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Thursday March 4, 2010No. 5 Baseball Heads To No. 10 Miami

Gainesville, Fla.

Sunshine State foes No. 5 Florida (5-1) and No. 10 Miami (6-1) will meet three times this weekend in Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables. Friday and Saturday’s games will be at 7 p.m., while Sunday’s finale will be televised live on FOX Sports Florida at 3 p.m.

 

Both teams competed at the inaugural Florida Four Tourney held at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa on Tuesday night, with opposite results. In the first game of the day, the Hurricanes banged out 13 hits in a 15-2 romp over USF. The Gators suffered their first loss of the season in the nightcap to No. 3 Florida State, 10-5.

 

Sophomore Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (2-0, 2.45) will oppose Hurricane junior Chris Hernandez (1-0, 1.64) in a matchup of left-handers to begin the series. Panteliodis has picked up wins in both of his appearances this year out of the bullpen, covering 3.2 innings.

 

Freshman Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (1-0, 2.84) will start for the Gators on Saturday night against a Miami pitcher to be announced. Johnson tossed 5.2 scoreless innings in his first collegiate start against USF on Feb. 20 and has struck out four batters in 6.1 innings this season.

 

Redshirt sophomore Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) (1-0, 2.08) will make his third start of the season to wrap up the series on Sunday versus a Hurricane hurler to be announced. Over 8.2 innings of work, the right-hander has a team-leading 12 K in 8.2 innings and is limiting opponents to a .212 clip.

 

The squads met five times on the diamond last season, all at McKethan Stadium. Miami swept the three regular-season meetings between Feb. 27-March 1 by scores of 8-5, 2-1 and 16-2. UF rebounded during the NCAA Gainesville Regional, winning 8-2 and 16-5 to end UM’s season.

 

Playing as the visiting team in the second meeting with Miami on May 31, 2009, the Gators shot out of the gates with five runs on five hits off in the top of the first inning and finished with 22 hits, the most under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan and a figure which matched the most in school history during an NCAA Tournament game. All nine starters contributed at least one hit and eight players chipped in with multiple-hit efforts during the 16-5 triumph.

 

The 11-run victory was the largest margin for the Gators in an NCAA Tournament game since a 23-3 victory over Notre Dame on June 5, 2005, at the NCAA Gainesville Regional and was also the team’s largest victory ever against UM in the NCAA Tourney.

     

Holding a 7-1 advantage, Florida sent 12 batters to the plate in the fifth inning and tallied seven runs on nine hits to put the contest firmly out of reach. Not only did Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) and Josh Adams (Jacksonville , Fla.) belt back-to-back homers, the Gators had a stretch of seven two-out hits in a row to balloon their lead to 14-1.

     

Perhaps lost in the shuffle of the offensive numbers put up on the board was the strong performance of UF’s relievers, which tossed 4.1 scoreless frames. The Regional championship marked the first time in 11 attempts that Florida emerged victorious when Miami was part of the field.

 

Behind 7.1 strong innings from left-hander Stephen Locke and a four-run third inning, Florida downed UM, 8-2, in a winner’s bracket game at the NCAA Gainesville Regional on May 30. Locke held the Hurricanes to six singles and two runs (zero earned), with three strikeouts and a walk. The southpaw was supported by a balanced offense that totaled 10 hits, three doubles and a solo homer by Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach , Fla.), who was 2-for-5 and scored twice.

 

After starting the ’09 campaign with five-straight wins, UF was swept by Miami during the teams’ last series in Gainesville. It was the Hurricanes’ first time taking all of the regular-season meetings between the rivals since 2001. It was also the Gators’ first weekend sweep on their own turf since dropping three to Georgia from April 28-30, 2006 (7-0, 9-3, 9-6). The Orange and Blue was limited to a .221 (21-for-95) batting average and was out-scored by a 26-8 margin.

 

In the series opener last February, Miami used a pair of home runs and a career-high five RBI by Jonathan Weislow to hand Florida an 8-5 defeat on Friday night. Weislow (2-for-4) cranked a game-tying two-run dinger in the fourth off Patrick Keating and moved the Hurricanes ahead with a three-run blast in the sixth. Hernandez collected the win by giving up six hits and four runs over five innings, with five strikeouts.

 

Miami right-hander David Gutierrez held the Gators scoreless for seven innings and Kyle Bellamy recorded the final two outs with the tying run on third base as the Hurricanes clinched the weekend series with a 2-1 victory on Saturday. UM used a seven-run fourth inning and a 20-hit offensive barrage to complete the sweep with a 16-2 victory on Sunday afternoon. Iden Nazario held the Orange and Blue scoreless until the sixth inning and allowed just two hits to earn the win.

 

In UF’s most recent trip to Coral Gables, a tie-breaking grand slam in the eighth inning by Cole Figueroa on Sunday, March 2, 2008, salvaged the finale of Florida’s weekend trip. UF used two scoreless innings apiece from RHP Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.) and Locke to emerge victorious. Toledo made the first road start of his career and scattered four hits and two runs over five innings but was not involved in the decision. The win was the Gators’ first over a ranked foe under O’Sullivan. Florida hit .184 (18-for-98) during the series with Miami and its pitching staff registered a 3.60 ERA. Third baseman Jon Townsend led the Gators with a .375 (3-for-8) performance during the series, while Figueroa (.231) drove in seven runs. In game two, UM overcame deficits of 3-0 and 5-2 and capitalized on five Gator errors to post an 8-5 win. Pigott belted his first homer of the year with a two-run shot in the seventh to pull UF within 7-4 in Friday’s opener.

 

A seven-run first inning powered Florida State to a 10-5 victory over No. 5 Florida on Tuesday. The Seminoles exploded out of the gates with seven runs on six hits and two hit batters in the first inning, chasing sophomore starter Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) (0-1).

     

Freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) belted his first career homer in third inning to put the Gators on the board and UF rallied in the ninth with four runs on six hits to reduce the deficit to five runs. FSU closer Daniel Bennett had sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) pop up with the bases full to end the game. One positive was that Florida did not commit any errors for the second-straight game and the third time this season and its bullpen totaled 10 strikeouts.

 

Senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) poked an RBI single with two outs in the ninth against Florida State to raise his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games. The Gator center fielder is 23-for-65 (.354) with 14 RBI and 12 runs during the skein. He leads Florida with a .448 average, has scored seven runs and tallied six RBI.

 

Gator Bytes

*This will be Florida’s first road series of the season. The Gators were 12-12 (.500) away from Gainesville last season and were 2-3 away from McKethan Stadium in three-game sets, with triumphs over Auburn (2-1) and Georgia (3-0) and losses to Arkansas (0-3), LSU (1-2) and Vanderbilt (1-2).

*Although UF dropped two of the three meetings to Miami in its last visit to Coral Gables, it posted a sweep on its previous trip in 2006.

*While the Gators hosted Miami five times last year, the Hurricanes had done so during the 2004 season. UM claimed two of the three matchups during the regular season and then defeated Florida twice in the NCAA Super Regional.

*The last extra-inning affair between the teams was a 2-1 UF win in 11 innings on Feb. 19, 2005.

*Friday night’s Gator starter, Panteliodis, made two appearances against the ‘Canes during his rookie season. The lefty went 5.2 innings on Feb. 28 and suffered the loss after giving up eight hits and two runs. He drew another start in the second meeting at the NCAA Gainesville Regional and worked 4.2 innings, allowing eight hits and five runs. Although he was not involved in the decision, Panteliodis matched his career best of six strikeouts and was one out shy of picking up the win.

*Tucker, who established a school record with 85 RBI last year, singled in the ninth against Florida State on Tuesday for his first RBI of 2010.

*Freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (.263) has started all six games at shortstop and has yet to commit an error in 32 chances.

*UF had not surrendered a run in the first inning during the first five games before Florida State erupted for seven in the opening stanza.

*The Gators are just 5-for-8 on the basepaths so far this season.

*The Gators are hitting .300 (27-for-90) against left-handers and .357 (46-for-129) against right-handers.

*Both Adams and den Dekker are hitting .417 (5-for-12) with runners on base.

*UF is 2-for-13 (.154) with the bases loaded this year.

*Twenty-two of the squad’s 44 RBI have come with two outs, paced by the duo of den Dekker and sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.), which has driven in five runs apiece.

*Opposing lefties are 0-for-5 against junior southpaw Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) and opponents are 0-for-5 with runners on base versus freshman lefty Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.).

*Former Gator catcher Joe Mercandante is in his sixth 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.

*Miami leads the all-time series, 123-95-1, including 76-35 in Coral Gables.

*The Hurricanes hold a 6-4 advantage in the last 10 meetings.

 

-UF-

 

 

 

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