Thursday February 24, 2011No. 1 Baseball Two-Hits Boston College, 4-0
Florida sophomore left-hander Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) retired the first 17 hitters of the game and combined on a two-hit shutout with classmate Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) as the No. 1 Gators (5-0) defeated Boston College (2-2), 4-0, in the opener of a three-game series on Thursday at McKethan Stadium.
Johnson (2-0) established a school record with 27-consecutive batters retired after setting down the final 10 USF batters last Friday night, eclipsing the previous mark of 23 set by Bryan Augenstein against Cincinnati on Feb. 11, 2006. Johnson’s stretch versus the Eagles was the second-longest by a Gator pitcher to open a game behind Augenstein and he has tossed 12 scoreless innings to begin the season. Johnson allowed one hit and had five strikeouts over six innings against BC and Rodriguez followed with three innings of one-hit ball, in which he tallied three strikeouts, to earn his first save of the year.
Having blanked USF, 5-0, last Sunday, Florida’s second-straight shutout at home marked the team’s 19th win in a row at McKethan Stadium, breaking the previous mark of 18 from March 16-May 13, 1963, and equaled from Feb. 10-March 31, 1998. In addition, UF has captured its first five outings of the year for the fourth-straight time under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan.
“We knew it was going to be a low-scoring game,” O’Sullivan said. “They’re good, so we had an idea we were going need to pitch and play defense. I think the more you see these innings with these bats, the big innings are probably going to be few and far between. We got a lead, we’re going to play games like this, where we tack one run up here and there and then turn it over to the bullpen. I thought their pitchers did an outstanding job as well.”
On Johnson’s effort tonight, O’Sullivan said, “The biggest thing is that he has the slider and he has the change-up so he’s been mixing really well. Brian doesn’t miss his spots very often. He kind of changed looks the second time through their order and he can do a lot of different things.”
UF used an RBI double by sophomore Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) off junior righty Mike Dennhardt (0-1) to begin the scoring in the second inning. With one down, Johnson (1-for-3) hit a ball to left field that junior Marc Perdios misplayed, leaving him on second base. Zunino followed with his first double of the year down the left-field line to break the ice.
Working on a pitch count, Dennhardt gave up one hit and totaled two strikeouts through three innings before giving way to senior Nate Bayuk. The Gators increased their lead to 2-0 in the fourth on a single by Johnson that scored junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.). Tucker (2-for-4) had opened the frame with a base-hit up the middle and moved to second on a fly-out by sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.). Johnson then roped a single into left center to drive in Tucker.
After Johnson set down the first 17 Boston College hitters, freshman Tom Bourdon in the ninth spot laced a sharp single into left field with two out in the sixth. The southpaw responded by having junior Brad Zapenas ground out to freshman third baseman Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.), forcing Bourdon at second.
In the bottom of the inning, senior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) smacked a one-out triple into right center and Tucker picked up his team-leading seventh RBI with his third double to give the Gators a 3-0 advantage.
“I think their pitchers are really competitive,” Tucker said. “I think they were throwing a lot of strikes early in the count, and a lot of breaking balls early in the count too. I think they did a great job of competing tonight, but we got a few situations where we could produce and we did.”
Following a lead-off walk to Perdios in the seventh, Johnson was replaced by Rodriguez. Over six innings, Johnson yielded one hit, with five K and one walk. He threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 20 batters he faced. Rodriguez struck out sophomore Matt Watson and had junior Anthony Melchionda ground into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
Florida completed the scoring at 4-0 in the eighth on a two-out RBI single by Maddox that plated Fontana. Fontana had drawn a lead-off walk from junior Andrew Lawrence and had been sacrificed into scoring position on a bunt by Adams. Rodriguez retired the first seven BC hitters he faced until permitting a two-out double in the ninth by Zapena. Rodriguez closed the contest by having Perdios ground out.
The Gators and Eagles will square off again tomorrow at 5 p.m., with sophomore right-hander Hudson Randall (1-0, 1.50) set for his second start of the campaign against a pitcher to be determined. For all of the latest information on Florida baseball, log on to http://www.gatorzone.com/baseball/ or, for up-to-the-minute updates, follow the team’s Twitter account @GatorZoneBB at www.twitter.com/GatorZoneBB.
· Today was the first-ever meeting between the schools on the diamond.
· The last Gator complete-game no-hitter was thrown by John Burke against Furman, 2-0 on May 23, 1991, in the NCAA East Regional held in Gainesville.
· The most recent Florida no-hitter was a combined effort by Doug Brennan (7.0 IP) and Chris Nelson (2.0 IP) versus Pace in a 16-0 win on March 19, 1993.
· Florida pitchers have allowed five runs and three walks in 45 innings this season.
· The last time the Gators had surrendered two hits in a game was against Illinois State on March 10, 2010, behind the quartet of Anthony DeSclafani (5.1 IP), Steven Rodriguez (1.1 IP), Michael Heller (1.1 IP) and Justin Poovey (1.0 IP).
· Seven different players accounted for UF’s offense.