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Saturday February 20, 2010All-Around Efforts Lead No. 7 Baseball Over USF, 9-1

Gainesville, Fla.

No. 7 Florida (2-0) clinched its season-opening weekend series with a 9-1 victory over USF (0-2) on Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 3,723 fans at McKethan Stadium. Freshman left-hander Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) tossed 5.2 scoreless innings in his collegiate debut to pick up the win, while sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) (2-for-5) had a career-high four RBI, highlighted by a bases-clearing double in the eighth inning. Freshmen Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.) and Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) belted solo homers in the triumph for the Orange and Blue.


 “I can’t say that I’m surprised by what Brian Johnson did today because he’s been doing that to our hitters,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He earned that start today and he was as good as advertised. He kept his emotions under control and kept throwing strikes. We’re lucky to have him.”


“It was close to what I expected,” Johnson said. “Everything went really well and I’m happy with how Mike (Zunino) called the game. I was more excited than nervous. We’ve been practicing every day so I wasn’t too nervous at all. You’re going to remember your first game for a long time and I’m glad I’ve already got one under my belt.”


USF junior Ryan Lockwood started the game with an infield single on the initial pitch and moved into scoring position on a grounder by junior Jonathan Koscso. However, Johnson stranded the runner by inducing back-to-back groundouts by junior Stephen Hunt and sophomore Sam Mende.


The Gators loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning but came away empty-handed against freshman Ray Delphey (0-1). Senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (2-for-4) extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a leadoff double and junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) and sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-3) followed with walks to load the bases. Delphey caught Maddox looking on strikes, retired Thompson on an infield fly and fanned junior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) to keep the contest scoreless.


UF missed another chance to break the ice in the second. Freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) drew a one-out walk and freshman Mike Zunino’s (Cape Coral, Fla.) fly ball to right field was misplayed for a two-base error by Hunt, resulting in runners on second and third. Delphey worked out of trouble again by striking out den Dekker and Adams.


Thompson stroked an RBI single into right field with one down in the third to give Florida a 1-0 lead. Tucker poked a single through the left side for his first hit of the season and went to second on a wild pitch. Thompson drove in his first run of the year with base-hit but was then thrown out trying to steal second base. Delphey notched his sixth strikeout by setting down Smith.   


The hosts plated two runs in the fourth to move in front by a 3-0 count and a spectacular defensive play by Lockwood prevented even further damage. Washington made his first career hit one to remember with a homer to start the frame. UF’s fourth round-tripper of the series cleared the right-field fence just above the outstretched arms of Hunt. Soon after, Fontana earned his second walk of the afternoon and took second on a wild pitch by Delphey. A grounder by den Dekker pushed Fontana to third and a throwing error by third baseman Koscso on Adams’ ground ball enabled the Gators to build a three-run margin. Tucker singled into left for a pair of runners on base and Lockwood robbed Maddox of three-run homer to straightaway center field with a highlight reel grab to hold the Bulls’ deficit at three runs. 


Johnson departed after 5.2 scoreless innings in which he allowed three singles, with three strikeouts and zero walks. The lefty threw 65 pitches, 51 of which were strikes. Freshman Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) was greeted by a two-out knock up the middle by Mende (2-for-4) but then had a grounder by sophomore Todd Brazeal force the runner at second to end the inning.


After a five-inning stint in which he gave up five hits, two earned runs and recorded eight strikeouts, Delphey was replaced on the mound by redshirt freshman Kyle Parker. Fontana drew his third walk to start the frame and scored all the way from first base on a double by Zunino to give UF a 4-0 cushion. Despite being thrown out trying to take third base on the play, Zunino collected his first career hit and RBI.   


Maddox launched his second homer in as many games to begin the home part of the seventh for a 5-0 Gator lead. The Eagle’s View Academy product sent a 1-0 offering from Parker out of the yard in right field to match Adams for the squad’s top spot.


Randall yielded one hit over 1.1 scoreless innings before junior Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) took the hill and kept the Bulls off the board in the eighth. In the bottom of the inning, the Gators erupted for four runs on three hits to put the game out of reach. den Dekker poked a one-out single and Adams walked before a wild pitch by freshman Austin Adams put both runners in scoring position. A free pass to Tucker filled the bags and prompted another pitching change. Senior Joe Cole struck out Maddox and Thompson cleared the bases with a three-run double into the gap in right center to balloon the margin to 8-0. Sophomore Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) delivered a pinch-hit RBI single into center field for a nine-lead.


USF averted the shutout in the ninth on a two-out RBI single by sophomore Andrew Longley off freshman Michael Heller (Bradenton, Fla.). Redshirt freshman Sean Buckley had kept the game alive with a pinch-hit double before Longley’s single finalized the margin at 9-1. The Gators held a 10-7 advantage in hits, five that went for extra bases.

The teams will wrap up the series tomorrow at noon, when sophomore right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) faces USF junior southpaw Andrew Barbosa.


Game Notes

·          Florida’s sixth-straight win over USF is now the longest in the series, which the Gators lead, 47-23.

·          In addition to freshman LHP Brian Johnson, freshman right fielder Kamm Washington also drew his first career start and freshmen right-handers Hudson Randall and Michael Heller made their collegiate debuts.

·          Both Washington (today) and Austin Maddox (Friday) belted home runs for their first collegiate hits.

·          Nolan Fontana was the first Gator to draw three walks in a game since Preston Tucker versus Southern Miss on June 7, 2009.

·          Josh Adams’ career-best hitting streak of 14 games was snapped with a 0-for-3 outing, although he had two walks.

·          Tyler Thompson’s previous career high of three runs batted in came against Kentucky on May 16, 2009.



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