Florida (5-0) will make
its first road trip of the season this weekend when it heads to Coral Gables to face No. 8 Miami (Fla.) (3-0). The Gators claimed both ends of
a doubleheader on Wednesday against Eastern Michigan, 15-2 (7) and 16-8, while
the Hurricanes kicked off their season by sweeping Cincinnati (3-1, 6-4, 8-0) last weekend.
Sophomore right-hander Kyle
Fla.) will start Friday’s
opener at 7 p.m. against UM sophomore lefty Eric Erickson (1-0, 1.50 ERA). In
his last outing, Mullaney did not receive a decision
after yielding nine hits and six runs on opening night against Siena on Feb. 22.
In Saturday’s second game at Mark Light Field at 7 p.m.,
junior RHP Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) (1-0, 0.00) will oppose Miami
senior right-hander Enrique Garcia (0-0, 2.25). Keating combined with three
relievers on a six-hit shutout of Siena
last Saturday by scattering five hits and notching four strikeouts over 5.1
Freshman Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.)
(1-0, 3.60), coming off a five-inning stint last Sunday in which he captured
his collegiate debut, will start Sunday’s finale at 1 p.m. against Hurricane
rookie southpaw Chris Hernandez (1-0, 0.00). The game will be carried live on
The Gators have captured the last three regular-season series
against the ‘Canes and also put together a stretch of seven-straight wins
between Feb. 19, 2005-Feb. 18, 2007 that was their longest in a series which
dates back to 1940. Florida collected 2-1
series triumphs in Gainesville
in 2005 and 2007 and won all three meetings in its most recent visit to Mark
Light Field in ’06.
Hosting Eastern Michigan in a
double-dip on Wednesday, the Gators totaled 31 runs, 30 hits, 17 walks, 12
extra-base hits (five 2B, four HR, three 3B) and 10 stolen bases in downing the
Eagles twice. UF banged out 18 hits in six at bats to cruise to a 15-2 win in
the opener and then had 12 hits and 12 walks during a 16-8 victory in the
With a sizzling .441 (30-for-68) average during the two games,
there were many contributors to the Orange and Blue’s
victories. Junior Avery Barnes (High
Springs, Fla.) (6-for-9) and sophomore Jonathan Pigott
(Ormond Beach, Fla.) (4-for-6) tied for the top
spot with a .667 clip, while Barnes and sophomore Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.)
scored six runs apiece. Eight players had at least two hits and the Gators
scored at least four runs in five different frames.
After sitting out the Siena series,
sophomore Matt den Dekker (Ft.
wasted little time in making an immediate impact. The center fielder
established a career high by driving in six runs in Wednesday’s opener,
highlighted by his first career grand slam in the second inning and a two-run
single in the fifth.
In his first start of the campaign to begin the twinbill with EMU, junior Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.)
worked five innings and registered four strikeouts while giving up four hits
and two runs. The left-hander fanned the first two batters of the game to equal
his season-high for K in 2007 and his four punchouts
were his most since seven against Arkansas
during the SEC Tournament on May 25, 2005.
A 2.1-inning relief stint, in which he permitted two hits and a
pair of unearned runs, resulted in junior J.K. LaCoste
(Jacksonville, Fla.) picking up his first victory since March 8, 2006
versus UNC Greensboro. He added a career-high three strikeouts in his longest
outing since going three innings in the 2006 season finale at home versus LSU. LaCoste made eight appearances out of the bullpen last
season but did not receive any decisions.
The Gator bullpen has worked 22.0 of the pitching staff’s 43.0
innings this season and has compiled a 0.41 earned run average with 20
strikeouts and nine walks. Opponents are hitting .156 against Florida’s relievers.
Florida’s 5-0 start is their best since the 2002 club reeled off 11
consecutive wins to start the campaign. The five-game winning streak is UF’s longest since an eight-game skein between March 23 and
April 6, 2007.
Last season, UF extended its winning streak over Miami to a school-record seven games before
falling in the finale, 10-7. The series victory marked the third-straight time
had defeated UM, a feat it had never accomplished. In the opener, Bryan Augenstein
to three hits and zero earned runs over seven innings and the Gators took
advantage of five errors to post a 7-2 win. The right-hander registered a
season-high seven strikeouts and Jon Townsend (London, Ky.)
(2-for-4, two runs, two RBI) snapped a scoreless tie with a home run in the
On Saturday, UF sent 10 batters to the plate during a five-run
fourth inning and used strong relief pitching to collect a 7-5 win. Keating notched his first career win,
while David Hurst picked up his
first save with 1.2 scoreless frames. Pigott
delievered a pinch-hit, two-run single as part of the
fourth-inning outburst, while Figueroa
was 2-for-5 with two RBI and Townsend chipped in with two hits.
Despite a pair of home runs and five RBI by Matt LaPorta, the Gators wound up on the
short end of a 10-7 score on Sunday afternoon.
Former Gator catcher Joe Mercandante
is in his fourth season as a member of the Hurricanes’ coaching staff. The
Gainesville native earned a couple of varsity letters at UF during the 2002-03
seasons and appeared in 37 games, with a .312 (10-for-32) average and 19 runs
batted in. Mercadante coached at his alma mater, P.K. Yonge
High School, before heading to Miami.
The Gators completed a rare brooming of Miami at Mark Light
Stadium between Feb. 17-19, 2006, by scores of 2-1, 4-1 and 11-10. UF had never
been perfect against the ‘Canes in a three-game set and became the first team
to take all three games in Coral Gables since Florida State accomplished the
feat over April 12-14, 2002. In addition, UF was undefeated in the season
series versus Miami for just the sixth time
following 2-0 triumphs in 1948 (Gainesville),
1954 (Coral Gables), 1956 (Coral
Gables), 1976 (Gainesville) and 1978