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Tuesday March 22, 2011No. 1 Florida Overpowers Winthrop, 22-5

Gainesville, Fla.

Sophomores Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) and Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) each belted a grand slam and No. 1 Florida (19-2) banged out a season-high 24 hits in downing Winthrop (9-10), 22-5, in the opener of a two-game set on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium. Fontana was 3-for-5 with a career-high six RBI out of the leadoff spot and Zunino was 2-for-2 and equaled his career high of four RBI as all nine UF starters had at least one hit and seven players turned in multiple-hit outings.

 

The Gators’ ninth-straight victory is their longest in head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s four-year tenure. UF scored multiple runs in seven  of its eight at bats and also had long balls from senior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (3-for-3, two RBI) and sophomore Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (2-for-4, two RBI). The Orange and Blue had not scored more than 20 runs in a game since a 24-2 win at Auburn on May 11, 2009, or exceeded 20 hits in an outing since totaling 20 during a 13-3 triumph over Siena on Feb. 25, 2010.

 

“Obviously, we swung the bat really well tonight,” O’Sullivan said. “It was just one of those nights where we saw the ball well. I really liked our swings, to the middle of the field they were short and crisp. We got a lot of line drives, we hit a lot of balls hard and every time you have all nine starters get hits and seven guys have multiple-hit nights it’s obviously a great night offensively.”

 

“We got a lot of hitters’ counts, and that’s a big part of having offensive explosions,” Fontana said. “That’s what we did tonight. We stayed steady throughout the entire game and put up runs almost every inning. We had a lot of guys that came into the game and contributed. We were all seeing the ball well. 22 runs – we can’t take it into tomorrow, but we had a good night. Every day’s a new day. Baseball is a game of failure, and if you bring it into the next game it’s just not going to help you out.”

 

After sophomore Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) (1-0) retired the side in order to begin the game, Fontana raised his hitting streak to seven games with a leadoff single. Redshirt senior Wade Newman (0-2) set down the next two hitters before sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (3-for-4) singled up the middle. Redshirt junior center fielder Cam Walter misplayed Maddox’s hit and the ball rolled all the way to the wall, allowing both Fontana and Maddox to score, for a 2-0 lead.

 

Winthrop cut the deficit in half in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by freshman TJ Olesczuk. Junior Brett Thomas had opened the frame with a double into right field and went to third on a grounder by junior Chas Crane before Olesczuk lofted a fly ball into right field that resulted in a 2-1 score.

 

Florida scored twice in the third on an RBI grounder by Johnson and a sacrifice fly by junior Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) to build a 4-1 advantage. The Gators loaded the bases with three-straight singles by junior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (3-for-5, two runs), junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) and Maddox. Johnson had grounder to first base to score Pigott and McMahan delivered a sac fly to center to plate Tucker.

 

Senior Eddie Rohan (2-for-3, two RBI) began the fourth with a solo shot into the left-field bleachers to bring the Eagles within 4-2. After issuing a one-out walk to Crane and working on a pre-determined pitch count, Rodriguez (3.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R) was replaced by junior Justin Poovey (Granite Falls, N.C.). The right-hander induced an inning-ending 5-6-3 double play by Olesczuk.

 

Florida answered with a leadoff homer by Adams and an RBI grounder by Tucker in the home part of the frame for a 6-2 margin. It was Adams’ third round-tripper of the year and his second-straight outing with a big fly. Sophomore Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.) (3-for-5, three runs) followed with a single, moved over with his third stolen base and Fontana drew a walk. After Pigott advanced his teammates into scoring position with his team-leading sixth sacrifice, redshirt sophomore Mitchell Knox was summoned to replace Newman (3.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER). Tucker’s grounder to shortstop brought home Washington with the sixth run.

 

The Eagles trimmed the deficit to 6-4 on two hits and an error in the fifth. Sophomore Matt Pierpont started the inning with a base-hit into center and senior Adam Gliebe’s grounder was misplayed by junior third baseman Jeff Moyer (Winter Springs, Fla.) for two runners aboard. Walters sacrificed his teammates over with a bunt and Pierpont came racing home on a wild pitch by Poovey. Senior Tyler Cook (2-for-5) collected his second hit of the contest with an RBI single into left field to bring Winthrop to within 6-4 but was gunned down trying to steal second base by McMahan. Poovey issued consecutive two-out walks to sophomore Patrick Gamblin and Rohan and was replaced by junior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.), who fanned Thomas.

 

In the bottom of the inning, Florida tallied four runs on five hits to balloon its lead to 10-4. Johnson and McMahan had back-to-back singles and were moved over on a bunt by Moyer. Adams punched an RBI single into center that scored Johnson and Washington legged out a bunt single that brought in McMahan for an 8-4 lead. Fontana cleared the bases with a two-run double, his fourth two-bagger of the campaign, to expand the margin to six runs.

 

The Gators exploded for five runs on five hits in the sixth, highlighted by a solo shot by Johnson and Fontana’s first career grand slam.

Johnson connected on his first homer with one down off redshirt junior Dominic Patterozzi, who had taken over for Knox (1.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R). Maddox had opened the inning with his third hit of the night, a single into right field, but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. Johnson launched the next pitch deep to right field for an 11-4 score. Moyer singled and then Adams and Washington earned free passes to fill the sacks. Fontana crushed a 2-1 pitch off the scoreboard overlooking right field for the Gators’ first grand slam since Johnson went yard at Alabama on May 8, 2010. It was also his first dinger since beginning the NCAA Gainesville Regional contest against Oregon State on June 5, 2010, with a jack.

 

Winthrop scored a run in the seventh off freshman Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) courtesy of an RBI single by Rohan that drove in Cook.

In the bottom of the inning, freshman Tyler Palmer (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) singled with one down and Zunino boosted his hitting streak to nine games with a double off junior Justin Hopper. Sophomore Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) hit a two-out grounder to first that Thomas missed, enabling the lead to grow to 17-5.

 

UF erupted for five more runs on three hits in the eighth, fueled by Zunino’s first grand slam, to finalize the margin at 22-5. Pigott led off with his second double of the night, junior Paul Wilson (Lakeland, Fla.) collected his first hit as a Gator with a single and redshirt sophomore Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) drew a walk to load the bases. Palmer registered his first career RBI by drawing a walk and Zunino blasted a 2-2 pitch to left field for his team-leading fifth homer.

 

The teams will meet again tomorrow at 7 p.m., with junior Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (1-0, 6.00) taking the mound against an Eagle 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

 

Game Notes

·         Florida now leads the all-time series with Winthrop, 7-3.

·         Tonight was the first time all season that the Gators had multiple home runs at McKethan Stadium.

·         UF has six round-trippers in its last two games.

·         Five different players contributed three-hit efforts.

·         Steven Rodriguez was making his second career start, first since Florida Atlantic on May 12, 2010.

·         The Gators’ two grand slams tonight were their first two of the year after totaling three in 2010.

·         Austin Maddox registered his second three-hit game of the season (USF, 3/9).

·         Kamm Washington had three hits for the first time this season and the fourth time in his career.

·         Tommy Toledo and Anthony DeSclafani closed out the contest with a scoreless inning apiece.

                                                                                                    

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