Wednesday April 21, 2010No. 7 Baseball Out-Slugs USF, 18-8
No. 7 Florida (26-10) used a seven-run first inning to set the tone for its 18-8 victory over USF (17-20) in front an overflow record crowd of 2,517 fans at Red McEwen Field on Wednesday night. Freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (2-for-3) belted a pair of solo shots as part of season-high four-homer barrage for the Gators, which claimed all four encounters with the Bulls this year. Florida tallied a season-high 18 runs and pounded out 17 hits in defeating USF for the eighth-straight time.
UF’s first seven hitters reached base and head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s club batted around in the first inning en route to a 7-0 lead on five hits, three walks and a hit by pitch. Freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (1-for-2, four runs, four walks) drew a leadoff walk from sophomore Kyle Parker (0-2) and senior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-7, three RBI, two runs) followed with a two-run blast to left field. It was his second homer of the season and second in the last four games. Sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (3-for-6, three runs) then belted his seventh homer of the campaign to straightaway center field, marking the slugger’s third-straight contest with a round-tripper. He also extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games. After a walk to freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (1-for-5, three RBI, two runs), Parker was replaced by junior Kyle Eastham. Sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach , Fla.) (3-for-4, two runs) singled into left field and junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) made it six-consecutive Gators to reach with a walk that loaded the bases. Junior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) boosted the lead to 5-0 with a two-run single up the middle and Zunino was hit by a pitch with one down to fill the bags. Fontana stroked a two-run single through the right side of the infield to bring across two more runs.
The Bulls got on the board with two runs on three hits off senior Chas Spottswood (Key West, Fla.) (1-0) in the second for a 7-2 margin. Sophomore Daniel Rockhold opened the inning with a single into left that raised his hitting streak to 11 games and junior Junior Carlin legged out a bunt for two runners aboard. Redshirt sophomore Todd Brazeal (3-for-3, three RBI) roped an RBI double down the left-field line to score Rockhold and leave the hosts with two runners in scoring position. Redshirt sophomore Luis Llerena dragged a sacrifice bunt up the first-base line that drove in Carlin.
Florida added two more runs in the third to build a 9-2 lead. Zunino started the frame by cranking his fourth homer of the season to deep left, marking the fourth game in a row that Florida had three round-trippers. Tucker ripped a two-out triple off the right-field wall, his first three-bagger of the year, to prompt another pitching change, as Eastham (2.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R) was replaced by junior Jimmy Moran. The righty uncorked an errant pitch to the backstop that allowed Tucker to score.
The Gators used an RBI single by sophomore Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) in the fourth to increase their lead to 10-2. Daniel Pigott started the inning with his second triple into right center, sophomore Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) (2-for-3) drew a one-out walk and McMahan executed a hit-and-run to bring in the 10th run. Zunino delivered an apparent sacrifice fly to center field but Weitzel was called out for leaving early to end the inning with a double play.
Fontana earned a free pass to begin the fifth and Jonathan Pigott reached on an error before a fly ball to center by Tucker advanced Fontana to third. Pigott moved into scoring position with his second theft and a grounder by Maddox was misplayed by Moran, allowing Fontana to score for an 11-2 cushion.
Spottswood departed after four full innings, his longest start since going 4.1 innings against UCF on March 14, 2006. The righty gave up five hits and two runs with two strikeouts and a pair of walks. In the bottom of the fifth, a two-out, two-run single up the middle by Brazeal off sophomore Justin Poovey (Granite Falls, N.C.) narrowed the gap to 11-4.
Zunino clubbed his second homer of the night and fifth of the campaign to left center to start the seventh. After Moran (3.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R) issued Fontana’s third walk, freshman Austin Adams was summoned from the bullpen. A one-out single by Tucker left runners on the corners and a fielder’s choice by Maddox boosted the margin to 13-4.
Poovey worked 2.1 innings, allowing two hits and two runs, before giving way to sophomore Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) in the seventh. The Bulls responded with four runs without getting a hit to trim the deficit to 13-8. Maronde (4 R, 3 BB) walked Carlin and Brazeal and plunked redshirt sophomore Andrew Longley and was replaced by junior Matt Campbell (Tampa, Fla.) (0.1 IP, 2 K), who was making his collegiate debut. Inheriting a 2-0 count to Llerna, the reliever issued a walk that brought across Carlin. Campbell had a wild pitch that scored Brazeal before fanning freshman Chad Taylor for the second out. Another wild pitch plated Longley and Campbell struck out sophomore Sam Mende, but another wild pitch enabled USF to close within 13-8 and prompt another call for relief. Sophomore Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) had junior Stephen Hunt fly out to left to close the frame without further damage.
The Gators erupted for five more runs in the eighth to take an 18-8 lead. Sophomore pinch hitter Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) was hit by a pitch and Fontana collected his fourth walk with one down before Jonathan Pigott rifled an RBI double to score Thompson. After Tucker was walked intentionally, Maddox had an infield single to score Fontana and a throwing error allowed Pigott to come home. A wild pitch by Adams (1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R) scored Tucker and Maddox moved to third before Daniel Pigott walked on four pitches. Junior Zach Pietrzyk took the mound and a fielder’s choice by Adams drove in Maddox to finalize the 10-run margin.
Freshman Ben Brown (Winter Haven, Fla.) and sophomore Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) each threw a scoreless inning for the Gators, who enjoyed a 17-9 edge in hits and drew a season-high 11 walks. Florida returns to McKethan Stadium for first time since April 6 when it hosts league-leading No. 4 Arkansas (32-6/12-3 SEC) this weekend. The Hogs are riding a 12-game winning streak and occupy the top spot in the conference standings by one game over LSU (30-6/11-4 SEC) and South Carolina (28-89/11-4 SEC) and two games over the Gators.
· Chas Spottswood made his first start since April 30, 2006, against Georgia.
· The seven runs in the first inning matched the Gators’ most in a frame this year, as they had seven in the sixth at Tennessee on April 11.
· The back-to-back homers by Jonathan Pigott and Preston Tucker marked the third time this year that Florida had gone deep in consecutive at bats (Mike Zunino and Matt den Dekker vs. Charleston Southern in the second on March 12; Tucker and Austin Maddox in the sixth vs. Mississippi State.).
· Nolan Fontana matched his career high with two RBI for the fifth time this season and drew a career-high four walks.
· The Gators matched their season high of two triples for the third time.
· Mike Zunino became the third Gator to have a multiple-homer game this spring (Josh Adams vs. USF, 2/19; Austin Maddox vs. Tennessee, 4/10).
· Hampton Tignor singled in the ninth for his first hit of the campaign.