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Thursday April 8, 2010No. 8 Florida Baseball Heads To Tennessee

Gainesville, Fla.

After a 12-2 mid-week victory over Jacksonville, No. 8 Florida (21-7/6-3 SEC) kicks off an eight-game road swing at Eastern Division rival Tennessee (15-15/2-7 SEC) on Friday night. This will begin the longest stretch away from Gainesville for the Gators since an eight-game journey between March 26 and April 7, 1985. UF is seeking its first series win at Lindsey Nelson Stadium since 2002, as it has dropped its last three visits in ’04, ’06 and ’08 by identical 2-1 margins.


Sophomore left-hander Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (5-1, 1.93) will start Friday’s opener at 7 p.m. against Vol junior left-hander Bryan Morgado (2-3, 5.06). Panteliodis limited No. 17 Vanderbilt to one run on seven hits and had six strikeouts in 6.1 innings last Friday night but did not receive a decision as the Gators notched a 3-2 win. Over a team-high 37.1 innings, the southpaw has 34 strikeouts and issued seven walks while limiting opponents to a .211 batting average.


Freshman Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (3-1, 3.09) will oppose UT senior righty Stephen McCray (3-3, 2.08) on Saturday at 4 p.m. in a game to be televised live on FOX Sports Florida. It can also be seen on DirecTV Channel 655 and DISH Network Channel 447. Johnson kept the Commodores off the scoreboard for the first 5.2 innings in game two of the series to improve to 2-0 in SEC action. In seven appearances, including six starts, the lefty has 20 strikeouts and issued five walks in 32.0 innings. Johnson boasts a team-leading 1.04 ERA in his three league starts against Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.


The Gators and Vols will wrap up the series on Sunday at 12:30 p.m., live on CSS and locally on Cox Channel 21 in Gainesville. Freshman right-hander Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (2-3, 4.68) will face Tennessee sophomore left-hander Steven Gruver (1-1, 5.27) in the finale. Randall will be making his 10th appearance and seventh start of the campaign and has a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio.


Rebounding from a road sweep at the hands of Arkansas that started league play last season, UF posted two come-from-behind victories, batted .351 (34-for-97) and out-scored Tennessee, 20-9, over three games held at McKethan Stadium from March 20-22, 2009. The series triumph was Florida’s first over the Vols since the 2003 season. The Gator bullpen was 3-0 with two saves and registered a 1.80 ERA on the weekend. Over 15.0 innings, the group scattered 11 hits and permitted three runs, with eight strikeouts and just one walk. Florida’s top four hitters in the lineup (Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.), Avery Barnes and Buddy Munroe) were a combined 16-for-43 (.372) with 15 runs, 14 RBI and three home runs versus UT.


Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning in game one, den Dekker clubbed a two-run shot off Nick Hernandez for a dramatic 3-2 win. Until the series opener, the Gators had been 0-25 under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan when trailing after seven innings. Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.) had an impressive SEC starting debut, totaling a career-high nine strikeouts over a season-best 6.2 innings.


All nine starters had at least one hit as UF clinched the series with a 10-2 victory on Saturday afternoon. Munroe (3-for-4) had a career-high four RBI and Barnes drove in three runs as part of a 16-hit outburst for the Orange and Blue. Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.) captured the first SEC win of his career with 3.2 scoreless and hitless innings.


Barnes broke a 4-4 tie with a seventh-inning triple on Sunday to complete the sweep with a 7-5 triumph as the Gators overcame a pair of three-run deficits. Barnes (2-for-4) collected two RBI and Adams went 3-for-5 to complete a series in which he batted .500 (6-for-12) and scored four runs. Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) earned his first collegiate victory with 1.1 scoreless innings in the finale, while Billy Bullock nailed down the final two outs for his fourth save, second of the series.


In its last trip to Knoxville, Florida dropped its first SEC series of the season over April 5-6, 2008, by falling twice in three games at Tennessee. The Vols came from behind to take the first two matchups, 5-4 and 12-6, before the Gators avoided the sweep with a 7-2 victory. The highlight of the weekend was UF’s second triple play of the season, which came in the fifth inning of game three with the bases full of Vols and none out. Southpaw Stephen Locke had Jeff Lockwood line into a 4-6-3 triple play that kept the Gators ahead by a 6-2 score. Right-hander Patrick Keating improved to 5-0 and Locke collected his first career save. Barnes was a perfect 3-for-3 with three runs and belted a solo homer in the win. He was 6-for-12 (.500) with five runs and five RBI in the series and shortstop Cole Figueroa batted .364 (4-for-11). The Gators scored in the first inning of all three games. Bullock received a no-decision in the series opener after going six innings and allowing three runs and a pair of runs. Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) suffered the loss after yielding six hits and seven runs (one earned) over 4.1 IP in the second game.


Series Tidbits

*Florida leads the all-time series, 134-76.

*The Gators have faced UT 97 times in Knoxville and has registered 56 wins.

*The teams have split the past 18 contests at Tennessee during the past six series.

*The Vols have claimed five of the last six regular-season series after the Gators had reeled off six series wins in seven years.

*Dating back to 1986, the winner of the opener between the Gators and Vols has gone on to take the regular-season series 21 of 24 times (exceptions: 2000, UF wins last two; 1995, UT wins last two; 1990, UF wins last two).

*The last extra-inning encounter occurred on April 13, 2002, when Florida used a two-run double in the 10th frame by David Klebonis to seize an 8-5 road win.

*There has not been a shutout in the series since the Gators blanked the Vols, 7-0, in Knoxville on March 21, 1987.

*The last one-run contest was a 3-2 UF victory in last season’s series opener.

*Kevin O’Sullivan is 4-2 (.667) against UT, 1-2 (.333) at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.


Playing their final home game until April 23, the Gators used a four-run second and a five-run sixth to cruise past Jacksonville, 12-2, on Tuesday night. Senior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) each chipped in with two-run triples as the Gators tallied 14 hits, scored 10 runs with two out and their bullpen ended the game with six scoreless innings.


Making just his second career start and first appearance since March 24, Larson (1-0) gave up three hits and a couple of unearned runs over three innings and matched his season high of two strikeouts. Sophomore Justin Poovey (Granite Falls, N.C.) (2.0 IP, 1 H, 4 K), sophomore Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) (2.0 IP, 1 H, 2 K), freshman Ben Brown (Winter Haven, Fla.) (1.0 IP, 1 K) and junior Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) (1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 K) followed on the mound and combined to keep the Dolphins off the scoreboard.


Freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) was 2-for-2 and scored a career-high three runs, Johnson (2-for-5) collected the first two RBI of his career, highlighted by his first homer in the seventh, while Adams was 2-for-3.


Fontana has started all 28 games at shortstop and has yet to make an error in 116 chances. Not only is he hitting .300 overall, the rookie is second on the team in walks (22) and on-base percentage (.457).


While Florida has grown accustomed to being successful on its own turf, it is 3-5 (.375) away from Gainesville this season. UF dropped a pair of neutral-site games to Florida State in Tampa (March 2) and Jacksonville (March 30) and fell twice in three outings at Ole Miss between March 26-28. Tennessee sports an 11-8 (.579) mark at Lindsey Nelson Stadium following Wednesday’s 14-9 loss to Western Carolina.


Gator Bytes

*Florida has already faced three of the top four strikeout artists in the SEC: Drew Pomeranz (65) and Aaron Barrett (53) of Ole Miss and Sonny Gray (46) of Vanderbilt. Tennessee junior Bryan Morgado rates third in the league with 49 K.

*Freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) continues to lead the Gator offense in batting average (.356), slugging percentage (.610), RBI (34), multiple-hit games (14), multiple-RBI games (10), doubles (nine) and homers (seven).

*den Dekker (.336) holds team highs in runs (34), stolen bases (10-for-13) and triples (two) and has a .433 (13-for-30) average with two outs.

*After den Dekker occupied the position for the first 24 contests, Fontana has batted in the leadoff spot for the past four games and has gone 2-for-12 (.167) with four walks, two RBI, one hit-by-pitch and a strikeout.

*The only constant in Florida’s lineup this season has been sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (.359, 22 RBI) batting third and Maddox in the clean-up role.

*A two-time All-SEC selection, Adams is 4-for-31 (.129) with one RBI to begin league activity.

*Eight of UF’s 21 wins are of the come-from-behind variety. The Gators overcame an 8-0 deficit in the second inning to post a 13-8 win against FGCU on March 24. UF also trailed 8-0 at No. 6 Georgia in third inning on May 1, 2009, before notching a 10-9 victory in 11 innings.

*The Gator bullpen is 8-1 with nine saves and a 4.12 earned run average. Florida is 18-0 when leading after six innings and 20-0 when ahead after the seventh.

*UF’s nine saves this year are from four different relievers: Barfield (two), Chapman (five), Larson and sophomore Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.).

*Opposing left-handers are 2-for-21 (.095) against Chapman and righties are 13-for-55 (.236). Leadoff hitters have not reached base in nine opportunities against freshman Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.).

*UF’s pitching staff has held opponents under six runs 21 times and the Orange and Blue is 19-2 (.905) in those games. Florida’s ERA in overall games is 3.80 and it has a 3.99 ERA in nine SEC outings.

*Twelve of den Dekker’s 20 RBI this year have come with two outs, while Maddox leads the club with 15 RBI with two down.

*UF holds a 193-121 advantage on the scoreboard, featuring a 40-12 disparity in the sixth inning and a 23-7 edge in the fourth stanza.

*The Gators are 14-1 (.933) when scoring first, compared to 7-6 (.538) when their opponent breaks the ice. UF is 6-1 (.857) when scoring in the first inning, compared to 1-4 (.200) when its foe plates a run in the opening frame.




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