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Monday June 27, 2011Florida and South Carolina to Square Off for 2011 National Title In Omaha

Omaha, Neb.

Florida (53-17) and South Carolina (53-14) will begin a best-of-three series on Monday night at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha to determine the 2011 NCAA College World Series Champion. Each game can be seen live on ESPN at 8 p.m. and heard on the Gator Radio Network, Country 103.7 The Gator and on WRUF SportsRadio 850.

 

 The Gators and Gamecocks each claimed their respective brackets with 3-0 marks. USC is seeking its second-straight national championship, while UF is in the finals for the second time in school history after falling in two games to Texas in 2005.

 

Florida is trying to join Michigan and Ohio State as only FBS teams to win national titles in baseball, basketball and football. Gator football won titles in 1996, 2006 and 2008, while basketball won back-to-back crowns in 2006 and 2007.

 

Florida’s National Championship Teams

The University of Florida has claimed 26 national team titles, including two during the past school year - men’s indoor track & field and women’s tennis.

        Sport                                      Year             Championship             

        Men’s Golf                            1968             NCAA Championship

        Men’s Golf                            1973             NCAA Championship

        Women’s Swimming          1979             AIAW Championship

        Gymnastics                           1982             AIAW Championship

        Women’s Swimming          1982             NCAA Championship

        Men’s Swimming                1983             NCAA Championship

        Men’s Swimming                1984             NCAA Championship

        Women’s Golf                      1985             NCAA Championship

        Women’s Golf                      1986             NCAA Championship

        Women’s Track                    1992             NCAA Indoor Championship

        Women’s Tennis                 1992             NCAA Championship

        Men’s Golf                            1993             NCAA Championship

        Women’s Tennis                 1996             NCAA Championship

        Football                                 1996             Associated Press/Coaches’

        Women’s Tennis                 1998             NCAA Championship

        Soccer                                   1998             NCAA Championship

        Men’s Golf                            2001             NCAA Championship

        Women’s Tennis                 2003             NCAA Championship

        Men’s Basketball                 2006             NCAA Championship

        Football                                 2006             BCS/Associated Press

        Men’s Basketball                 2007             NCAA Championship

        Football                                 2008             BCS/Associated Press

        Men’s Track & Field            2010             NCAA Indoor Championship

        Women’s Swimming          2010             NCAA Championship

        Men’s Ind. Track & Field     2011             NCAA Indoor Championship

        Women’s Tennis                 2011             NCAA Championship

 

Both the Gator baseball and softball teams reached the championship round of their respective NCAA College World Series this season. Under the direction of Tim Walton, Florida softball advanced to the final for the second time in three years before succumbing to Arizona State.

 

The encounter with South Carolina on Monday will represent the ninth time that Florida will face a league opponent at the CWS and the team has a 3-5 (.375) mark in those outings. The Gators dropped a couple of games to LSU in both 1991 (8-1, 19-8) and 1996 (9-4, 2-1) and were edged by Mississippi State in 1998 (14-13) before downing Tennessee in 2005 (6-4) and knocking off Vanderbilt twice during the 2011 CWS (3-1, 6-4).

 

Sophomore Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (11-3, 2.24) will be making his 19th start of the year in the series opener and will oppose USC freshman right-hander Forrest Koumas (6-1, 3.07). Randall’s number of starts is the most by a Gator pitcher since Tommy Boss and Alan Horne had that many in 2005. The 19 starts will tie for the fourth-most in a single-season at Florida, behind the school record of 21 shared by Jeff Gidcumb (1988) and John Kaufman (1996). Randall has team highs in wins (11) and innings pitched (116.2) and has registered 67 strikeouts while giving up 12 walks. The righty has held opponents to a .234 average this season and threw a complete game to defeat South Carolina, 2-1, on March 26 (9.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 4 K, 0 BB). Florida has a 15-3 (.833) record in his starts and has scored a total of 98 runs when he pitches, an average of 5.4 runs of support,

 

Of the Gators’ 70 games this season, 40 have been against members of the SEC, good for 57 percent of their contests. Florida went 22-8 (.733) during the regular season and compiled a 4-1 (.800) record en route to the SEC Tournament crown. During the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional, it took two of three games from Mississippi State and then downed Vanderbilt twice during the College World Series for a cumulative mark of 30-10 (.750). According to college baseball guru Barry Allen, the Gators’ 30 victories over SEC foes surpassed the previous record of 27 by Alabama (1999) and South Carolina (2000).

 

Florida’s first triumph over Vanderbilt was its 52nd victory of the year, eclipsing the previous best of 51 done in 1991, when the club finished 51-21. In the past two seasons, the Gators have won 100 games (47-17 in 2010, 53-17 in 2011), the top two-year span in school history.

 

South Carolina defeated Florida twice in three games over the weekend of March 25-27 at McKethan Stadium to take the series between Eastern Division rivals. USC’s series victory ended a stretch of 13-consecutive weekend series triumphs for Florida and marked the Gators’ first loss in a league series since March 26-28, 2010, at Ole Miss and the squad’s first conference series setback at home since April 17-19, 2009, to Ole Miss. USC held Florida to a .217 (20-for-92) batting average on the weekend and the visitors compiled a 2.08 ERA. The Gators were out-scored, 14-7, and committed four errors.

 

The Gamecocks capitalized on a bases-loaded walk with the game tied in the eighth inning to post a 4-3 win in Sunday’s rubber game. USC overcame a 3-0 deficit with three runs in the sixth and took the lead when senior Adrian Morales earned a free pass from junior Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) to bring across junior Adam Matthews with the decisive run. The Gators had seized a 3-0 lead in the second stanza on an RBI single by sophomore Kamm Washington, a squeeze bunt by senior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) and a two-out RBI single by freshman Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.). Freshman Karsten Whitson (Chipley, Fla.) did not receive a decision after giving up two hits and a run with five strikeouts in five-plus innings.

 

Washington snapped a 1-1 tie with a lead-off homer in the seventh to help the Gators square the weekend series on Saturday night, 2-1. His first homer since Feb. 20, 2010, against USF came on the first pitch of the home part of the seventh from All-American Matt Price and landed in the left-field bleachers. Randall went the distance for his first career complete game and retired the final 19 USC hitters of the contest. The righty gave up five singles, permitted an unearned run and registered four strikeouts without issuing any walks.

 

USC junior left-hander Michael Roth took a shutout into the ninth and South Carolina used a pair of four-run innings on its way to a 9-2 victory in the series opener. Roth yielded 10 hits, registered six strikeouts and gave up two runs in his longest stint of the season. The Gamecocks plated four runs in both the third and sixth frames to snap the Gators’ skein at 10 games. Sophomore Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) suffered his first loss after giving up eight hits and seven runs (six earned), with five K and two walks, over 5.1 innings.

 

Florida (53-17) snapped a 4-4 tie with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat Vanderbilt (54-12), 6-4, on Friday afternoon in front of 20,087 fans at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. With their fifth victory over the Commodores this season in six meetings, the Gators advanced to the best-of-three CWS Championship Series for the second time.

 

After the Commodores had tied the game, 4-4, in the top of the eighth, junior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-4, two runs) led off with a single into right center and sophomore Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) (2-for-2, two runs, two walks) beat out a bunt single for a pair of Gators aboard. Sophomore Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (2-for-3) laid down a bunt that junior Sonny Gray (12-4) tried to bare-hand, instead resulting in a hit that loaded the bases with none out and caused a pitching change. Sophomore Will Clinard came in for Gray (7.0 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 8 K, 5 BB) and had senior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) pop up on the infield for the first out. Junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (1-for-5, two RBI) greeted sophomore reliever Corey Williams with a go-ahead RBI single to left field that brought home Pigott for a 5-4 advantage. Senior Mark Lamm replaced Williams and struck out sophomore Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.), but a wild pitch on the play enabled Dent to score for a two-run lead.

       

Sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.), who had entered the game in the eighth, retired freshman Tony Kemp on a foul pop-up to left field in the ninth and had sophomore Anthony Gomez ground out before junior Aaron Westlake (2-for-5) doubled to right center to keep Vanderbilt’s hopes alive. However, Maddox (3-0) induced a game-ending fly ball to left field by senior Curt Casali to secure the victory.

 

Gator Bytes

*Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is 7-6 (.538) against South Carolina, 4-2 in Gainesville (.667), 3-3 (.500) in Columbia and 0-1 (.000) at the SEC Tournament.

*The Gators have never faced the Gamecocks in NCAA Tournament play and this will be the fifth different SEC opponent they have met in Omaha (LSU, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt).

*Florida is 8-1 (.889) in NCAA action this year, 3-0 in Regionals, 2-1 in Super Regionals and 3-0 at the CWS.

*Coach O’Sullivan is 16-7 (.696) in the NCAA Tournament: 9-2 (.818) in Regionals, 4-3 (.571) in Super Regional and 3-2 (.600) at the College World Series.

*His three wins in Omaha match the school’s career record for CWS triumphs. The fourth-year skipper is now tied with Joe Arnold, who collected three victories in two trips to Omaha (1988, 1991) and Pat McMahon, who notched three triumphs in 2005.

*Coming into this year, UF was 8-13 (.381) in Omaha in six previous trips and the squad has now won its last three CWS contests after losing four in a row.

*The Gators boast a 36-9 (.800) record this season in games that are part of a three-game series. UF has captured 13 of 15 weekend series this year, with losses to South Carolina (L, W, L from March 25-27 in Gainesville) and Arkansas (L, L, W from May 5-7 in Fayetteville).

*The Orange and Blue is 12-3 (.800) in game one of a series, 10-5 (.667) in game two and 14-1 (.933) in the finale of a three-game set in 2011.

*During Kevin O’Sullivan’s tenure, Florida is 41-15 (.732) in three-game series: 7-6 (.538) in 2008, 8-6 (.571) in 2009, 13-1 (.929) in 2010 and 13-2 (.867) in 2011.

*UF has emerged on top in 26 of its last 29 series, the losses coming to Ole Miss (L, L, W in Oxford from March 26-28, 2010) and the defeats to South Carolina and Arkansas earlier this year.

*The Gators have posted 27-straight series victories when taking the opener. The last time Florida was on the short end of a series when it won the initial matchup happened the weekend of April 3-5, 2009, when Vanderbilt notched two-straight wins (4-3, 16-9) after falling by an 8-4 count. In its visit to South Carolina in ‘08, UF picked up a 9-3 win in the opener and the Gamecocks rebounded to take the series by scores of 6-5 and 9-6.

*Senior Bryson Smith, who leads the Gators with a .472 (17-for-36) average in NCAA play, boasts a career-high 13-game hitting streak in which he is 26-for-54 (.481) with 12 runs, eight RBI and seven doubles.

*Junior Preston Tucker and sophomore Mike Zunino will match the single-season school record for games played of 71 on Monday, a distinction shared by four players, last done by Adam Davis and Brian Jeroloman in 2005. Tucker will match the mark for games started held by the trio of Davis, Jeroloman and Brian Purvis (1991).

*Senior Josh Adams needs six more at bats to tie Mark Ellis (941, 1996-99) for the most all-time at Florida.

*With 208 career RBI, including 20 during the 2011 NCAA Tourney, Tucker needs six more to equal Brad Wilkerson’s school-record total of 214 between 1996-98.

*Tucker is Florida’s NCAA Tourney record-holder in RBI (35), hits (34), homers (9) and doubles (8). In 21 career NCAA games, he is 34-for-89 (.382).

*Junior Alex Panteliodis owns school NCAA Tourney records for strikeouts (35) and games started (7).

*Before he was inserted into the starting lineup on a regular basis against Kentucky on May 20, sophomore Cody Dent had been 3-for-29 (.103) with three runs, three walks and one RBI. Since becoming a starter at third base, he is hitting .277 (13-for-47) with 14 walks, eight runs, five RBI and the first two extra-base hits of his career.

*Dent has drawn a team-best nine walks in NCAA action in nine games after having 13 career free passes in 65 games entering the Tournament.

*Junior Daniel Pigott’s double in the second victory over Vanderbilt increased UF’s two-bagger total to 142 on the season. That figure is now second in school history, behind 159 in 1998.

*By downing No. 3 Vanderbilt, the Gators improved to 19-9 (.679) against ranked teams, 11-4 (.733) against top-five teams and 11-6 (.647) versus top-10 squads.

*Florida has at least one double in 15-straight contests and has at least one extra-base hit in 68 of 70 games this year, the only exceptions against Georgia Southern (March 8) and Mississippi State (April 10).

*Three different players have over 20 doubles on the club: Tucker (23), Zunino (22) and Pigott (21).

*Smith has been plunked a team-high 16 times, tying him for fifth on the school’s single-season list for hit-by-pitches.

*Zunino leads Florida with 94 hits and is seeking to become the sixth player to reach the century mark. Jeff Corsaletti was the last to reach the milestone with 100 in 2005, while the school record of 104 hits is shared by Mark Kiger and Pat Osborn in 2002.

*Adams’ 11 sacrifice bunts this season are two shy of the single-season school record held by Aaron Sobieraj in 2002. As a club, the Gators have established a new standard with 60 sacrifice hits.

*Sophomore Nolan Fontana needs one more sacrifice fly to become the Gators’ single-season leader, as he is tied for the top spot with Kiger (2000) and Wilkerson (1997).

*Florida has 20 come-from-behind wins this season, including a pair at the NCAA World Series over Texas (trailed 3-0, won 8-4) and Vanderbilt (trailed 1-0 in the second meeting, won 6-4).

*In the team’s 53-17 (.757) overall record, UF was 34-7 (.829) at McKethan Stadium, 11-7 (.611) on an opponent’s home field and are 8-3 (.727) at neutral sites.

*During the Gators’ 8-1 (.889) showing in the NCAA Tournament, they are hitting .333 and have out-scored opponents by a 72-31 margin. The pitching staff has registered a 2.81 team earned run average, with 63 strikeouts and 14 walks, and has limited foes to a .239 clip.

*In three postseason starts, sophomore Hudson Randall is 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA and has 18 strikeouts and four walks in 20.2 innings, freshman Karsten Whitson is 1-0 with a 1.88 ERA and has 14 strikeouts and two walks in 14.1 innings and Panteliodis is 1-0 with a 2.65 ERA and has seven K and zero walks in 17 innings.

*Florida is a perfect 28-0 when holding opponents to two runs or less and is 37-1 (.974) when yielding three runs or less.

*UF is 8-15 (.348) when scoring three runs or less but is 45-2 (.957) when scoring four runs or more.

*The Gators are an unblemished 46-0 when leading after seven innings, but 2-13 (.133) when trailing after seven frames.

 

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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