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Thursday June 10, 2010No. 4 Baseball Hosts No. 11 Miami With College World Series Berth At Stake

Gainesville, Fla.

After collecting three-straight wins in its own NCAA Gainesville Regional, No. 4 Florida (45-15) will host No. 11 Miami (Fla.) (43-18) in a best-of-three series at McKethan Stadium. Game 1 will be on Friday at 7 p.m. on ESPN, Game 2 will be at 7 p.m. on Saturday on ESPN2 and, if necessary, a deciding third game will be at 7 p.m. on Sunday on ESPN2. The winner will advance to the 64th NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Neb., that starts next Saturday, June 19.

 

The Gators will be making their fourth Super Regional appearance in school history, all in the past seven years. UF was swept in Coral Gables in 2004 by Miami and then rebounded the following season to oust Florida State in two games in Gainesville to punch its first ticket to Omaha in seven years. Last June, the Gators dropped two in a row to Southern Miss at home in the Super Regional. The Hurricanes will be playing in the Super Regional round for the 10th time in school history.

 

In its Regional opener last Friday, top-seeded Florida handled fourth-seeded Bethune-Cookman, 7-3. The Gators defeated third-seeded Oregon State, 10-2, in a winner’s bracket matchup on Saturday and then overpowered second-seeded Florida Atlantic on Sunday night, 15-0, to secure their eighth Regional title.

 

Seeded first at the Coral Gables Regional, Miami beat fourth-seeded Dartmouth in a slugfest at Alex Rodriguez Park, 12-8, and then downed second-seeded Texas A&M, 14-1, the next night. Although the Aggies forced a deciding game with an 11-7 triumph on Sunday and play was suspended on Monday night, the Hurricanes used a pair of three-run innings in the sixth and seventh on Tuesday to eliminate A&M, 10-3.

 

This season marked the ninth time that McKethan Stadium has hosted NCAA Regional action and the second-straight year. The Gators have gone on to the College World Series from Gainesville on four previous occasions: 1991, 1996, 1998 and 2005. Florida is 28-9 (.757) on its own turf during NCAA play and has swept the Gainesville Regional two years in a row.

 

Freshman left-hander/designated hitter Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) was named the Gainesville Regional’s Most Outstanding Player after firing seven scoreless innings in the Regional final against Florida Atlantic and going 5-for-8 (.625) over two games with two RBI, two runs, a homer, his first career triple and a slugging percentage of 1.250. The rookie was 3-for-5 versus the Owls and belted a leadoff homer in the third to help his own cause and was 2-for-3 with an RBI three-bagger in the victory over Oregon State.

 

The Gainesville Regional All-Tournament squad had an Orange and Blue tint to it, as Florida notched a team-high seven selections. In addition to Johnson, other recipients included senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (.462, four RBI, four runs, homer), freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (.455, five walks, four runs, three RBI, homer), freshman right-hander Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (7.1 IP, 10 K in the 7-3 win over B-CU), sophomore outfielder Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) (.667, six RBI, five runs, three homers, 2.000 slugging percentage) sopho­more first baseman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (.400, four RBI, homer) and freshman catcher Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (.364, four runs, four RBI).

 

Entering last Sunday night’s meeting with Florida Atlantic, Thompson had three career homers in 91 games. In an amazing display, he became the eighth Gator in school history to homer three times in one game, the first to do so in the postseason. Thompson went 4-for-5 with additional career highs in RBI (six) and runs (four) and matched the single-season UF record of 14 total bases. He began the scoring with an RBI double in the second, hit solo homers in both the third and fifth innings and jacked a three-run blast in the eighth.

 

Behind a three-homer, six-RBI performance from Thompson and seven scoreless innings by Johnson, Florida blanked Florida Atlantic, 15-0. 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, UF’s first in NCAA action since an 11-0 victory over UCLA on June 6, 2004, in the NCAA Oklahoma City Regional.

 

Florida used a seven-run third inning to post a 10-2 win over Oregon State in a winner’s bracket game last Saturday night. Sophomore left-hander Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (10-2) matched his career high with eight strikeouts over five innings and earned the win to become the first Gator pitcher with 10 victories since Alan Horne went 10-2 in 2005. Seven of Florida’s 14 hits went for extra bases, with three homers, two triples and a couple of doubles.

 

Fontana (1-for-3, two runs) opened the game with a homer and the Orange and Blue later sent 11 batters to the plate and exploded for seven runs with two down in the third frame. Freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville , Fla.) (3-for-5) had a key two-run single to jump-strart the offense, while den Dekker (2-for-4, two runs) and junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville , Fla.) (2-for-5, two RBI) also homered in the victory.

 

Randall notched a career-high 10 strikeouts over 7.1 innings as the Gators defeated Bethune-Cookman, 7-3, last Friday night. In his NCAA Regional debut, the rookie (8-3) did not allow a hit until the fifth inning in picking up his sixth-straight victory. UF seized a 4-0 advantage with five hits in the second inning, highlighted by a two-run single by Fontana (2-for-4) and junior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville , Ga.) (2-for-4). den Dekker (2-for-4) chipped in with a two-run triples as part of a three-run sixth.

 

Miami (Fla.) has taken 12 of its 17 encounters with Florida in NCAA Tournament action and has ended the Gators’ season on eight different occasions: 1981 South Regional, 1985 Atlantic Regional, 1989 East Regional, 1994 Atlantic I Regional, 1997 Atlantic Regional, 2002 Gainesville Regional, 2003 Coral Gables Re­gional and the 2004 Coral Gables Super Regional. Florida ousted UM in the 2009 Gainesville Regional.

 

The Gators claimed two of three meetings at No. 10 Miami (Fla.) between March 5-7 for the squad’s first regular-season series triumph over the Hurricanes since 2007. Fontana went 7-for-11 (.636) with four runs, two stolen bases and boasted a perfect fielding percentage in 11 chances at short­stop. Tucker batted .500 (5-for-10) during the series with three walks, two doubles and scored twice.

 

Florida captured the opener, 7-1, as Panteliodis held UM hitless into the fifth and registered a career-high eight strikeouts. Making his initial start of the season, Panteliodis gave up two hits over 5.2 innings and was supported by an offense that plated four runs in the third and three in the eighth. Sophomore Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) collected his first career save with seven strikeouts over 3.1 hitless and scoreless innings. Adams and Maddox (.333 during the series) opened the scoring with two-run singles in the fourth inning. Zunino drove in a then-career-high two runs, courtesy of his eighth-inning single.

 

On Saturday, Miami scored three unearned runs in the fifth to turn a one-run deficit into a lead it would not relinquish on its way to a 9-6 win. Smith had his first homer at Florida with a three-run bomb in the seventh and his first theft in the second inning. The duo of Toledo and Chapman limited Miami to four hits and Smith bashed a three-run homer to lift Florida to a 4-2 victory in the rubber game on Sunday. The Gators took a series in Coral Gables for just the fifth time since 1960. Toledo, who missed last year while recovering from an injured shoulder, scattered three hits and gave up one earned run over five innings. In his third start and fourth appearance of the campaign, the righty totaled four strikeouts. Chapman recorded his sec­ond save with a career-long four-inning relief stint in which he gave up one hit with a pair of strikeouts. The southpaw had not surrendered any earned runs in five appearances. Smith (1-for-4) launched his second three-run homer in as many days in the fourth inning to move the Ga­tors in front for good. UF hit .296 (32-for-108) in the series, out-scored the Hurricanes by a 17-12 count and was 7-for-9 on the basepaths.

 

Playing as the visiting team in the second meeting with Miami (Fla.) during the NCAA Gainesville Regional on May 31, 2009, the Gators shot out of the gates with five runs on five hits off in the top of the first inning and finished with 22 hits, the most under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan and a figure which matched the most in school history during an NCAA Tournament game. All nine starters contributed at least one hit and eight players chipped in with multiple-hit efforts during the 16-5 triumph.

 

At the time, the 11-run victory was the largest margin for the Gators in an NCAA Tournament game since a 23-3 triumph over Notre Dame on June 5, 2005, at the NCAA Gainesville Regional and was also the team’s largest victory ever against UM in the NCAA Tourney.

 

Holding a 7-1 advantage, Florida sent 12 batters to the plate in the fifth inning and tallied seven runs on nine hits to put the contest firmly out of reach. Not only did Tucker and Adams belt homers, the Gators had a stretch of seven two-out hits in a row to balloon their lead to 14-1.

 

Perhaps lost in the shuffle of the offensive numbers put up on the board was the strong performance of UF’s relievers, which tossed 4.1 scoreless frames. The Regional cham­pionship marked the first time in 11 attempts that Florida emerged victorious when Miami was part of the field.

 

Behind 7.1 strong innings from left-hander Stephen Locke and a four-run third inning, Florida had downed Miami, 8-2, in a winner’s bracket game during the 2009 NCAA Gaines­ville Regional. Locke held the Hurricanes to six singles and two runs (zero earned), with three strikeouts and a walk. The southpaw was supported by a balanced offense that totaled 10 hits, three doubles and a solo homer by Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.), who was 2-for-5 and scored twice. The win was the first for the Gators over UM last season after suffering a three-game sweep at home in February.

 

With a 31-3 (.912) mark at McKethan Stadium this season, O’Sullivan sports an 88-19 (.822) record at home. The sweep of Georgia between May 14-16 pushed the Gators to 24-3 (.889) in regular-season series under his tutelage at McKethan Stadium.

 

With the 7-3 conquest of Bethune-Cookman last Friday, the Orange and Blue moved to 13-4 (.765) against in-state opponents this season, with four wins against USF, two against Miami and one apiece versus FAU, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida State, Jacksonville, UNF and UCF. The Gators fell three times to the Seminoles and once to the Hurricanes.

 

The Gators have committed a league-low 50 errors in 60 games and boast a .978 fielding percentage that leads the SEC and is seventh nationally. UF has played flawless defense in 29 of 60 contests and sports a 24-5 (.828) mark in those games. The team did not commit any miscues during the Gainesville Regional last weekend. The Orange and Blue ranked 11th in the SEC with a .966 clip last season and the school’s best fielding percentage of .968 was set in 1997.

 

Gator Bytes

*Kevin O’Sullivan is 5-6 (.455) against Miami (Fla.), 3-6 (.333) during the regular season and 2-0 in NCAA play.

*He is 2-3 (.400) at home against the Hurricanes, who are one of only three teams that has a winning record at McKethan Stadium during his tenure (Ole Miss, 2-1; Southern Miss, 2-0).

*O’Sullivan has a 6-4 (.600) NCAA Tournament mark, going 0-2 at the 2008 Tallahassee Regional, 3-0 at the 2009 Gainesville Regional, 0-2 at the 2009 Gainesville Super Regional and 3-0 at the 2010 Gainesville Regional.

*He became the first Florida head coach to capture two NCAA Regional titles in his first three seasons and joins Pat McMahon (2004-05) in leading the Gators to a pair of Super Regionals

*Florida’s 45 wins are its highest victory total since the 2005 College World Series runner-up squad finished 48-23.

*UF is 31-3 (.912) at McKethan Stadium and sports a 20-1 (.952) record at night.

*The Orange and Blue has a 13-game winning streak at home since an 8-3 loss to Arkansas in the opener of the teams’ weekend series on April 23.

*The trio of sophomore LHP Alex Panteliodis (10-2, 3.39), freshman RHP Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.97) and freshman LHP Brian Johnson (6-4, 3.97) are a combined 16-2 (.889) with a 2.40 ERA at McKethan Stadium this season.

*Versatile freshman Austin Maddox, who has started games at third base (26), designated hitter (18), first base (14) and catcher (one), leads the Gators in RBI (68), multiple-RBI games (20), homers (17) and sacrifice flies (five). Current sophomore Preston Tucker set the single-season school record of 85 RBI last year, when he claimed the team’s Triple Crown with a .364 batting average, 85 RBI and 15 home runs.

*Tucker is hitting a team-high .375 (15-for-40) over the past 10 games and has eight RBI, five runs and five extra-base hits (two homers, two doubles, one triple).

*On the seven-game road trip to South Carolina and the SEC Tournament, junior Josh Adams was 8-for-25 (.320) with eight RBI, three doubles and two walks. He hit .250 (3-for-12) with four runs, two RBI and a pair of walks last weekend.

*UF was 6-for-8 on the basepaths during the NCAA Regional and is second in the SEC with 92 thefts in 125 chances. Senior Matt den Dekker is 23-for-29 to lead the team and is tied with Jim Watkins (1978-79) for fifth on the school’s career list with 65 SB.

*In game two at Alabama on May 8, den Dekker became the fifth Gator to reach 200 runs scored in his career. With 217 over the past four years, he trails Mark Ellis (240), Brad Wilk­erson (239) and David Eckstein (222) on the school’s all-time list.

*den Dekker has played in 230 games to rank fifth at Florida, with Jeff Corsaletti (239, 2002-05) next on the chart. His 216 starts are third behind only Brian Duva (234, 1991-94) and Mario Linares (227, 1988-91).

*With 259 hits, den Dekker needs four more to pass Dave Majeski (262, 1989-92) for fifth and with 158 RBI, he needs one more to pass Brian Leclerc (2004-07) for seventh. den Dekker is tied for third at bats (830), tied for fourth in strikeouts (154) tied for sixth in career sacrifice flies (12), is seventh in home runs (33) and is eighth in hit-by-pitches (24).

*Junior LHP Kevin Chapman is 3-0 with a team-low 1.28 earned average in 29 appear­ances covering 42.1 innings. He is tied for second in the SEC with 11 saves. Prior to this season, Chapman had pitched a total of 49.2 innings and made 30 appearances in his career.

*Led by 11 from Billy Bullock, Florida totaled 13 saves in its 42 victories in 2009. UF has 17 saves already this year from five players: Chapman (11), senior Jeff Barfield (two), sopho­mores Greg Larson (two) and Nick Maronde (one) and freshman Steven Rodriguez (one).

*Rodriguez notched his first career save by tossing two scoreless innings and allowing one hit in the elimination game against Vanderbilt on May 28. Leadoff batters are 2-for-23 (.087) versus the southpaw this year.

*UF’s 17 saves are one shy of the team’s single-season best set in 1991 and equal the amount from 1992, 1996 and 2005.

*Florida’s bullpen is 16-2 with 17 saves and a 4.20 ERA in 240.0 innings, its starters are 29-13 with a 3.86 ERA in 289.0 innings.

*The Gators have a .311 batting average against left-handed pitchers and a .299 clip against right-handers.

*Thirty-four of Maddox’s 68 RBI have come with two out, while half of den Dekker’s 48 RBI are with two down. The senior has equaled his career high of 48 RBI set during his sophomore season in 2008.

*Florida is 28-for-75 (.373) with the bases loaded with 84 RBI and three grand slams. Two have come from freshman Brian Johnson, who is 3-for-4 (.750) and has tallied 11 RBI with the sacks full. The dual threat was 5-for-9 (.556) at the SEC Tourney and became the first player from Florida with two doubles in a game during the tourney since Matt LaPorta accomplished the feat in 2005.

*The Gators’ season totals of 107 doubles and 80 homers are their most since 113 two-baggers and 85 round-trippers in 2005.

*Sophomore Ben McMahan (.333, 11 RBI) has been called on to pinch hit most frequently and is 5-for-14 (.385). He is 11-for-23 (.478) when hitting with two outs.

*After sitting out the finale at South Carolina and UF’s four SEC Tourney games with a thumb injury, freshman catcher Mike Zunino returned to the lineup and batted .364 (4-for-11) during Regionals. He opened the weekend by going 1-for-3 with an RBI single against Bethune-Cookman, had a two-run double in the win over Oregon State and went 2-for-4 and scored twice against FAU.

*The Orange and Blue enjoy a 420-266 scoring advantage, led by a 61-19 disparity in the third inning and a 49-22 cushion in the fourth frame. UF holds the advantage in each inning except the second, when foes have a 48-40 edge.

*The Gators are 34-4 (.895) scoring first and 11-11 (.500) when their opponents do. UF is 33-3 (.917) when having more hits than its foe and 9-12 (.429) when out-hit.

*UF is 3-9 (.250) when its opponent scores in the opening stanza and hold a 38-28 margin in the first inning thanks to the seven-run outburst versus USF on April 21.

*Florida is 9-3 (.750) in one-run games this season after going 8-7 (.533) in 2009 and 6-8 (.429) in 2008.

* The Gators are 39-0 leading after six innings, 43-0 leading after seven innings and 42-0 this year when leading after eight innings.

 

-UF-

 

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