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Sunday March 13, 2011No. 1 Florida Sweeps Rhode Island, 8-6, Matches Best Start In School History

Gainesville, Fla.

Senior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) was 2-for-5 with a three-run double and the duo of junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) and sophomore Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) tallied two RBI apiece to help No. 1 Florida (14-2) defeat Rhode Island (7-6), 8-6, to complete a sweep of the three-game series on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium.

 

It was the Gators’ fourth-consecutive win and also the club’s fourth-straight weekend sweep to start the campaign after previously taking care of USF (Feb. 18-20), Boston College (Feb. 24-27) and Miami (Fla.) (March 4-6). With the victory, the Gators equaled their most wins through 16 games in school history, last done in 1992. The other times that it happened were in 1952, 1963, 1977, 1985 and 1989.

 

Freshman Jeff Roy led off the game with a bunt single and was sacrificed to second by redshirt junior Jeff Cammans (2-for-4). Freshman right-hander Karsten Whitson (Chipley, Fla.) (3-0) answered with back-to-back strikeouts of senior Kyle Borden and senior Tom Coulombe (2-for-4, two runs).

 

Tucker (3-for-4) provided the Gators with a 1-0 lead in the first inning with an RBI grounder off redshirt senior Stephen Peterson (0-3). Sophomore Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (2-for-3, two runs) opened the frame with his third double of the season to right field and was sacrificed to third on a bunt by junior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.). Tucker collected his team-leading 16th RBI with a ground ball to second that brought in Fontana. Sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) drew a two-out walk and senior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) was hit by a pitch before a wild pitch advanced them both into scoring position. Peterson struck out Zunino to hold the Rams’ deficit at a run.

 

URI used a two-out RBI single in the second by redshirt sophomore Pat Fortunato (2-for-4, two RBI) to even the game. Whitson retired the first two batters of the inning before walking junior Milan Adams on four pitches. Redshirt Dan Haverstick followed with a base-hit through the left side for two runners aboard and Fortunato roped a 1-2 offering up the middle to tie the contest.

 

Fontana moved the Gators back in front, 2-1, with a two-out single in the bottom of the frame. Junior Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) (1-for-4, two runs) struck out to begin the stanza but reached first base on a throwing error by Adams. McMahan moved into scoring position with his third stolen base and was able to take third on an errant relay throw by Adams. With two down, Fontana sliced a single into right field to score McMahan. Pigott stroked his team-best ninth double on the left-field line, pushing Fontana to third, and Tucker earned a free pass to fill the bags. Peterson worked out of the jam by having Maddox ground out.

 

Zunino, McMahan and Adams had consecutive one-out singles in the third to load the bases. However, Peterson set down Palmer on an infield fly and Fontana on a grounder to preserve the 2-1 count.

 

Tucker singled with one down in the fourth, ending the afternoon for Peterson (3.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER). Maddox greeted senior reliever Brian Bodjiak with a base-hit up the middle and Smith drew a walk to load the bases. Zunino delivered a two-run single into left field for a 4-1 margin but Smith was gunned down at third base.

 

Whitson retired seven Rams in a row before issuing a one-out walk to Haverstick in the fifth. After a groundout by Fortunato, the righty plunked Roy. Cammans came through with a two-out single into right center to drive in Haverstick for a 4-2 count. With runners on the corners, Whitson had Borden ground out to Adams to keep Florida ahead by two.

 

Junior Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) replaced Whitson (5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 4 K) prior to the sixth and surrendered a leadoff double to Coulombe. A failed pickoff attempt by Maronde pushed Coulombe to third base and an RBI grounder by junior Mike LeBel narrowed the gap to 4-3. After redshirt junior Greg Annarummo (2-for-3) had a pinch-hit single, Maronde responded with strikeouts of Adams and Haverstick.

 

Tucker began the home part of the inning with his sixth double off junior reliever Anthony Pisani and Smith was hit for the second time in the game with one out, prompting another call to the bullpen. Redshirt sophomore Bobby Dean uncorked a wild pitch to move both runners into scoring position and Zunino was walked intentionally to fill the bags. A fielder’s choice by McMahan forced Tucker at home for the second out and Adams launched a double to deep center field that cleared the bases for a 7-3 advantage. 

 

In the seventh, Fontana drew a leadoff walk from redshirt senior Kyle Regnault and moved over with his third theft. Pigott laid down his second sac bunt of the day to put Fontana on third and Tucker expanded UF’s lead to 8-3 with his second double of the afternoon. Senior Dan Johnson took over for Regnault (0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R) and stranded Tucker on second.

 

Senior Matt Campbell (Tampa, Fla.) came in for Maronde (2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R) at the outset of the eighth and issued a leadoff walk to Coulombe, a double to LeBel and an infield single to Annarummo to load the bases with none out. Adams brought the Rams within 8-5 on an RBI single into right field and Campbell answered by having freshman pinch hitter Pat Quinn hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Fortunato ripped a two-out single into right center to drive in Annarummo for an 8-6 count, ending the afternoon for Campbell (0.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R). Junior Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) punched out Roy to end the inning.

 

With the Rams down to their final three outs, DeSclafani set down the first two hitters in the ninth before Coulombe singled into right field. Senior pinch runner Kenny Burns stole second and LeBel walked to bring the potential go-ahead run to the plate but DeSclafani caught Annarummo looking on strikes to notch his second save. Each team had 12 hits, while Florida matched its season high with a dozen runners left on base.

 

The Gators return to action on Tuesday by hosting No. 5 Florida State (15-1/3-0 ACC) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the second of four regular-season meetings between the Sunshine State rivals. The Seminoles posted a 5-3 win on March 1 at the Florida Four in Tampa.

 

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

·         The Orange and Blue is 5-0 against Rhode Island and boosted its mark at McKethan Stadium to 12-1.

·         UF batted .349 (38-for-109) over the three games, with 11 doubles, two triples and a homer.

·         The Gators were 9-for-11 on the basepaths on the weekend.

·         Five of Florida’s 12 hits were doubles, including two by Preston Tucker.

·         Tucker led the club with a .545 (6-for-11) clip on the weekend and scored three runs.

·         Josh Adams had a team-high seven RBI against the Rams and hit .267 (4-for-15).

·         The Gators swiped three bases this afternoon.

·         Daniel Pigott became the first UF player with two sacrifice hits in a game this season.

                                                                                                    

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