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Sunday May 1, 2011No. 4 Florida Sweeps Ole Miss, 7-2

Gainesville, Fla.

Sophomore Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) was a career-best 4-for-4 with three doubles and four RBI and freshman right-hander Karsten Whitson (Chipley, Fla.) (6-0) twirled six scoreless innings to help No. 4 Florida (34-10/17-4 SEC) complete a three-game sweep of Ole Miss (24-20/9-12 SEC) with a 7-2 triumph on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium.


It was the Gators’ first sweep of the Rebels since March 15-17, 2002 (24-5, 7-6, 17-6) and UF now has taken all three games from four different league foes (LSU, Tennessee, Alabama and Ole Miss) this season. Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s club has claimed its last seven SEC outings and is a riding a six-game winning streak.


“They aren’t easy to come by (SEC sweeps), especially against a team like Ole Miss,” O’Sullivan said. “They’ve got a lot of history and a lot of tradition and they’re always in the postseason. I think the thing that I’m most proud of with this team right now is the way they came out today and played. Most teams would be satisfied with two wins and winning the series but the way they came out and swung the bats aggressively and played great defense was impressive.”  


“Obviously, Karsten (Whitson) had a great start. I’m awfully proud of the way he pitched and it was a tough lineup to throw to with six left-handers. He hasn’t had that look very often in high school you’re never going to see a lineup with six left-handers. Karsten used his secondary pitches and made some pitches when he had to, and obviously the bullpen was great too. I thought that our approach today was outstanding.” 


The Gators seized a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (1-for-2, two runs) and an RBI single by junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-4, two RBI). Senior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) (1-for-2, two runs) had opened the frame with a double to left field and advanced to third on a wild pitch by junior Austin Wright (4-4). Fontana drove in his teammate with his team-leading fifth sac fly of the season into left field. Zunino raised his hitting streak to eight games with a one-out double to left center and Tucker followed with a base-knock up the middle to score Zunino for a two-run margin.


Zunino roped a two-run double in the third that increased UF’s lead to 4-0. Redshirt sophomore Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) (2-for-4) started the inning with a bunt single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Smith pushed his teammate to third with a grounder and Fontana was hit by a pitch for runners on the corners. Zunino cleared the bases with his second two-bagger of the day to left center and swiped third for his sixth theft of the season. After retiring Tucker on an infield fly, Wright (2.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R) was replaced by freshman Bobby Wahl, who struck out sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.).


Senior Matt Smith (2-for-4) had a one-out double in the fourth for the Rebels and Whitson responded by having senior Matt Tracy fly out to center field before striking out junior Matt Snyder for his third K.


Freshman Will Allen (2-for-3) singled with one down in the fifth and Whitson had freshman Austin Anderson fly out to right field before a wild pitch moved the runner into scoring position. Whitson ended the inning by having sophomore Tanner Mathis ground out.


Florida tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the frame, highlighted by a two-run double by Zunino and an RBI single by Tucker, to build a 7-0 advantage. With one down, Smith was hit by a pitch and Fontana followed with a double for a pair of Gators in scoring position. Zunino sliced a two-run double down the left-field line to become the first UF player with three doubles in an outing since Jerico Weitzel accomplished the feat at Tennessee on April 11, 2010. Moments later, Tucker poked an RBI single into left center to drive in Zunino.


Wahl recorded the first two outs in the sixth before Ramjit singled and Smith drew a walk on four pitches. Junior Jake Morgan replaced Wahl (3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R) and had Fontana ground out.


Ole Miss took advantage of a Gator error to avert the shutout in the seventh inning. Sophomore Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) took over for Whitson (6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 K, 2 BB) and leadoff batter Snyder sent a fly ball to left field. However, Pigott misplayed it for a two-base error. Rodriguez fanned senior Miles Hamblin but uncorked a wild pitch to move Snyder to third. Allen put the Rebels on the board with an RBI single into right field.


Smith belted his seventh homer of the year with two down in the eighth off junior Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) to finalize the scoring at 7-2. Florida held an 11-5 edge in hits and was bolstered by five doubles. The Gators will complete their seven-game homestand by facing Bethune-Cookman (29-19/15-0 MEAC) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. UF defeated the Wildcats in the 2010 NCAA Gainesville Regional, 7-3.  


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Game Notes

·         Florida batted .368 (39-for-106) in the series, with 16 extra-base hits (12 doubles, three homers, one triple).

·         The Gators enjoyed a 24-6 scoring advantage over the three games.

·         UF’s pitching staff compiled a 1.67 earned run average and had 26 strikeouts and three walks over 27 innings.

·         In the series, Mike Zunino was 7-for-12 (.583) with eight RBI, four doubles, four runs, a homer and a slugging percentage of 1.167.

·         Vickash Ramjit hit .667 (6-for-9) against Ole Miss with three runs and a pair of doubles.

·         Josh Adams batted .417 (5-for-12) on the weekend but saw his season-best nine-game hitting streak end with a 0-for-4 performance today.

·         The Gators are 25-4 at McKethan Stadium, including 10-2 in SEC play.

·         Both Brian Johnson and Bryson Smith were 4-for-10 (.400) in the series.


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