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Friday June 17, 2011UF Baseball To Meet Texas In Opening Round Of College World Series

Gainesville, Fla.

The University of Florida baseball team (50-17) will begin action at the 65th NCAA College World Series on Saturday when it faces Texas (49-17) at 7 p.m. on ESPN. The game will be carried on the Gator Radio Network, Country 103.7 The Gator and on WRUF SportsRadio 850. The double-elimination event will be held at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha for the first time.

 

Florida clinched its seventh trip to the NCAA College World Series last Sunday with an 8-6 win over Mississippi State in the third and deciding game of the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional at McKethan Stadium. The Gators nailed down their second-straight CWS appearance for the first time in school history. Texas punched its ticket to Omaha with a 4-2 victory over Arizona State in game three of the NCAA Austin Super Regional on June 12.

 

Florida and defending national champion South Carolina have the unique distinction of being the only two teams to play in the final College World Series held at Rosenblatt Stadium and participate in the initial CWS held at the TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.

 

Florida has made previous CWS trips in 1988 (1-2, tied for fifth), 1991 (2-2, tied for third), 1996 (2-2, tied for third), 1998 (0-2, tied for seventh), 2005 (3-3, national runner-up) and 2010 (0-2, tied for seventh). Against their foes within the 2011 eight-team bracket, the only teams the Gators have faced in Omaha are California and Texas. UF knocked the Golden Bears out of the 1988 event with a 6-5 triumph, while the Longhorns swept the Orange and Blue in the 2005 CWS Championship Series, 4-2 and 6-2.

 

After bringing home its second-straight Southeastern Conference regular-season title, a crown it shared with fellow SEC Eastern Division members South Carolina and Vanderbilt, and winning its first SEC Tournament championship since 1991, Florida was awarded the second national seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators swept the NCAA Gainesville Regional with victories over Manhattan (17-3) and Miami (Fla.) (5-4, 11-4) and then defeated Mississippi State twice (11-1, 3-4, 8-6) in a classic Gainesville Super Regional to advance to the College World Series.

 

Fourth-year skipper Kevin O’Sullivan will be bringing a team to Omaha for the second-straight campaign as a head coach. As an assistant under Jack Leggett at Clemson, O’Sullivan served on staffs that made the 2000, 2002 and 2006 tourneys. He joins Joe Arnold (1988, 1991) and Andy Lopez (1996, 1998) as Gator head coaches who have made multiple trips to Omaha.

 

Junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) clubbed a three-run homer in the seventh inning to turn a 6-4 deficit into an eventual 8-6 victory for Florida over Mississippi State on Sunday afternoon. The Gators used a season-high five homers, their most in a game since six against Florida Atlantic on June 6, 2010, to account for their eight runs. Florida jumped out to a 4-0 lead on a solo homer by sophomore Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (2-for-4) in the first inning and back-to-back homers by junior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (3-for-3, three RBI, two homers) and redshirt sophomore Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) in the second inning. The Bulldogs narrowed the gap to 4-3 in the fourth on a three- run blast by Saturday’s hero, senior Nick Vickerson (2-for-5, four RBI), and used three two-out runs in the seventh to take a 6-4 lead.

 

In UF’s seventh at bat, senior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) and sophomore Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) drew walks to start the frame and were sacrificed into scoring position on a bunt by Zunino. Tucker (2-for-3) then cranked a three-run homer to straightaway center field to give Florida a 7-6 lead. It was the 40th homer of his career, 14th of the campaign and was the eighth of his career in NCAA Tourney action to set a school record.

 

Pigott provided the Gators with a valuable insurance run in the eighth with a leadoff homer, marking the first time he had a pair of dingers in the same contest. Redshirt junior Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) (6-3) retired the first two Bulldogs in the ninth before having Vickerson fly out to left field to trigger a wild celebration on the field. Over 2.1 innings, Toledo allowed two hits and two runs to pick up the victory.

 

Senior Nick Vickerson delivered a game-winning two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to lift Mississippi State to a dramatic 4-3 victory on Saturday afternoon. With MSU trailing by a run and down to its final three outs, redshirt senior Jarrod Parks led off with a single through the left side. Sophomore Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) (3-2) was summoned from the bullpen and Vickerson (2-for-4, two runs) smacked the lefty’s first pitch into the left-field bleachers to help the Bulldogs even the best-of-three series.

Junior Caleb Reed (1-1) threw 5.1 innings out of the bullpen, in which he allowed four hits and a run, to earn the decision. The right-hander came into the contest with Florida holding a 2-0 lead in fourth and had kept the Gators off the scoreboard until junior Tyler Thompson’s (Tequesta, Fla.) two-out RBI triple in the eighth scored Zunino for a 3-2 UF lead. Freshman starter Karsten Whitson (Chipley, Fla.) held Mississippi State scoreless until the seventh, when the Bulldogs plated two runs on four hits.

 

Zunino drove in three runs and Florida scored in each of the first five innings to defeat Mississippi State, 11-1, in the opening game of the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional. Sophomore right-hander Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (10-3) held the Bulldogs scoreless into the seventh inning and was supported by a balanced offense that plated four runs in the first, two in the second, one in the third, two in the fourth and one in the fifth to build a 10-run cushion. Over eight full innings, his longest stint in NCAA play, Randall registered a season-high eight strikeouts, scattered six hits and permitted one run.

 

This season marked the 10th time that McKethan Stadium has hosted NCAA Regional action and the third-straight year for the first time in school history. The Gators have now gone on to the College World Series from Gainesville on six occasions: 1991, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2010 and 2011. Florida is 35-10 (.778) on its own turf during NCAA play and claimed five of the six outings on its own turf this season. O’Sullivan is 13-3 (.813) in NCAA play at home, 9-0 (1.000) in Regionals and 4-3 (.571) in Super Regionals.

                               

Florida and California were the only two programs to reach the NCAA College World Series in both baseball and softball this season. The Gator softball team, under the direction of Tim Walton, reached the championship round of the WCWS for the second time in the past three years before succumbing to Arizona State.

 

Gator Bytes

*Kevin O’Sullivan has a 13-7 (.650) NCAA Tournament mark, going 9-2 (.818) in Regionals, 4-3 (.571) in Super Regionals and 0-2 (.000) at the College World Series.

*O’Sullivan was the first Florida head coach to capture three NCAA Regional titles and was the first to lead the Gators to three Super Regionals, of which they’ve now won two.

*In his four years at Florida, O’Sullivan is 124-26 (.827) at McKethan Stadium, 40-38 (.513) at opponents’ stadiums and 9-16 (.360) at neutral sites.

*UF is 34-8 (.810) against non-ranked teams and 16-9 (.640) versus top-25 foes in ’11.

*The Gators were 36-9 (.800) in games that are part of a weekend series and were 7-7 (.500) in mid-week contests. The Orange and Blue had a 13-2 (.867) weekend series ledger, with eight sweeps.

*The Orange and Blue was 20-15 (.571) against the NCAA Tourney field, meaning that 15 of its 16 defeats on the campaign came against clubs that reached Regionals. The lone exception was Kentucky (14-1 loss on May 20).

*Florida’s total of 50 wins equals its most since 1996, when the Gators were 50-18 and reached the CWS for the third time. UF’s record for victories is 51, set by the 1991 club that was 51-21.

*Senior Josh Adams continues to climb the school’s career charts. Entering the NCAA College World Series, he ranks first in starts (248) and games played (247). He is also second in at bats (924 - Mark Ellis, 1996-99, 941 is first) and is second with 283 hits, trailing only Ellis (319).

*With 120 career walks, Adams is tied for ninth on the school’s all-time list with Jeff Corsaletti (2002-05). Adams is currently fifth in career RBI (187) behind teammate Preston Tucker (202) and No. 3 Ben Harrison (193, 2001-04). Tucker is a member of the 200-RBI club, behind only Brad Wilkerson (214, 1996-98) and Matt LaPorta (206, 2004-07).

*Florida’s bullpen is 16-7 with 14 saves and a 3.25 ERA in 252.1 innings, its starters are 34-10 with a 2.84 ERA in 345.2 innings.

*The Gators have a .343 batting average against left-handed pitchers and a .293 clip against right-handers.

*Florida holds a 435-234 scoring advantage, led by a 63-15 disparity in the second inning and a 63-34 margin in the seventh. UF has the edge in every inning except the ninth (16-15) and has 4-0 advantage in extra innings.

*Florida is 38-7 (.844) when scoring first and 40-3 (.930) when out-hitting its foe.

*UF has 67 homers this season and boasts a 34-6 (.850) record when going yard.

*The Gators have played error-free baseball in 26 games (21-5) and their fielding percentage of .975 ranks first in the SEC. UF did not commit any errors in the Gainesville Super Regional last weekend and has been perfect in five-consecutive games.

*Florida has totaled 137 two-out RBI, including 22 by sophomore Mike Zunino, 19 apiece by junior Daniel Pigott and Tucker, 14 by Adams and sophomore Nolan Fontana.

*Sophomore Austin Maddox has made 19 relief appearances totaling 24.1 innings and has compiled a 0.74 ERA with 21 K and three walks. The righty picked up two saves in the SEC Tourney against Mississippi State and Georgia.

*Junior Nick Maronde has made a team-high 33 appearances and is 0-0 with a 2.03 ERA and two saves in 40.0 innings. The lefty has 51 strikeouts and seven walks. Just seven of the 26 hits he has permitted have been for extra bases (four doubles, three homers). Foes have a .183 clip against Maronde and opposing batters are 5-for-56 (.089) against him with runners on base.

*Junior Greg Larson sports a 2.19 ERA in 29 appearances and has held opponents to a .257 average.

*UF’s 14 saves have come from six different relievers: senior Matt Campbell (1), junior Anthony DeSclafani (3), Maddox (5), Maronde (2), sophomore Steven Rodriguez (2) and junior Tommy Toledo (1). Kevin Chapman collected 11 of the club’s 18 saves last season.

*Toledo’s relief win against Mississippi State on June 12 was the 13th victory of his career. Now with a 13-9 mark, he joins junior Alex Panteliodis (23-10), Hudson Randall (18-7), Brian Johnson (14-7) and DeSclafani (13-9) in double-digit triumphs.

*Florida is 56-for-85 (.659) on the basepaths, as 14 different players have at least one stolen base and Pigott (15-for-19) holds the team lead. Opponents are 29-for-44 (.659) against UF. The Gators were 11-for-12 (.917) in Hoover for the SEC Tourney and are 1-for-4 (.250) in the NCAA Tournament.

*UF enters the NCAA College World Series with 135 doubles on the season after totaling 110 in 64 games last year. Six different players - Zunino (22), Tucker (21), Pigott (19), Bryson Smith (13), Fontana (12), Adams (11) and Johnson (10) - have reached double-digits. The 135 two-baggers is tied for fourth on the school’s career chart, with the 159 in 1998 the high-water mark.

*Gator pinch hitters are 24-for-76 (.316) this season, as redshirt sophomore Vickash Ramjit is 4-for-10 (.400) and junior Jeff Moyer is 6-for-19 (.316).

*Smith enters the CWS boasting a career-high 10-game hitting streak in which he is 22-for-43 (.512) with 10 runs, six RBI and six doubles.

*Sophomore Cody Dent, who entered the SEC Tourney 4-for-36 (.111) in 32 games, delivered a .308 (4-for-13) effort in Hoover and did not commit any errors while starting all five games on the hot corner. He drew four walks and drove in a pair of runs in the title game against Vanderbilt. In the NCAA Gainesville Regional, Dent was 3-for-10 (.300) and led the club with four walks, none bigger than the ninth-inning free pass in game against Miami (Fla.).

*According to the most recent SEC statistics, Florida is second in hitting (.311), first in fielding (.975) and third in ERA (3.01).

*The Gator offense ranks in top-three in batting average (.311, second), slugging percentage (..468, first), runs scored (435, second), hits (715, first), RBI (404, first), doubles (135, first), home runs (67, first), total bases (1,075, first) and sacrifice bunts (59, tied for third).

*Florida is outscoring its opponents 13-0 in the first inning and 39-1 in the first three frames during the NCAA Tournament.

*Fontana has reached base safely in 21-straight games. During that stretch, the shortstop is batting .304 (24-for-79) with 18 runs, 18 walks, 17 RBI, four home runs and three doubles. Fontana has recorded a RBI in seven of the last eight games.

*In the last 10 games, Pigott has scored 13 runs.

*This is the first season since 2005 that Florida has had three eight-game winners on the mound (Alan Horne, 10-2; Tommy Boss, 9-4; Darren O’Day, 8-3).

*Maronde is the first Florida pitcher since Connor Falkenbach in 2003 to have over 50 strikeouts while walking less than 10 batters.

*When UF played Texas on June 25, 2005, in its initial appearance in the best-of-three CWS Championship Series, it was the first time the Gators and Longhorns ever met on the diamond.

*Florida is 1-2 (.333) against teams from the Big 12 at the CWS, with all three games coming in 2005 (7-4 win over Nebraska, 4-2 and 6-2 losses to Texas).

*The Gator offense is averaging 13.2 hits per game during the 2011 NCAA Tournament (six games) after averaging just 9.2 hits per game in its 16 contests before the tournament.

*Tucker is one hit away from tying Mark Ellis (1996-98) for most career hits in the NCAA Tournament (31).

*Panteliodis is one strikeout away from tying John Burke (1991-92) for most career strikeouts in the NCAA Tournament (33).

*Panteliodis is one win away from tying Tommy Boss (2002-05) for most career wins in the NCAA Tournament (four).

*Florida is 27-0 when holding opponents two runs or less and is 36-1 (.973) when yielding three runs or less.

*UF is 7-15 (.318) when scoring three runs or less but is 43-2 (.956) when scoring four runs or more.

*Florida is an unblemished 43-0 when leading after seven innings, but 2-13 (.133) when trailing after seven frames.

 

Single-Season Record Watch

*Nolan Fontana’s nine sacrifice flies tie him with Mark Kiger (2000) and Brad Wilkerson (1997) for the school record.

*Karsten Whitson (8-0) owns the single-season school record for winning percentage (min. 8 decisions).

*Austin Maddox’s .178 opponent batting average is the lowest in school history in a single season, while Nick Maronde is third with a .183 OBA.

*Maronde’s 2.03 ERA ties him for ninth all-time in UF history in lowest ERA (since 1974 – Aluminum Bats). Maronde’s 11.48 strikeouts per nine innings is currently fifth in school history.

*Mike Zunino’s 168 total bases this year are sixth-most in school history and one behind Tim Olson’s 169 total bases in 2000. They’re the most total bases in a season by a Gator since current Cleveland Indians’ star Matt LaPorta’s 185 in 2005.

*Zunino is tied for ninth in school history with 18 home runs this season, and has the most round-trippers since LaPorta went yard 20 times in 2007.

*Hudson Randall is one win away from becoming just the fourth Gator pitcher since 2000 (Alex Hart – 13, 2002, Justin Hoyman – 11, 2004, Alex Panteliodis – 11, 2010) to reach the 11-win plateau. The 11 wins would tie him for seventh-most in school history for wins in a single season.

*If Zunino and Preston Tucker play at least two games in Omaha, they would be just the 13th and 14th Gators ever to play at least 69 games in a season. If Tucker starts twice, he would be the 12th Gator ever to start 69 games in a season.

*Tucker is three AB’s away from joining the Top-10 list for most at bats in a season by a Florida player.

*With one double, Zunino can tie the single-season school record for doubles in a season with 23, becoming the first player since Greg Catalanotte in 1998 to accomplish the feat (Catalanotte, 1998, Mike Moberg, 1990, Chris Lombardozzi, 1985).

*Zunino is one putout, three runs, five hits and .003 slugging percentage away from joining the top-10 single-season lists in school history.

*Fontana is one triple away from being tied for fifth in school history with six triples in a season, last done by Avery Barnes in 2009.

*Bryson Smith’s 15 hit-by-pitches are sixth in school history for a single season and one behind Jimmy Bell’s mark of 16 in 1990.

*Josh Adams’ 11 sacrifice bunts are second in school history for a single season and one behind Aaron Sobieraj’s 2002 school record of 13. Daniel Pigott has 10.

*Maronde is two appearances away from joining the top-10 list for most single-season appearances in school history.

*Randall and Whitson are each one start away from joining the top-10 list for most single-season starts in school history.

 

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

 

 

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