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Friday March 4, 2011No. 1 Baseball Takes Opener From No. 24 Miami, 8-3

Gainesville, Fla.

Sophomore Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) threw five scoreless innings and No. 1 Florida (8-1) raced out to an 8-0 lead through four innings on its way to an 8-3 victory over No. 24 Miami (4-5) on Friday night in front of 4,587 fans at McKethan Stadium. It was the opener of the teams’ weekend three-game series.

 

Johnson (3-0) matched his career high of nine strikeouts and has yet to yield a run in 17 innings this season. The southpaw was supported by an offense that featured a season-best 3-for-3, three-RBI performance by senior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) and a two-run homer by sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-5).

 

“Good teams find a way to not lose two or three games in a row,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Last year, there were only a handful of times we lost two in a row, and we didn’t lose three in a row. That’s what good teams do. You’re not going to go undefeated obviously, but you want to be able to bounce back after a tough game Tuesday night (vs. Florida State). The guys bounced back tonight.” 

 

After Johnson had struck out five-consecutive batters, UM freshman Shane Rowland drew a two-out walk in the second inning and junior David Villasuso (2-for-4) reached on a fielding error by sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.). Johnson stranded the runners with a punch-out of junior Nathan Melendres to end the inning and match his season high for K set on Opening Night against USF on Feb. 18.

 

In the bottom of the frame, the Gators used five two-out singles, two walks and a wild pitch from freshman Bryan Radziewski (1-1) to take a 4-0 lead. With two down, sophomore Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) and junior Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) came through with consecutive singles and junior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) ripped a base-hit up the middle to drive in Zunino. Adams brought home McMahan with a single into center field and Pigott alertly took third base on relay throw home. A four-pitch walk to Fontana filled the bags and Radziewski uncorked a wild pitch to score Pigott with the third run and advance both Adams and Fontana. Another free pass to senior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) re-loaded the sacks and junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) roped an RBI single to plate Adams with the fourth run. However, Fontana was thrown out at the plate by Melendres to close the frame.

 

Sophomore Zeke DeVoss opened the third with the Hurricanes’ first hit off Johnson, an infield single, but was erased on a fielder’s choice by sophomore Stephen Perez. The Gators turned a nifty 4-6-3 inning-ending double play on a ball hit by freshman Brad Fieger, as Adams flipped the ball to Fontana covering the bag and the 2010 Golden Glover fired a bullet to first base as he was falling down.

 

Adams boosted Florida’s margin to 6-0 in the third with a two-run, two-out single into left field. The Gators had loaded the bases on a lead-off single by Johnson, Zunino reached on an error by junior third baseman Harold Martinez and Pigott drew a two-out a walk. Adams cashed in with a bloop single that scored Johnson and Zunino, doubling his season RBI total to four.  

 

Although junior Rony Rodriguez (2-for-3) started the fourth with a double, Johnson set down the next three Hurricanes, striking out Rowland to close the stanza for his eighth K. Soon after, Maddox ballooned UF’s lead to 8-0 with his first homer of the season, a two-run shot into the left-field bleachers with Smith aboard. Following a walk to Johnson, Radziewski (3.1 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 5 ER) was replaced by freshman Sam Abrams (3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R).

 

Villasuso began the fifth with a double and then Johnson retired the next three Miami batters, including a strikeout of Perez that equaled his career high of nine established on April 25, 2010, against Arkansas. Over five scoreless innings, Johnson gave up three hits and a walk.

 

 “I thought Brian was really sharp in the first two innings,” O’Sullivan acknowledged. “In the second, he walked Shane Rowland left-on-left with two outs and threw about 10 more pitches that inning. Quite honestly, his line was really good, but he wasn’t as sharp as he’s been. That tells you how good he is: even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he’s able to have good results. I was awfully proud of the way he battled tonight.” 

 

In the sixth, Rodriguez had a one-out single off senior Matt Campbell (Tampa, Fla.) before the reliever fanned Martinez. Sophomore Michael Broad (2-for-4) sliced a single into left field for a pair of Hurricanes aboard and Rowland earned a walk to load the bases. Campbell kept Miami scoreless with a strikeout of Villasuso.

 

Freshman Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) followed Campbell (1.0 H, 2 H, 2 K) to the hill and put a zero on the board in the seventh with one hit and a walk. However, the Hurricanes collected four-straight hits off freshman Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) in the eighth that resulted in three runs and narrowed the gap to 8-3. After Martinez and Broad opened the inning with singles, sophomore Cade Kreuter smacked a pinch-hit double into right center to score both of his teammates and end Florida’s scoreless streak of 13.1 innings dating back to the third inning on Tuesday night against No. 5 Florida State. Kreuter took third on a wild pitch and scored on a base-hit by Villasuso. Junior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) came out of the bullpen and had freshman Dale Carey and DeVoss pop up before inducing an inning-ending grounder by Perez. Larson registered a pair of strikeouts in the ninth and wound up retiring all six UM hitters he faced. The Gators held a 12-10 advantage in hits, as the trio of Adams, Maddox and Tucker contributed multiple-hit outings.

 

In a matchup of right-handers, sophomore Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (1-0, 1.64) will oppose sophomore E.J. Encinosa (0-1, 6.00) tomorrow at 3 p.m., live on Sun Sports. 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

 

Game Notes 

  • Florida increased its school-record winning streak at McKethan Stadium to 22 games.
  • The Gators have won seven of the last eight games against the Hurricanes.
  • UF has won four of five games against Atlantic Coast Conference teams this season.
  • The Gator pitching staff tied a season high with 13 strikeouts.
  • Florida bettered its strikeout-to-walk ratio at home to 70-8, while continuing its streak to eight-or-more strikeouts in each game this season.
  • Through seven home games, the Gators are averaging 4,225 fans. Florida had just five 2010 regular-season games with a higher attendance.
  • Daniel Pigott extended his team-high hitting streak to eight games. Through nine games this season, Pigott is batting .536 (15-for-28) with nine RBI, four runs and three doubles.
  • The Orange and Blue are batting .364 (40-for-110) with runners in scoring position this year.
  • Florida opponents are now 9-for-62 (.145) with runners in scoring position this season, including 2-for-12 (.167) tonight.
  • Through the first nine games of 2011, UF has outscored its opponents 14-1 through the first two innings.
  • The Gators improved to 7-for-12 (.545) hitting with the bases loaded in 2011.
  • Florida has collected 26 two-out RBI this year, while allowing just four.
  • Brian Johnson tied his career high with nine strikeouts. Johnson last accomplished the feat April 25, 2010 vs. Arkansas. The southpaw has yet to allow a run in 17 innings pitched this season. Left-handed hitters are hitting just 1-for-11 (.090) off him.
  • The Gators improved to 47-for-126 (.373) against left-handed pitchers this season.
  • In 11 career games against Miami, Preston Tucker is 16-for-38 (.421) with seven walks, six runs, five RBI, four doubles and one home run. 
  • Josh Adams recorded a season-high three hits and knocked in a season-best three RBI.
  • Eight of nine Florida starters collected hits.
  • Redshirt sophomore Vickash Ramjit had his first at bat as a Gator and junior Tyler Thompson made his season debut this evening.

 

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