March 26, 2010, a 4-2 victory for the Gators.

Fans of both teams have usually guaranteed a strong turnout at the 11,000-capacity home of the Triple-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. A sellout crowd of 12,280 jammed the park for the first meeting in 2007 and it has never dipped below 6,251. The game averages 9,166.

Top-five UF-FSU games in Jacksonville

2014, UF 4, FSU 1: The most memorable game in the rivalry was an incident late in the game that shook up a rather humdrum pitching duel. During the top of the eighth inning with the Gators leading 3-0, FSU's DJ Stewart of Yulee, who played high school baseball at Bolles, plowed into UF pitcher Danny Young, who was trying to field a slow roller Stewart hit down the line.

Florida State's Jamies Winston (center) is held by by a Jacksonville Sherrif's Officer during a bench-clearing incident in a 2014 baseball game between the Seminoles and the Florida Gators in Jacksonville.

Stewart knocked the ball loose and was safe but UF first baseman Zack Powers chest-bumped Stewart, who then shoved Powers. Before anyone knew it, it was an old-fashion, benches-clearing incident that has been termed a "brawl" but didn't quite live up to that description.

One enduring image was Jameis Winston, FSU's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback of the previous fall, charging from the bench to get in the middle of the fray, and pulled away by a Jacksonville Sheriff's deputy.

Stewart, Young and Powers were all ejected and Stewart and Powers served four-game suspensions. In the bottom of the eighth, Florida's Justin Shafter also was thrown out when he kicked FSU catcher Danny De La Calle after scoring.

2007, Florida 16, FSU 7: The first game in Jacksonville was an offensive display in which the Gators led 10-2 after a seven-run second. Buster Posey got FSU off to a nice enough start with a two-run homer in the top of the first but Matt LaPorta hit a pair of three-run homers in the first and second innings and Austin Pride delivered a grand-slam homer in the second. Matt den Dekker added another homer for the Gators in the fifth. The Seminoles were ranked No. 1 in the nation with a 29-3 record entering the game.

Florida first baseman Matt LaPorta, trying to make a pickoff attempt on Florida State's Ohmed Danesh during their 2007 game at 121 Financial Ballpark, hit two three-run homers in the game to lead the Gators; 16-7 victory.

2018, Florida 1, FSU 0: This game was memorable for its short duration. In an era when four-hour college baseball games are common, three Gator pitchers were responsible for ending the game in only two hours, six minutes. Jack Leftwich, Jordan Butler and Michael Byrne held the 'Noles to three hits, two walks and struck out 10. Andrew Karp threw a rare complete game for FSU, allowing four hits and striking out seven in eight innings.

2015, FSU 8, Florida 3: DJ Stewart hit an RBI double and a sacrifice fly in the last game he would play in Jacksonville, and John Sansone went 4 for 4 as the 'Noles won their sixth of nine games at 121 Financial Ballpark. Stewart also kept his cool when Alex Faedo hit him with a pitch in his first at-bat in the first inning, a clear message about the 2014 incident. Stewart trotted to first without incident and doubled on his next trip to the plate.

2019, Florida 4, FSU 2: Brady McConnell's two-run double highlighted a three-run seventh inning for the Gators that rallied them from a 2-1 deficit and spoiled FSU coach Mike Martin's final game in Jacksonville after he was given the key to the city by Mayor Lenny Curry. Mike Salvatore gave the 'Noles their lead with a two-run homer in the sixth.

Five Florida players to watch

Coby Halter, sophomore 2B: The Bishop Kenny graduate is hitting .323 with five homers, 13 RBI and a team-leading six doubles. He loves returning home: in three games in Jacksonville, two against UNF and one against JU, he's 7 for 13 (.538) with four runs and six RBI.

Jud Fabian, junior center fielder: Half of the Fabian brother act in Gainesville, Jud is tied for first in the SEC and for fifth in the nation with 10 homers, and leads UF with 26 RBI. He’s hitting .287.

Wyatt Langford, sophomore catcher/outfielder: Langford leads UF with a .360 average and has nine homers and 26 RBI.

Sterlin Thompson, sophomore right fielder: Thompson is hitting .322 with seven homers and 22 RBI. He went 4 of 8 with three RBI and a homer against LSU.

Deric Fabian, freshman third baseman: He joined his brother on the Florida roster from Ocala Trinity Christian and his hitting .274 this season. He got his first college homer against UNF and picked up his second in the second game of the LSU series.

Five Florida State players to watch

Reese Albert, senior right fielder: Leads the Seminoles with a .409 average and is second with nine doubles. He went 4 for 7 in the Duke series.

Jamie Ferrer, freshman catcher/outfielder: Went 4 for 11 against Duke and has the team lead in doubles with 10. He’s hitting .363 with five homers and 21 RBI.

James Tibbs, freshman first baseman/outfielder: Batting .314 with five homers and 14 RBI and is one of two starters to be playing error-free ball in the field this season.

Logan Lacey, senior center fielder: Leading FSU with 18 runs, and has five homers, 21 RBI and a .281 average.

Alex Torral, senior first baseman: The Seminoles’ leading power hitter this season with team highs of seven homers and 25 RBI with a .276 average.

Sunshine Showdown

No. 5 FSU (16-7) vs. No. 14 Florida (17-7)

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Where: 121 Financial Ballpark.

Tentative starters: FSU — Sophomore righthander Carson Montgomery (3-0, 2.81). UF -- Senior righthander Garrett Milchin (1-0, 1.64), sophomore righthander Nick Pogue (0-1, 7.71) or freshman righthander Tyler Nesbitt (0-0, 0.00).

Rivalry: FSU leads 130-122-1. The Gators are 7-6 in the single-game series in Jacksonville in 2007 and have won the last four. The games in Jacksonville were canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.

Notable: Florida has won 12 of the last 14 games and 17 of the last 20 against FSU. ... This will be the eighth time the Seminoles have been ranked higher than the Gators at the time of their meeting in Jacksonville. UF is 4-3 in those games and has beaten the Seminoles twice when they were ranked No. 1 in the nation by a major college baseball poll, 16-7 in 2007 and 4-1 in 2014. ... The last time the Gators played in Jacksonville, Jud and Deric Fabian combined to go 5 for 9 with three runs and four RBI in an 11-1 victory over UNF on March 1. ... FSU's last game in Jacksonville was Feb. 22. Montgomery pitched four innings of two-hit ball but the Seminoles lost to JU 3-2. … UF is coming off two losses in a row at home against LSU, getting outscored 38-8 after winning the opening game of the series 7-2. … FSU won two of three against Duke, winning 4-0 and 7-2 before falling 11-2 on Sunday. ... Possible UF starter Tyler Nesbitt has not yielded an earned run in 17.1 innings as a college pitcher. ... Jamie Ferrer's home run on Sunday against Duke marked the 12th game in a row in which an FSU player has homered, the longest streak since 2009.