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Wednesday June 16, 2010Baseball To Meet UCLA In Opening Round Of College World Series

Gainesville, Fla.

The University of Florida baseball team (47-15) will begin action at the 64th NCAA College World Series on Saturday when it faces UCLA (48-14) at 7 p.m. on ESPN. The double-elimination event will be held at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium for the final time before shifting to a new facility in downtown Omaha, Neb.

 

The Gators clinched their sixth trip to the CWS on June 12 with a 4-3, 10-inning win over Miami (Fla.) in front of a record crowd of 5,783 fans at McKethan Stadium. In sweeping the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional series against the Hurricanes, UF nailed down its first appearance in Omaha since 2005. UCLA punched its ticket with an 8-1 win over Cal State Fullerton in the deciding game of the Los Angeles Super Regional on June 13. The Bruins will be making their third appearance at the CWS and first since 1997.

 

Florida and UCLA were the only teams to reach the College World Series in both baseball and softball. The squads met on the opening day of the Women’s College World Series on June 3, with the Bruins notching a 16-3 win on their way to the school’s 12th national championship.

 

Florida has made previous CWS trips in 1988 (1-2, tied for fifth), 1991 (2-2, tied for third), 1996 (2-2, tied for third), 1998 (0-2, tied for seventh) and 2005 (3-3, national runner-up). Against their foes within the 2010 eight-team bracket, the only teams the Gators have faced in Omaha are Arizona State and Florida State.

 

The Sun Devils knocked UF out of the 1988 event with a 10-1 triumph and the squads split two meetings in 2005, with ASU staying alive with a 6-1 victory before Florida advanced to the CWS Championship Series with a 6-3 triumph. The Orange and Blue has taken all three previous encounters with the Seminoles at Rosenblatt Stadium, 5-0 in 1991 and 5-2 and 6-3 in 1996.

 

After bringing home its first Southeastern Conference regular-season title since 2005, Florida was awarded the third national seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators swept the NCAA Gainesville Regional with victories over Bethune-Cookman (7-3), Oregon State (10-2) and Florida Atlantic (15-0) and then handled Miami (Fla.) (7-2, 4-3) twice in the Gainesville Super Regional to advance to the College World Series

 

Third-year skipper Kevin O’Sullivan, the 2010 SEC Coach of the Year, will be bringing a team to Omaha for the first time as a head coach. As an assistant under Jack Leggett at Clemson, O’Sullivan served on staffs that made the 2000, 2002 and 2006 tourneys.

 

In rolling to five-consecutive wins in NCAA play, Florida has used the combination of an efficient offense, strong starting pitching and consistent defense. The club is hitting .312 (58-for-186), has out-scored opponents, 43-10, and collected 21 two-out RBI in its last five outings. The trio of sophomore LHP Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (2-0, 2.57 ERA, 14.0 IP, 20 K, 3 BB), freshman RHP Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (1-0, 3.21 ERA, 14.0 IP, 15 K, 0 BB) and freshman LHP Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 7.0 IP) have worked 35 of the 46 innings on the hill. UF has been perfect in the field in four of the five contests and boasts a fielding percentage of .989.

 

Freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) delivered a two-out RBI double in the top of the 10th inning to drive in freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) with what proved to be the winning run as Florida upended Miami (Fla.), 4-3, on June 12 to sweep the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional.

 

After the Gators had tied the game in the top of the ninth on a two-out throwing error by the Hurricanes that would have ended the game, junior right fielder Chris Pelaez then misplayed Fontana’s fly ball to right field to start the 10th, resulting in Fontana reaching second base. The miscue was Miami’s seventh of the contest. Sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) advanced Fontana into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and sophomore Daniel Miranda had sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) hit a grounder for the second out. Maddox stepped to the plate and ripped a double down the right-field line to put the Gators on top. It was his 16th two-bagger of the campaign and boosted his team-leading RBI total to 71, 37 of which have come with two outs.

 

With the tying run on second base in the bottom of the 10th, sophomore Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) was called in to replace freshman Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.), who gave up two hits over one inning of work. The right-hander caught freshman Michael Broad looking on strikes and then had sophomore Rony Rodriguez ground out to Fontana at shortstop, who fired a bullet across the diamond to Tucker at first base for the final out. Larson collected his third save by setting down both batters he faced.

 

Randall (6.2 IP, 3 H, 5 K) kept Miami off the scoreboard until the seventh and departed with two outs and runners on the corners before the Hurricanes seized the lead on a three-run homer by sophomore Nathan Melendres.

 

Panteliodis went the distance for his first career complete game and established a personal best with 12 strikeouts as UF defeated Miami (Fla.), 7-2, in the opener of the best-of-three NCAA Gainesville Super Regional on June 11. Panteliodis (11-2) retired the final 14 Hurricane hitters of the contest and yielded three hits to register UF’s first complete game since Stephen Locke accomplished the feat against Alabama on May 10, 2008. The southpaw’s effort was the first complete game by a Gator pitcher in the NCAA Tournament since Tommy Boss twirled nine innings in an 8-1 triumph over Florida State in Game 1 of the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional on June 10, 2005.

 

UF plated three unearned runs with two out in the third on a bases-loaded infield single by Johnson and a two-run single by freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) with the sacks full. After Miami countered with a two-run homer by Yasmani Grandal in the fourth to pull within 3-2, Florida answered with three runs on an RBI grounder by senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and a two-run single by Maddox to build a 6-2 advantage. Sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) closed the scoring with a homer in the fifth.

 

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 five occasions: 1991, 1996, 1998, 2005 and 2010. Florida is 30-9 (.769) on its own turf during NCAA play and has swept the Gainesville Regional two years in a row.

 

Florida/UCLA Storylines

*This will be the first-ever meeting between the Gators and Bruins in NCAA College World Series.

*UF defeated UCLA twice during the 2004 NCAA Oklahoma City Regional, taking a 4-3 victory in a winner’s bracket game before an 11-0 triumph to secure the program’s first NCAA Super Regional berth.

*Before the matchups in the Sooner State, the only other time the teams had played was in Orlando, Fla., during the 1991 regular season.

*The Gators are 2-3 (.400) against teams from the Pac-10 at the CWS (6-5 win over California on 6/5/88; 10-1 loss to Arizona State on 6/7/88; 12-10 loss in 11 innings to Southern California on 6/1/98; 6-1 loss to Arizona State on 6/22/05; 6-3 win over Arizona State on 6/23/05).

*Against common opponents this season, Florida is 11-2 (.846) and UCLA is 6-1 (.857).

-Bethune-Cookman (UF: 1-0; UCLA: 1-0)

-Vanderbilt (UF: 3-1; UCLA: 1-0)

-Mississippi State (UF: 3-0; UCLA: 1-0)

-LSU (UF: 3-1; UCLA: 1-0)

-Oregon State (UF: 1-0; UCLA: 2-1)

 

The Gators are the lone school nationally this year to play in a BCS bowl game in football, make it to the NCAA Tournament in men’s basketball and advance to the NCAA College World Series in baseball. Florida thrashed previously unbeaten Cincinnati, 51-24, in the 2010 Allstate Sugar Bowl, while the UF men’s basketball team fell in double overtime to BYU, 99-92, in the first round of NCAA action.

 

Gator Bytes

*Kevin O’Sullivan has an 8-4 (.667) NCAA Tournament mark, going 6-2 (.750) in Regionals and 2-2 (.500) in Super Regionals. The Gators were 0-2 at the 2008 Tallahassee Regional before going 3-0 at the 2009 and 2010 Gainesville Regional. After dropping a pair of games at the 2009 Gainesville Super Regional, UF captured both contests at the 2010 Gainesville Super Regional.

*O’Sullivan is the fourth UF head coach to bring the club to Omaha, joining Joe Arnold (1988, 1991), Andy Lopez (1996, 1998) and Pat McMahon (2005).

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

*Florida’s 47 wins are its highest victory total since the 2005 College World Series runner-up squad finished 48-23.

*UF is 14-12 (.538) away from Gainesville this season, 12-8 (.600) at opponents’ home stadiums and 2-4 (.333) at neutral sites.

*This is the farthest west the Gators have traveled since a three-game series at Texas A&M from March 9-11, 2007.

*LSU was the third seed last year and won the national championship, although five of the last six teams to bring home the hardware have not been a national seed. Florida is seeded third this time around.

*Since 2000, an SEC school as made the CWS Finals in five of the 10 years, tied with the Pac-10 for the most appearances.

*With both Florida and South Carolina reaching Omaha, this is the 18th-straight year that the SEC has had a team in the CWS.

*Sophomore Alex Panteliodis (26 career K’s in NCAA’s) is seven strikeouts away from tying the school record for most career strikeouts in the NCAA Tournament, held by John Burke (33, 1991-92).

*Panteliodis is two wins away from tying Tommy Boss (2002-05) for most career NCAA Tournament wins in school history (four).

*Senior Matt den Dekker needs two stolen bases to tie the school record of six career stolen bases in the NCAA Tournament, held by David Eckstein (1994-97).

*Junior Josh Adams and senior Jonathan Pigott each need three doubles to tie the school record of six career doubles in the NCAA Tournament, held by Jeff Corsaletti (2002-05) and Justin Tordi (2003-05).

*Sophomores Tyler Thompson and Preston Tucker each need three homers to tie the school record of seven career home runs in the NCAA Tournament, held by Mario Linares (1988-91).

*Versatile freshman Austin Maddox, who has started games at third base (28), designated hitter (18), first base (14) and catcher (one), leads the Gators in RBI (71), multiple-RBI games (21), 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.

*Freshman Brian Johnson is hitting a team-high .542 (13-for-24) over Florida’s nine postseason games and has seven RBI, four runs and four extra-base hits (two doubles, one homer, one triple).

*UF was 0-for-1 on the basepaths during the NCAA Super Regional and is second in the SEC with 92 thefts in 126 chances. Senior Matt den Dekker is 23-for-30 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 219 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 232 games to rank fifth at Florida, with Jeff Corsaletti (239, 2002-05) next on the chart. His 218 starts are third behind only Brian Duva (234, 1991-94) and Mario Linares (227, 1988-91).

*With 261 hits, den Dekker needs two more to pass Dave Majeski (262, 1989-92) for fifth and with 159 RBI, he needs one more to pass Jeff Corsaletti (2002-05) for sixth. den Dekker is third in at bats (837), 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 1.48 earned average in 30 appearances covering 42.2 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 18 saves already this year from five players: Chapman (11), senior Jeff Barfield (two), sophomores Greg Larson (three) and Nick Maronde (one) and freshman Steven Rodriguez (one).

*Rodriguez notched the decisive win against Miami (Fla.) on June 12 with one inning of work and picked up 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 3-for-24 (.125) versus the southpaw this year.

*UF’s 18 saves equal the team’s single-season best set in 1991 and are its most since 2005.

*Florida’s bullpen is 17-2 with 18 saves and a 4.18 ERA in 243.1 innings, its starters are 30-13 with a 3.78 ERA in 304.2 innings.

*The Gators have a .301 batting average against left-handed pitchers and a .299 clip against right-handers.

*Thirty-seven of Maddox’s 71 RBI have come with two out, while 24 of den Dekker’s career-high 49 RBI are with two down.

*Florida is 30-for-81 (.370) with the bases loaded with 88 RBI and three grand slams. Two have come from freshman Brian Johnson, who is 4-for-6 (.667) and has tallied 12 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 109 doubles and 81 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-13 (.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. Zunino was 1-for-7 (.143) against Miami (Fla.) but came through with a two-run single in game one to expand the Gators’ lead to 3-0.

*The Orange and Blue enjoy a 431-271 scoring advantage, led by a 64-19 disparity in the third inning and a 52-24 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 36-4 (.900) scoring first and 11-11 (.500) when their opponents do. UF is 34-3 (.919) when having more hits than its foe and 10-12 (.455) 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 10-3 (.769) in one-run games this season after going 8-7 (.533) in 2009 and 6-8 (.429) in 2008.

* The Gators are 41-0 leading after six innings, 44-0 leading after seven innings and 43-0 this year when leading after eight innings. UF is 1-15 trailing after six, 2-14 when down after seven and 3-14 when behind after eight innings.

 

-UF-

 

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