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Sunday April 3, 2011No. 3 Florida Sweeps Tennessee, 9-1

Gainesville, Fla.

No. 3 Florida (24-5/7-2 SEC) broke open a 1-0 game with three runs in the sixth and five in the seventh to post a 9-1 victory over Tennessee (19-9/2-7 SEC) to complete a three-game sweep on Sunday afternoon in front of 4,121 fans at McKethan Stadium. The Gators allowed three runs in the series and limited the Vols to a .160 (15-for-94) batting average, while hitting .361 (35-for-97) and totaling 23 runs. UF has now taken eight of the last nine meetings between the Eastern Division rivals, including consecutive sweeps in Gainesville.

 

Freshman right-hander Karsten Whitson (Chipley, Fla.) (4-0) picked up his first SEC win with five scoreless innings in which he permitted five hits, registered six strikeouts and issued three walks. Junior Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) came in with runners on second and third and none out with UF clinging to a 1-0 lead in the sixth and kept Tennessee off the scoreboard. He was followed to the mound by junior Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) who retired all five batters he faced. The Vols avoided their second shutout of the weekend with a two-out, pinch-hit RBI single by senior Tyler Horne in the ninth inning.

 

UF reached double-digits in hits for the third-straight contest, using a 12-hit attack to subdue the Vols. Sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) was 3-for-3 and delivered a bases-loaded two-run single in the seventh, sophomore Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) went 2-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs out of the leadoff spot and junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) went 2-for-4 and scored twice. For the Vols, freshman Andrew Toles was 2-for-4.

 

Toles opened the game with a single through the left side off Whitson but was erased at second base on a fielderís choice by junior Zach Osborne. A grounder by senior Khayyan Norfolk advanced Osborne into scoring position and Whitson caught senior Matt Duffy looking on strikes to end the frame.

 

After freshman Ethan Bennett drew a one-out walk in the second and junior Davis Morgan flew out to center field, Whitson issued back-to-back walks to sophomore Chris Fritts and senior Josh Liles to fill the sacks. Whitson escaped the jam by having Toles pop out to sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) in foul territory. †

 

The Gators took advantage of three walks and a hit to take a 1-0 lead in the home part of the inning but left the bases full. Zunino started things off with a walk from junior Matt Ramsey (0-1) and Maddox reached via a walk with one down. Sophomore Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (2-for-3) singled into center field to load the bases and senior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) walked to bring in Zunino with the opening run of the contest. Ramsey set down freshman Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) on strikes and had Fontana fly out to left field to hold the deficit at one run.

 

Sophomore Nick Blount replaced Ramsey (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 3 BB) at the outset of the third and retired the Gators in order. Although Bennett had a one-out single in the fourth, Whitson responded with a strikeout of Ramsey and had Fritts ground out to close the stanza.

 

In the fifth, Toles doubled down the left-field line with one out and Osborne grounded out to move his teammate to third base. Whitson caught Norfolk looking for his sixth strikeout of the day to keep UF in front, 1-0.

 

Tennessee put its first two runners aboard in the sixth but was unable to score. Duffy began the inning with an infield hit and junior Charley Thurber followed with a double to right field, ending the afternoon for Whitson. The righty gave up five hits over five-plus scoreless innings, with six strikeouts and three walks. Toledo induced a grounder from Bennett to third base for the first out and then had Ramsey hit a comebacker to the mound which Toledo fielded and flipped to Zunino to get a sliding Duffy at the dish for out number two. Toledo had Fritts fly to center field to strand the runners and preserve the Gatorsí lead.

 

UF countered with three runs on three hits and an error in the bottom of the sixth to take a 4-0 lead. Zunino led off with his sixth double to the base of the wall in left field to extend his hitting streak to 17 games and Tucker smacked his 10th two-bagger into the gap in right center to plate Zunino. Freshman Nick Williams took over for Blount (3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R) and was greeted by a single from Maddox that ricocheted off the hurlerís leg for runners on the corners. Maddox raced down to second on a wild pitch and Johnson drew a walk to fill the bases with none out. Williams had Adams fly out and then fielded a grounder by Powers and had a low throw home, enabling Tucker to score on the error for a 3-0 score. Fontanaís third sacrifice fly of the season brought across Maddox with the fourth run before junior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) grounded out to end the inning.

 

Liles started the seventh with a double into right field, bringing Maronde from the bullpen for Toledo, who yielded one hit over one inning of work. Maronde set down the Vols without any damage by fanning Toles, having Osborne ground out and having Norfolk fly out.

 

Florida tacked on five more runs on six hits in the seventh to build a 9-0 advantage. Sophomore Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.) singled up the middle and went to second on a passed ball before Zunino earned a free pass. A base-hit into left field by Tucker loaded the bases with none out and Maddox had a two-run single into shallow left to give the Gators a 6-0 margin and prompt another pitching change. Junior T.J. Thornton came in for Williams (1.0 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 4 ER) and Johnson sliced a single into right field to re-load the bases and Adams roped an RBI single into left field for a seven-run cushion. Sophomore Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to bring in Maddox and base-hit by Fontana to right field scored redshirt junior pinch runner Paul Wilson (Lakeland, Fla.) with the ninth run.

 

Fritts drew a one-out walk in the ninth from junior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) and went to second on a wild pitch before the right-hander struck out Liles. Fritts went to third on a wild pitch by freshman reliever Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) and scored UTís lone run on a single into right field by Horne.

 

The Gators will host UCF (19-9/2-4 C-USA) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in their final home game before embarking on eight-game road trip beginning Friday night at Mississippi State (19-8/4-4 SEC?). UF dealt the Knights a 7-6 setback last February.

 

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 teamís Twitter account @GatorZoneBB at www.twitter.com/GatorZoneBB.†

Game Notes

         Head coach Kevin OíSullivan improved to 9-3 (.750) against Tennessee.

         Mike Zunino scored a career-high three runs.

         Karsten Whitsonís six strikeouts were the most heís tallied since his first outing against USF on Feb. 20, when he had nine.

         The Gators registered their first errorless game since March 19 at LSU, a span of nine games.

         Nolan Fontana batted .545 (6-for-11) and racked up a team-leading eight RBI on the weekend.

         The Gators batted around in the seventh inning for the second-straight game.

         Preston Tucker had his 13th multi-hit game this season.

         Austin Maddox went 3-for-3 and registered his fourth multi-RBI game.

 

 

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