Thursday March 18, 2010No. 6 Baseball Hosts Miss. State To Begin SEC Play
No. 6 Florida (13-3) will begin the 30-game SEC portion of its schedule by hosting Western Division rival Mississippi State (11-6) in a weekend series at McKethan Stadium. All three games will be televised, Friday at 7 p.m. on FOX Sports Florida, Saturday at 7 p.m. on CSS (as well as on Channel 15 on Cox in Gainesville) and on Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX Sports Florida.
The Gators and Bulldogs have not met since MSU claimed two of three outings in Gainesville from March 16-18, 2007. Each team has 10 league series and misses one opponent during the regular season for two-straight years. Auburn rotated off the Gators’ schedule for 2010 and 2011.
Sophomore left-hander Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (4-0, 1.10) will start the opener against MSU freshman righty Kendall Graveman (1-0, 3.78). In his last outing, Panteliodis scattered five hits over a career-high seven innings in a 6-0 shutout of Charleston Southern. Over 16.1 innings this year, the southpaw has registered 17 strikeouts and limited opponents to a .185 batting average.
Saturday’s matchup will pit freshman lefty Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (1-1, 5.52) versus Bulldog freshman RHP Chris Stratton (2-2, 2.95). Johnson will be making his fourth start of the year and seeking to bounce back from a 3.2-inning stint in the second game against Charleston Southern last weekend.
Sophomore left-hander Nick Routt (1-1, 7.27) will start Sunday’s finale for Mississippi State against a Gator pitcher to be announced.
In the teams’ most recent series, Florida was nipped in the rubber match, 14-13, on March 18, 2007. The Gator offense certainly did its part during the series, registering a .358 (43-for-120) batting average, with 32 runs, 29 RBI, seven doubles and three homers. Entering the weekend mired in a 5-for-37 (.135) funk with zero RBI on the campaign, Brian Leclerc was a scorching 10-for-13 (.769) and drove in seven runs. Matt LaPorta went 6-for-11 (.545) versus MSU, with six runs, four walks and a pair of doubles. UF’s pitching staff compiled an 11.33 ERA over the three games. Bryan Augenstein received a no-decision on Friday after yielding eight hits and five runs, with six strikeouts, over 6.1 innings. Stephen Locke picked up his first SEC win since April 10, 2005, by working six innings on Saturday. The southpaw scattered nine hits and gave up six runs. Stephen Porter threw three frames to collect his first save of the year after being charged with Friday’s setback. Patrick Keating was on the hook for Sunday’s defeat after permitting nine hits and five runs over 2.1 innings in relief of Billy Bullock.
In their last outing, the Gators limited No. 4 Florida State to one hit over the final seven innings and overcame a pair of three-run deficits en route to an 8-5 victory in front of a season-high 4,773 fans at McKethan Stadium on Tuesday night. The win evened the season series between the Sunshine State rivals at 1-1 with meetings remaining in Jacksonville (March 30) and Tallahassee (April 13). Sophomore left-hander Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) (1-0) threw two scoreless and hitless innings to earn the win and junior southpaw Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) kept the Seminoles off the scoreboard over the final three frames to pick up his third save. Chapman has not surrendered a run in 11.2 innings spanning seven appearances and is limiting opponents to a .128 average.
Sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-3) continued his torrid stretch by driving in four runs, giving him 13 RBI over the past four games. He is hitting .383 with 15 RBI and 14 runs and enters the weekend on a five-game hitting streak. Freshman Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.) (3-for-4) matched his career high of three hits for the third time and scored a career-high three runs versus FSU. Senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (3-for-5) registered his team-leading 10th multiple-hit game and scored twice, while junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-4) belted a two-run homer in the first inning and added an RBI single in the fourth inning.
*Florida is 11-1 (.917) at home this season and is 29-5 (.853) at home in the month of March under Kevin O’Sullivan.
*Although he drove in just one run during UF’s first nine games, Tucker (.383) has tallied 13 RBI in his last four contests. He had a season-high five in the 16-10 shootout against Charleston Southern last Saturday and four in the win over Florida State to reach the century mark in his career.
*Freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (.373) is off to a terrific start to his collegiate career, leading the Gators in RBI (21) and home runs (four). He also paces the squad in slugging percentage (.627), multiple-RBI games (six) and doubles (five).
*Freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) has started all 16 games at shortstop and has yet to commit an error in 71 chances. Gator shortstops combined to make 21 errors in 2009.
*Washington (.375) is 4-for-4 in stolen-base opportunities and has a trio of three-hit outings already.
*UF’s Friday night starter, Panteliodis (4-0, 1.10), was 2-3 with a 4.76 ERA in 11 league appearances last year. The left-hander was 1-2 with a 7.80 ERA in four SEC starts, giving up 26 hits and 16 runs in 15.0 innings.
*The Gators’ Saturday starter, Johnson, will be making his league debut. The lefty from Cocoa Beach, Fla., is 1-1 with a 5.52 ERA in four appearances, with three starts. In his most recent outing, Johnson surrendered nine hits and five runs over 3.2 innings to Charleston Southern in game two of last weekend’s series but was not involved in the decision.
*After ranking 11th in the SEC last season with a .966 fielding percentage, the Orange and Blue boasts a .982 fielding clip to rank to stand atop the most recent league statistics. Florida has committed 11 errors this year and has gone seven-consecutive games without multiple miscues.
*UF’s streak of 23-consecutive stolen bases dating back to March 5 at Miami (Fla.) was snapped in the first inning on Monday night by Army. UF is 29-of-36 on the basepaths.
*den Dekker is 6-for-6 on stolen base attempts this season and is 48-for-51 in his career. He needs five thefts to pass Mark Kiger (2000-02) for 10th on the school’s all-time list.
*Florida is hitting .328 (65-for-198) against left-handers and .321 (116-for-361) against right-handers.
*The Gators have 28 doubles already and the five two-baggers versus Army were their most since five against Campbell on March 4, 2008.
*Maddox is batting .400 (18-for-45) with runners on base and occupies the top spot on the club with 11 RBI with two outs.
*den Dekker enters the Mississippi State series batting .440 (11-for-25) against left-handers and .419 (13-for-31) with runners on base.
*The Gators have a .250 (5-for-20) average when pinch-hitting. Sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) has been called upon the most and is 1-for-6 (.167).
*UF is 12-for-31 (.387) with 35 RBI and one grand slam with the bases full this year.
*Fifty-three of the squad’s 118 RBI have come with two outs, good for a .449 rate.
*With freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) starting behind the plate, Florida is 10-2 (.833).
*Florida’s seven saves this year are from four different relievers: senior Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.) (two), Chapman (three), sophomore Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) and Maronde, who rates first on the squad with 20 strikeouts in 12.0 frames.
*Opposing left-handers are 1-for-11 (.091) against Chapman and righties are 4-for-28 (.143).
*The Gators are holding foes to a .220 (39-for-177) average with two outs.
*Sophomore Justin Poovey (Granite Falls, N.C.) has made five relief appearances and has six K in 8.0 innings to go along with a 1.12 ERA.
*Freshman Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) (0-0, 1.08 ERA) threw four scoreless innings last Sunday, the longest stint of his career.
*The Gators are 10-0 this season when scoring first and are 10-1 when out-hitting their opponent.