Sunday June 6, 2010No. 4 Baseball Overpowers FAU, 15-0, To Win Regional
Behind a three-homer, six-RBI performance from sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) and seven scoreless innings by freshman left-hander Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.), top-seeded Florida (45-15) blanked Florida Atlantic (37-24), 15-0, to capture the NCAA Gainesville Regional on Sunday night at McKethan Stadium. The Gators unleashed a 19-hit barrage that featured a school postseason record six home runs and the duo of redshirt sophomore Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) and junior Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) each worked an inning without yielding a run to complete the shutout.
In becoming the first Florida player to belt three homers in a postseason game, Thompson (4-for-5) enjoyed a career night, matching his career high of four hits and setting personal bests in runs (four) and RBI (six). Johnson (6-4) was named the Regional’s Most Outstanding Player after hitting .625 (5-for-8) at the plate this weekend and the southpaw scattered six hits over seven innings and was 3-for-5 with a solo shot in tonight’s Regional title game.
With the victory, the Gators advance to next weekend’s Super Regional for the second-straight year and the fourth time in the past seven years. UF will host the winner of the Coral Gables Regional, which will be determined on Monday night when Miami (Fla.) (42-18) faces Texas A&M (43-20-1) at 7 p.m. Start times and dates for next weekend’s eight best-of-three series around the country will be announced by the NCAA late Monday night.
“It was a great team effort tonight,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We had a chance to get everyone in the ballgame, first and foremost. We swung the bats really well, got off to an early lead and had production all the way down the lineup. We had great pitching from (Brian) Johnson as the starter and got the chance to get (Tommy) Toledo and (Kevin) Chapman back out there. I’m awfully proud of them. We have our sights set on playing well into the summer. I feel really good about this team at this point, I think we’re clicking. We have a lot of work ahead of us this week, but we’re looking forward to the challenge next weekend.”
Florida broke the ice with three runs on four hits and a bases-loaded walk against junior Taylor Everist (2-8) in the second inning. Freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (2-for-4, two runs) and junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (1-for-4, two runs) began the frame with consecutive singles for runners on first and third and Thompson opened the scoring with an RBI double that brought home Zunino. Junior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) earned a free pass to load the bases with none out and Everist had freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (2-for-4, two runs) pop out in foul territory. Senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (2-for-5, two runs) walked to bring in Adams for a 2-0 count and sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (4-for-6, four RBI) followed with an RBI single to score Thompson with the third run. den Dekker was called out trying to dive back to second base for the second out and freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville , Fla.) flew out to right field to end the inning.
UF belted a season-high three homers in the third inning, highlighted by back-to-back round-trippers from Johnson and Zunino, to build a 6-0 lead. Johnson connected on his fourth round-tripper down the right-field line and Zunino followed with his ninth dinger to straightaway center field. It was the first time since April 21 at USF that the Gators hit consecutive homers. After Adams flew out, Thompson launched his third big fly deep to right field for a six-run margin that ended the night for Everist (2.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R).
Thompson went deep again with one down in the fifth to increase the Gators’ margin to 7-0. It was the first multiple-homer game of his career and he tagged freshman Kevin Alexander’s first pitch of the at bat over the wall in left center.
Three-run homers by Tucker and Thompson expanded Florida’s lead to 13-0 in the eighth. Fontana opened the stanza with his 14th double and den Dekker singled to left field before Tucker deposited his 11th homer over the right-field wall and onto Stadium Road. After sophomore Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) delivered a two-out pinch-hit single and Adams walked, freshman Jason Boyer replaced Alexander (5.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R). Thompson greeted the reliever with his third homer of the game to right center.
The Gators tacked on two more runs in the ninth on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by senior Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.) that scored Fontana, as well as a sacrifice fly by McMahan that brought home den Dekker.
Led by four-hit outbursts by Thompson and Tucker, Florida held a 19-9 advantage in hits. Junior Eddie Cassidy was 2-for-3 to pace the Owls after blasting three homers in the elimination-game victory earlier today over Oregon State.
2010 NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team
Catcher: Mike Zunino, FLORIDA
First Base: Preston Tucker, FLORIDA
Second Base: Raymond Church, Florida Atlantic
Shortstop: Nolan Fontana, FLORIDA
Third Base: Sean Bukovich, Florida Atlantic
Outfield: Tyler Thompson, FLORIDA
Outfield: Adalberto Santos, Oregon State
Outfield: Matt den Dekker, FLORIDA
Designated Hitter: Eddie Cassidy, Florida Atlantic
Hudson Randall, FLORIDA
Pitcher: Brian Johnson, FLORIDA
Most Outstanding Player: Brian Johnson, FLORIDA
• Florida captured its eighth NCAA Regional and has swept the last three Regionals it has hosted (2005, 2009, 2010). The Orange and Blue improved to 30-9 (.769) at McKethan Stadium during NCAA play.
• Kevin O’Sullivan became the first Florida head coach to capture two NCAA Regional titles in his first three seasons.
• The Gators improved to 70-53 (.569) all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 60-38 (.612) in NCAA Regional play.
• Tyler Thompson became the first player in school history to hit three home runs in a postseason game. Thompson, who had three home runs total in the regular season, went 6-for-9 (.667) with six RBI, five runs, three home runs, a double and a triple in two starts this weekend.
• The total of six home runs in an NCAA Tournament game was the most in school history, passing the previous record of five set on May 31, 2003 vs. Florida Atlantic.
• Florida improved to 17-6 all-time vs. FAU.
• The Orange and Blue won its 13th-straight game at home and improved to 20-1 (.952) at home in night games this season.
• Brian Johnson and Mike Zunino became the first pair of Gators to hit back-to-back home runs in the NCAA Tournament since Brian Jeroloman and Brandon McArthur had consecutive dingers in the fifth inning of an 8-1 win over Florida State on June 10, 2005, in the NCAA Super Regionals. The homers marked the first time since April 21 at USF that the Gators had consecutive round-trippers.
• Florida homered three times in the same inning (third) for the first time all season.
• Florida bettered its record to 34-4 (.895) this season when scoring first.
• During the Regional, Nolan Fontana went 5-for-11 (.455) in three games with five walks, four runs, three RBI, a home run and a double.
• Preston Tucker is batting .392 (20-for-51) in his last 13 games with 11 RBI, 10 runs, and six extra-base hits (three doubles, two home runs and a triple). In eight career NCAA Tournament games, Tucker is hitting .576 (19-for-33) with 12 RBI, nine runs and four home runs.
• Mike Zunino finished the weekend going 4-for-11 (.364) with four RBI, four runs, a home run and a double.
• Florida’s 15-run victory was its largest NCAA Tournament victory since a 23-3 triumph over Notre Dame in the 2005 NCAA Gainesville Regional. The win was the team’s biggest overall since a 24-2 victory at Auburn on April 11, 2009.
• The shutout was Florida’s first in the NCAA Tournament since an 11-0 victory over UCLA on June 6, 2004, in the NCAA Oklahoma City Regional.
• Florida outscored its opponents, 32-5, this weekend.
Florida Atlantic Notes
• FAU dropped to 12-15 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
• FAU was shutout for the first time since a 2-0 setback on March 17, 2010, versus Rutgers after averaging 10.6 runs in its previous eight games. The Owls’ last NCAA Tournament shutout came in a 1-0 loss to Miami in the 2003 Coral Gables Regional.
• The 15-run defeat was the largest margin of defeat in school history during the NCAA Tournament.
• The combination of FAU’s 4-6 hitters, Dan Scheffler, Eddie Cassidy and Nick Delguidice hit a combined .481 (21-for-40) this weekend with 14 RBI, 14 runs, six home runs and four doubles.
• Raymond Church finished the season hitting .450 (18-for-40) in his last nine games with 16 RBI, 13 runs and five home runs.