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Thursday April 22, 2010SEC Leader No. 4 Arkansas Visits No. 7 Baseball

Gainesville, Fla.

No. 7 Florida (26-10/10-5 SEC) returns to McKethan Stadium for the first time since April 6 when it hosts league-leading No. 4 Arkansas (32-6/12-3 SEC) beginning on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. The Hogs are riding a 12-game winning streak and occupy the top spot in the conference standings by one game over LSU (32-6/11-4 SEC) and South Carolina (29-8/11-4 SEC) and two games over the Gators. All three contests will be carried live on GatorVision Online.

 

In a premier matchup of sophomore left-handers, Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (6-1, 2.66) will oppose Drew Smyly (5-0, 1.99) in Friday’s opener. Panteliodis is tied for second in the SEC in wins (six), ranks seventh in opposing batting average (.228) and is eighth in ERA (2.66). The left-hander has worked at least 5.1 innings in all seven of his starts and boasts a 39:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

 

Freshman righty Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (3-3, 4.12) will start game two against UA junior Brett Eibner (3-2, 3.38) on Saturday at 1 p.m. The game will be carried live on FOX Sports Florida in Gainesville, Orlando and Tampa and throughout South Florida on Sun Sports. Neither team has announced a pitcher for Sunday’s series finale at 1 p.m.

 

Florida has claimed four of its five SEC series and the 10-5 start to league play is a game better than the 9-6 effort during Kevin O’Sullivan’s first two seasons at the helm. Over the past two weekends, the Orange and Blue have posted 2-1 road series wins over Eastern Division rivals Tennessee and Kentucky.

 

Arkansas has claimed its last six meetings with UF, including all five last year. The Hogs took all three encounters at Baum Stadium between March 13-15, then knocked off the second-seeded Gators as the seventh seed during the SEC Tournament twice by scores of 8-5 and 10-7.

 

Florida used a seven-run first inning to set the tone for its 18-8 victory over USF 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.

 

Senior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-7, three RBI) and sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (3-for-6, three runs) connected on back-to-back homers in the first inning and Tucker wound up a double shy of hitting for the cycle. Freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) notched career highs in walks (four) and runs scored (four), while sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) had a season-best three hits as part of a 3-for-4 outing. Making his first start since April 30, 2006, against Georgia, senior RHP Chas Spottswood (Key West, Fla.) yielded five hits and two runs over four innings. UF drew a season-best 11 walks, matched its high of two triples and did not commit any errors for the 20th time this year.

 

With an 18-2 (.900) start to the home slate, O’Sullivan sports a 75-18 (.806) record at home. The 2-1 series win over Vanderbilt over Easter weekend pushed the Gators to 21-3 (.875) in regular-season series under his tutelage at McKethan Stadium. Florida turned in a 5-3 (.625) ledger on its season-high eight-game road trip that ended Wednesday against USF.

 

Gator Bytes

*Coach O’Sullivan is 1-7 (.125) against Arkansas, 1-2 (.333) in Gainesville, 0-3 in Fayetteville and 0-2 at the SEC Tournament.

*The Hogs are the only league team that O’Sullivan does not have a winning record against.

*The Gators’ last win over UA was a 6-1 decision at McKethan Stadium on April 12, 2008.

*Arkansas has taken the last three regular-season series (3-0 in 2009; 2-1 in 2008; 3-0 in 2007) since UF took two of three between May 17-19, 2006, in Gainesville.

*Florida has not defeated the Hogs in consecutive meetings in the same season since 2005: an 11-10 victory in Fayetteville on May 8 that was followed by a 9-8 decision at the SEC Tournament on May 25.

*Tucker enters the weekend on a career-high 11-game hitting streak in which he is hitting .375 (15-for-40), with nine RBI, eight runs and three doubles.

*Versatile freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.), who has started games at designated hitter (16), third base (11), first base (eight) and catcher (one), is riding a nine-game hitting streak in which he is 15-for-40 (.375) with 17 RBI, 11 runs, five homers and four doubles.

*Daniel Pigott’s seven-game hitting streak matches his career high. He is batting .385 (10-for-26) with five RBI and five runs during the skein.

*Randall, twice named as the SEC Freshman of the Week, will be making his team-leading ninth start on Saturday afternoon. In five starts at home, Randall is 2-1 with a 3.08 ERA, with 20 strikeouts and five walks in 26.1 innings.

*The quartet of Maddox (six), junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (four), senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (four) and Tucker (four) has combined for 18 of Florida’s 24 homers at McKethan Stadium this season.

*Opponents are 20-for-30 on stolen-base opportunities against the Gators, while Zunino has thrown out eight of 25 runners.

*UF is 53-of-75 on the basepaths and is fifth in the SEC in thefts. den Dekker is 12-for-16 to lead the team and needs one more stolen base to match Adam Davis (2004-06) and Roger Holt (1975-77) for eighth on the school’s career list with 55 SB.

*Junior LHP Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.), who made 11 appearances last year and 30 total in his career entering this season, is 1-0 with a team-low 1.37 earned average in 18 appearances covering 26.1 innings. He is tied for second in the SEC with seven saves.

*Led by 11 from Billy Bullock, Florida totaled 13 saves in its 42 victories in 2009. UF has 11 saves already this year from four players: Chapman (seven), senior Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.) (two), as well as sophomores Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) (one) and Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) (one).

*Left-handed batters are 2-for-17 (.118) against Barfield, who has collected both of his wins in league action (Vanderbilt, April 2; Kentucky, April 16).

*Tucker is batting .359 (28-for-78) and Maddox is hitting .353 (30-for-85) with runners on base, with Tucker at .359 (14-for-39) and Maddox at .340 (18-for-53) with RISP.

*den Dekker (.382) and sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) (.375) and are the most effective starters with two outs, while sophomore Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) is 6-for-11 (.545) with two down in an inning. Maddox leads the Gators with 20 two-out RBI and McMahan is 3-for-7 (.429) as a pinch-hitter.

*Leadoff batters are 0-for-14 against freshman lefty Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.), who boasts an 0.59 ERA in nine appearances over 15.1 innings.

*Florida has clubbed at least three homers in four-consecutive games after having 10 homers in the previous 10 games entering the Kentucky series.

*The Orange and Blue enjoy a 251-164 scoring advantage, led by a 49-19 disparity in the sixth inning and a 29-9 cushion in the fourth frame.

*Scoring first, the Gators are 18-2 (.900) and their opponents are 8-8 (.500).

*UF is 19-2 (.905) when having more hits than its foe and 6-8 (.429) when out-hit.

*The Gators are 1-7 (.125) when their opponent scores in the opening stanza and hold a slim 23-22 margin in the first inning thanks to the seven-run outburst versus USF.

 

-UF-

 

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