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Sunday March 7, 2010No. 5 Florida Takes Series At No. 10 Miami, 4-2

Coral Gables, Fla.

The duo of redshirt sophomore Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) and junior Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) limited No. 10 Miami (7-3) to four hits and junior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) bashed a three-run homer to lift No. 5 Florida (7-2) to a 4-2 victory in the rubber game of the teams’ series on Sunday afternoon at Alex Rodriguez Park. The Gators captured the regular-season series between the Sunshine State rivals for the first time since 2007 and took a series in Coral Gables for just the fifth time since 1960.

 

“This was a tremendous series win on the road for us,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It was great to see two guys who had tough 2009 seasons in Tommy (Toledo) and Kevin (Chapman) come through the way they did. Success is a product of hard work and we were very happy with their outings. I thought our team showed a lot of resiliency by coming back from the difficult loss last night. To beat Miami on the road is a heck of an accomplishment.”

 

Toledo (2-0), who missed last year while recovering from an injured shoulder, scattered three hits and gave up one earned run over five innings. In his third start and fourth appearance of the campaign, the righty totaled four strikeouts. Chapman recorded his second save with a career-long four-inning relief stint in which he gave up one hit with a pair of strikeouts. Smith (1-for-4) launched his second three-run homer in as many days in the fourth inning to move the Gators in front. 

 

Senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) raised his hitting streak to 18 games with a one-out single in the third off junior Eric Erickson (1-1). den Dekker moved into scoring position with his team-leading fourth stolen base, but Erickson kept the Gators off the scoreboard by retiring junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) on a grounder and sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-4) on a line drive to center field.

 

The Hurricanes grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning on an error by Smith at third base. Sophomore Nathan Melendres was hit by a pitch from Toledo to begin the frame and was sacrificed over by freshman Frankie Ratcliff. A ground ball by senior Ryan Perry eluded Smith, enabling Melendres to score the game’s initial run.

 

Smith atoned for his fielding miscue with a three-run bomb to left center in the fourth to give the Gators a 3-1 advantage. Sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) reached on a one-out error by sophomore third baseman Harold Martinez and freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (3-for-4, two runs) punched a single into right field to give Florida runners on the corners. The base-hit increased the rookie’s hitting streak to seven games and he batted a sizzling .636 (7-for-11) in the series. Smith stepped to the dish and sent a 1-1 pitch over the wall for his second homer of the weekend and the series, knocking Erickson out of the game. The left-hander allowed five hits and three runs (two runs) over 3.1 innings. Senior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach , Fla.) greeted freshman E.J. Encinosa with a double into the left-field corner and then stole third base. The reliever registered back-to-back strikeouts of freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) and den Dekker to hold the margin at 3-1.

 

A two-out single by UM junior Chris Pelaez (2-for-4) in the home part of the inning was the first hit surrendered by Toledo. After Martinez followed with another single into right field, Daniel Pigott made an inning-ending diving catch in right field to rob Melendres of possible extra bases.  

 

Florida expanded its lead to 4-1 in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Zunino. Fontana began the inning with a sharp single into center field and moved around the bases with thefts of both second and third. Following a walk to Jonathan Pigott, sophomore Daniel Miranda was called on to replace Encinosa (2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R). Zunino lofted the lefty’s first pitch deep enough into right field to score Fontana.

 

The Hurricanes narrowed the gap to 4-2 in the bottom of the inning on a two-out RBI single by Pelaez. Perez led off with a double to right field, ending the afternoon for Toledo. Chapman induced a grounder by senior Scott Lawson that pushed Perez to third and then fanned junior Yasmani Grandal on three pitches. Moments later, Pelaez singled to right field to reduce UM’s deficit to two runs. Although an error by second baseman Adams extended the inning, Chapman worked out of the jam by striking out Melendres.

 

The southpaw Chapman retired the first two Hurricanes in the seventh before a throwing error by Smith on a bunt by DeVoss kept the inning alive. Zunino gunned down the runner attempting to steal second to preserve the 4-2 advantage.

 

Florida held a 9-4 edge in hits and was a season-best 5-for-5 on stolen-base opportunities. The Gators return home to McKethan Stadium on Tuesday to begin a season-high 10-game homestand against Illinois State (4-5). The opener of the two-game set will begin at 6:30 p.m.

         

Game Notes

·          Since 1960, the Gators have won series in Coral Gables in 1966 (2-1), 1984 (2-1), 2002 (2-0), 2006 (3-0) and 2010 (2-1).

·          The weekend series between the Gators and Hurricanes drew 13,310 fans to Alex Rodriguez Park.

·          Florida batted .296 (32-for-108) over the three games and out-scored UM, 17-12.

·          The Gator pitching staff registered an earned run average of 2.77.

·          Preston Tucker increased his hitting streak to eight games with a first-inning single. His career high of 10 games was set from April 5-19, 2009.

·          Austin Maddox delivered a two-out single in the first to raise his hitting streak to six games and Nolan Fontana delivered a base-hit in the fourth to boost his skein to seven games.

·          Fontana also stole the first two bases of his collegiate career.

 

-UF-

 

 

 

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