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Tuesday May 3, 2011No. 4 Florida Blanks Bethune-Cookman, 11-0

Gainesville, Fla.

Sophomore Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) cranked a pair of home runs and set a career high with seven RBI and six Gator pitchers combined on a five-hitter as No. 4 Florida (35-10) blanked Bethune-Cookman (29-20), 11-0, for its seventh-straight victory on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium. UF’s nine shutouts this season are one shy of the school record of 10 set in 1970.


The reigning SEC Player of the Week, Zunino (3-for-4) established single-season highs for homers (10) and RBI (46), increased his hitting streak to nine games and has now driven in 13 runs in his last four games. Working on a pitch count, junior left-hander Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (3-1) matched his season high of five strikeouts and allowed three hits and zero walks over 4.1 innings. He was followed to the mound by junior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) (1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 K), junior Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) (1.1 IP, 1 K), junior Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) (1.0 IP), junior Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) (0.2 IP, 2 K) and sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (0.1 IP, 1 H,).


“I thought AP (Alex Panteliodis) gave us a great start,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I think that the most important thing in mid-week games is to get off to a great start pitching- wise and I thought AP did that. Mike’s (Zunino) two-run homer in the first got us on the board first and we’ve always played well with an early lead. He has been swinging the bat really well and had a great night tonight.”


“Our pitching’s been outstanding and our bullpen has been really good but I think that the thing that is taking us to another level is our offense. I think we are swinging the bats from top to bottom. Every time I’m coming out here, we’re not talking about one or two guys; we’re talking about everyone in our lineup. There are multiple guys who are contributing.”


Zunino belted a two-run, two-out homer in the first inning to open the scoring. Junior Rayan Gonzalez (0-3) retired the first two Gator hitters before issuing a walk to junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (1-for-3, two runs, two walks). Zunino cranked the right-hander’s initial offering off of the foul pole in left field for his ninth round-tripper.


The Wildcats had a pair of runners in scoring position in the third but came away empty-handed. Junior Alejandro Sanchez had a one-out single into left field before Panteliodis fanned freshman Paul Biocic. Junior Brashad Johnson delivered a base-hit up the middle and a wild pitch enabled the runners to occupy second and third. Panteliodis worked out of trouble by striking out senior Matt Wright.


The Gators increased their lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the inning, when senior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) (2-for-5, three runs, two RBI) came home on a wild pitch. Smith had opened the frame with a double into left center, stole third and then scored on an errant pitch by Gonzalez.


Junior Nick Johnson was hit by a pitch to begin the fifth and Panteliodis had Sanchez fly out to left field. Having reached a pre-determined pitch count, Panteliodis (4.1 IP, 3 H, 5 K) was replaced by Larson. Biocic reached on an error for a couple runners aboard and Larson kept B-CU off the board by catching Brashad Johnson looking on strikes and having Wright fly out.


Florida added four runs on three hits in the home part of the inning, highlighted by a three-run dinger by Zunino, to build a 7-0 lead. Sophomore Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (1-for-3, two runs) started things off with his team-leading fifth triple off the wall in right field and Smith reached on a fielder’s choice when senior third baseman Emmanuel Castro fielded a grounder and tried to tag Fontana, who dove back to the bag and was safe. With runners on the corners, Tucker smashed an infield single to drive in Fontana and end the night for Gonzalez (4.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R). Zunino greeted sophomore reliever Jordan Dailey with a three-run bomb into the left-field bleachers to expand the margin to seven runs. Zunino’s career-best 10th homer was just the second allowed by Dailey in 42 innings this season.


UF used a couple of two-run singles by Smith and Zunino in the eighth to complete the scoring at 11-0. Redshirt sophomore Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) roped a one-out pinch-hit single off freshman Montana Durapau and junior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) followed with his team-leading 16th double before Fontana walked to fill the bases. Smith delivered a single through the left side to drive in Ramjit and Pigott and Tucker drew a walk to re-load the sacks, prompting another call to the bullpen. Zunino welcomed junior Jairo Acevedo with a two-run base-knock up the middle to give the Gators an 11-run cushion.


The Gators next head to No. 16 Arkansas (30-13/10-11 SEC) for a three-game series that begins on Thursday night at Baum Stadium. The series opener will be carried live on ESPNU.


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Game Notes

·         Florida improved to 25-0 all-time against Bethune-Cookman.

·         Mike Zunino also had two homers versus USF on April 21, 2010.

·         The Gators are now 26-4 at McKethan Stadium, having won their last seven home games.


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