Rivalry Revelry

Rivalry games abounded in college baseball on Tuesday, none better than Florida-Florida State at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The red-hot Gators ran their winning streak to eight games by clobbering the No. 2 Seminoles 16-7 in front of 12,280 fans, the largest crowd ever to attend a college baseball game in the state of Florida. That mark shattered the previous record of 8,277, set in 1986 for a Texas-Miami game. Florida senior Matt LaPorta continued his recent tear, smashing a pair of three-run homers. He’s now homered in six of Florida’s last seven games, as the Gators have swept their last two conference series on the road against Auburn and Georgia. Florida coach Pat McMahon has pushed all the right buttons to help the freshman-laden Gators rebound from an 11-13 start.

“Patrick (McMahon) has done a great job in getting this club headed in the right direction,” Seminoles coach Mike Martin said. “Moving (freshman Cole) Figueroa (to shortstop) and just making some moves in other spots have been key for them. He has done a tremendous job of getting this club in a position to make a run. Let’s put it this way: They are in the middle of their run right now and they are looking good.”

The Florida-Florida State game was played at the Double-A Jacksonville Suns’ ballpark, but there were two other big rivalry games Tuesday that also took place in minor league parks. Tulane “hosted” Louisiana State at Zephyr Field, home of the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs and temporary home of the Green Wave while Turchin Field is rebuilt. Tulane completed a season sweep of the rival Tigers, pounding out 22 hits (led by outfielder Warren McFadden’s four) in a 16-9 win in front of 9,318 fans. And Creighton played Nebraska at Rosenblatt Stadium, home of the Triple-A Omaha Royals (and that College World Series thing). The Bluejays saw their six-game winning streak end, as Nebraska scored two runs in the eighth against Creighton closer Andy Masten to secure a 12-10 win. A crowd of 6,524 showed up for that one. The Cornhuskers used two weekend starters, Drew Bowman and Charlie Shirek, and still blew a 9-0 lead before rallying to win.

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