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Sunday March 6, 2011No. 1 Baseball Sweeps No. 24 Miami, 5-3

Gainesville, Fla.

No. 1 Florida (10-1) used a three-run sixth inning to snap a 2-2 tie on its way to a 5-3 victory over No. 24 Miami (4-7) to complete a weekend sweep on Sunday afternoon in front of 4,114 fans at McKethan Stadium. The Gators had never been perfect against the Hurricanes in a three-game set in Gainesville and took all three meetings from the Hurricanes for only the second time in school history (Feb. 17-19, 2006).

 

In addition, UF was undefeated in the regular-season series versus Miami for just the seventh time following 2-0 triumphs in 1948 (Gainesville), 1954 (Coral Gables), 1956 (Coral Gables), 1976 (Gainesville) and 1978 (Gainesville) and the 3-0 sweep in 2006 (Coral Gables). Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s club has now taken nine of the last 10 encounters from the Hurricanes, including six in a row. The 10-1 start for the Gators equals the squad’s best since 2003.

 

Junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (3-for-4) broke the stalemate with a lead-off homer off sophomore Eric Whaley (2-1) and junior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (1-for-4) came through with a two-run double off freshman reliever Adam Sargent later in the sixth to provide added insurance. Junior Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) (1-1) retired all eight Hurricanes to earn his first win of the campaign, while junior Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) recorded the final three outs after entering the ballgame with a pair of runners board and none out to collect his first career save.

 

“(UM pitcher Eric) Whaley had thrown me fastballs the first two at bats and I figured he wouldn’t throw me a third one,” Tucker said. “Early in that (sixth) inning he had started off a bunch of the lefties with off-speed. So, I figured I was going to get an off-speed pitch away and I got was I was looking for.”

 

“Tommy (Toledo) was outstanding,” O’Sullivan said. “I think he pitched two and two thirds innings and kind of settled things down for us. He was outstanding and has been throwing the ball really well. That’s what upperclassmen do, they come in kind of slow things down a little bit.”

 

 Sophomore Zeke DeVoss (2-for-5) and freshman Shane Rowland (2-for-3) began the game with consecutive singles off freshman Karsten Whitson (Chipley, Fla.) before the right-hander had sophomore Michael Broad pop up a sacrifice attempt for the first out. Whitson fanned junior Rony Rodriguez and had freshman Brad Fieger ground out to escape the jam.

 

After Whaley struck out the first two Gators of the game, Tucker laced his fifth double of the season to right field. UM freshman center fielder Dale Carey made a diving catch to rob sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) of a potential RBI single to end the inning.

 

Florida used a two-out rally to seize a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) drew a walk with one down and freshman Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) (2-for-4) picked an opportune time for his first career RBI with a two-out double into right center that eluded a strong effort by sophomore right fielder Chantz Mack. Senior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) poked a single through the left side of the infield that would have left runners on the corners but a fielding error by DeVoss in left enabled Powers to come across with the second run.

 

The Hurricanes countered with a run in the third on a one-out RBI single into right field by Rowland. Sophomore Stephen Perez (2-for-4) had led off with a double and taken third on a wild pitch before Whitson had DeVoss fly out to left. Following Rowland’s hit that snapped the Gators’ scoreless streak at 13.0 innings dating back to the eighth inning on Friday night, Broad singled into left field for a pair of runners aboard. Whitson responded with his second strikeout of Rodriguez and retired Fieger on an infield fly to preserve the 2-1 advantage.

 

Mack started the fourth with a single up the middle and was sacrificed into scoring position by junior Harold Martinez. A grounder by Carey advanced Mack to third before Whitson made Perez his fourth strikeout victim to complete the frame.

 

The Hurricanes used a two-out wild pitch to tie the game at two runs apiece in the fifth. DeVoss doubled to right field to open the inning and was sacrificed to third on a bunt by Rowland. Whitson then fielded a tapper by Broad for the second out, holding the runner in the process. On a 3-2 pitch to Rodriguez, the right-hander uncorked a wild pitch that scored DeVoss and resulted in a walk. The Gators kept the game tied by throwing out Rodriguez attempting to steal second base. In the bottom of the inning, Florida wasted a leadoff double by Powers, as Whaley set down the next three batters. 

 

Toledo replaced Whitson (5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 4 K) prior to the sixth and put the Hurricanes down in order. The Gators erupted for three runs on three extra-base hits in the home part of the inning, highlighted by a round-tripper from Tucker and a two-run double by Pigott, to build a 5-2 lead. Tucker sent Whaley’s initial offering into the left-field bleachers for his team-best third homer to put UF back on top, 3-2. After sophomore Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) delivered a one-out double, Whaley (5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER) was replaced by Sargent. Zunino earned a free pass for a couple of Gators on base and Pigott raised his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-run double that boosted Florida’s lead to 5-2 and prompted another call to the bullpen. Junior Sam Robinson induced back-to-back grounders by Powers and Adams to keep the deficit at three runs.

 

Sophomore Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.) legged out an infield hit with one down in the seventh and swiped second base for his first theft of the season. Tucker collected his third hit of the afternoon with a single and a fielder’s choice by Maddox erased Tucker and left runners on the corners with two down. Robinson stranded the runners by having Johnson ground out.

 

Toledo retired all eight Miami batters he faced over 2.2 innings and had two strikeouts before turning the ball over to sophomore Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) with two down in the eighth. The southpaw whiffed senior pinch hitter Chris Pelaez to close the frame.

 

With Miami down to its final three outs, Rodriguez walked Fieger and sophomore pinch hitter Cade Kreuter to start the ninth and junior DeSclafani was summoned from the bullpen. The righty had Martinez fly out, advancing Fieger to third, and then struck out junior pinch hitter David Villasuso. Perez narrowed the gap to 5-3 with an RBI single before DeSclafani ended the game by having DeVoss ground out.

 

The Gators return to action on Tuesday by hosting Georgia Southern (7-5) at 7 p.m. The teams have not met since a 10-3 Florida win on April 7, 1993. 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 has claimed its last 24 outings at McKethan Stadium.

·         The five doubles by the Gators matched their season high set against Florida Atlantic on Feb. 22.

·         The three-game series drew 13,552 fans, the fifth-highest total at McKethan Stadium.

·         With three homers, Preston Tucker has half of Florida’s round-trippers this year.

·         Zack Powers had the first multiple-hit game of his career.

·         The Gators’ three saves have come from three different pitchers: Anthony DeSclafani, Steven Rodriguez and Tommy Toledo.

·         DeSclafani earned a win in game two and saved the finale; he has not yielded any runs in 9.2 innings this season.

·         UF’s pitchers registered 28 strikeouts and issued six walks over 27 innings this weekend.

·         Josh Adams went 4-for-8 (.500), Powers was 3-for-6 (.500) and Daniel Pigott was 4-for-9 (.444) over the three games.

 

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