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Friday February 19, 2010No. 7 Baseball Downs USF On Opening Night, 6-2

Gainesville, Fla.

Junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) powered No. 7 Florida to a 6-2 victory over USF in front of 3,309 fans at McKethan Stadium in the season opener for both teams on Friday. The two-time All-SEC second baseman was a perfect 3-for-3 with four RBI, a pair of home runs and a double. In his collegiate debut, freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) went 2-for-4 and blasted a two-run homer on the first swing of his Gator career. Making his return to the lineup after missing the 2009 campaign, redshirt sophomore right-hander Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) scattered three hits, registered four strikeouts and allowed an unearned run in 3.1 innings.

 

“It was good to get Tommy back after 16 months,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan acknowledged. “I thought he did really well considering this was the first game of the year, and he had to deal with the jitters. He will be better his next time out. The damage that was done was his own doing with the walks and the hit batters, but it was great to see him out there. Alex Panteliodis did a nice job getting the double-play ball when he came into the game and Greg Larson also pitched well during his 2.1 innings.”

 

“We’re getting used to playing with each other,” Adams said. “Our energy was high out there and it was our first game. Not everything is rolling like it should be but we are going to come out tomorrow and everything will be fine. The first homer felt good and I had goose bumps running around the bases. It’s just one of those things to spark the team and had us going a little bit. It was nice to come out in the first game and do that.”

 

The Gators jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in their first at bat of the season, courtesy of two-run homers by Adams and Maddox. Senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) led off with a single into right center off USF junior Randy Fontanez (0-1) and Adams belted a 3-1 offering into the left-field bleachers to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games and open the scoring. Sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) drew his first of two walks on the night and Maddox cranked a two-run jack high over the wall in right center for the 4-0 margin.

 

Discussing Maddox’s home run, O’Sullivan said, “That ball was hit hard and was impressive for his first college at bat to run into a ball like that. You do not see many balls get out of here to right center in that much of a hurry. I also have to tip my hat to (Randy) Fontanez, he is a really good pitcher. That was a great test for our guys tonight and I thought they did really well.”

 

USF threatened in the second by loading the bases with two down against Toledo. Sophomore Daniel Rockhold drew a one-out free pass and junior Eric Sim was hit by a pitch before a sacrifice attempt by sophomore Luis Llerena was popped up to freshman catcher Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.). Junior Ryan Lockwood’s infield single filled the bags before Toledo made junior Jonathan Koscso his third strikeout victim to end the stanza.

 

Florida had runners on the corners with one down in the third but was held at bay by Fontanez. Adams started the inning with a walk but was forced at second base on a fielder’s choice by Tucker. Maddox collected his second hit of the game with a seeing-eye single to push Tucker to third before the USF right-hander countered with a strikeout of sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) and had sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) ground out. 

 

Working on pitch count, Toledo departed after 3.1 innings in which he allowed three hits and an unearned run, with four strikeouts, two walks and two hit batters. Sophomore Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (1-0) induced an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play on the first pitch he threw to Lockwood to preserve UF’s three-run advantage.

 

On making his first start since injury, Toledo said, “It was pretty exciting. Although I had a little bit of jitters, I was glad to get out there to represent the team and am glad Coach O’Sullivan gave me the chance to do that. It was my first time out there in awhile and I’m excited how it went and it was a good win.”

 

The Bulls closed to within 4-2 in the fifth on an RBI double by sophomore Sam Mende that scored junior Stephen Hunt (2-for-5) all the way from first base. However, Mende was gunned down by Zunino attempting to swipe third base and Panteliodis later finished the inning with a punch-out of junior Junior Carlin.

 

Adams led off the home part of the inning with his second round-tripper of the night to deep left field to give the hosts a 5-2 lead. It was the junior’s fourth career multiple-homer outing, first since swatting a pair at Auburn on April 11 of last season.      

 

The Bulls had a runner in scoring position in the seventh on a one-out double by Koscso. Panteliodis struck out the final batter he faced, Hunt, before giving way to sophomore Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.), who fanned Mende to end the inning. Over a 3.1-inning stint out of the bullpen, Panteliodis surrendered three hits and one run, with three K to earn the decision.

 

In the bottom of the inning, Adams rifled a two-out RBI double to right field to plate den Dekker for a 6-2 lead and end the night for Fontanez. Over 6.2 innings, the 2010 Big East Preseason Pitcher of the Year yielded seven hits and six runs, with five strikeouts and three walks. Senior Teddy Kaufman tossed 1.1 scoreless innings to close the game for the Bulls. Larson totaled two K and allowed one hit in 2.1 shutout innings to collect his first career save for Florida. The Gators held an 8-7 advantage in hits, as Adams, den Dekker (2-for-4) and Maddox each notched multiple-hit efforts.  

 

In a matchup of freshmen on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., Florida left-hander Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) will oppose Bulls’ right-hander Ray Delphey.   

         

Game Notes

·          The Gators improved to 55-40-1 (.578) on opening day, including 35-20-1 (.634) at home.

·          Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is 3-0 in season openers.

·          Florida has now taken its last five meetings against USF to equal its longest winning streak against the Bulls.

·          Matt den Dekker increased his hitting streak to 10 games with a first-inning single, his career high of 13 games was done twice, most recently between April 26-May 21, 2008.

·          The four-run outburst in the opening frame was the Gators’ highest since plating five runs against Miami (Fla.) in the NCAA Gainesville Regional on May 31, 2009.

·          Tommy Toledo’s four strikeouts were one shy of his career high set against Siena in his first career start on Feb. 24, 2008.

·          The Gator pitching staff had nine strikeouts and issued three walks.

·          Florida’s starting lineup featured four newcomers: Nolan Fontana (SS), Austin Maddox (DH), Bryson Smith (3B) and Mike Zunino (C).

-UF-

 

 

 

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