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Sunday February 19, 2012No. 16 Cal State Fullerton Takes Finale Over No. 1 UF Baseball, 8-5

Gainesville, Fla.

No. 16 Cal State Fullerton (1-2) overcame a 3-0 deficit with four runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to post an 8-5 victory over No. 1 Florida (2-1) on Sunday afternoon in front of 4,082 fans at McKethan Stadium to salvage the third game of the season-opening weekend series.

 

For the Titans, freshman reliever Koby Gauna (1-0) permitted one run and six hits over five strong innings to earn the win, freshman J.D. Davis was 3-for-5 with a three-run homer in the sixth, redshirt junior Carlos Lopez was 3-for-5 with three RBI and sophomore Michael Lorenzen was 3-for-5 and registered the final three outs to pick up the save. Senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) was 3-for-4 for the Gators with his second homer of the campaign and junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) tossed four shutout innings with five strikeouts in his season debut working on a pitch count. Sophomore Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) (0-1) took the loss for UF.

 

“First of all, Cal State Fullerton played a really good game,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “They hung in there. They were down three runs on a Sunday after they lost the first two games and I thought they did a really, really good job staying in there. They played spirited today and they deserved to win, quite frankly. Their middle relief was better than our middle relief and they took advantage of some pitching there in the middle of the game. Ultimately, I think offensively we’ve got to do a better job of moving the ball. We had runners at second and third in the third with nobody out and we popped up to the catcher and then we struck out. The infield is playing back and if we hit two ground balls there, we go up 5-0. Without getting a hit there, who knows what would have happened at that point? We didn’t score and it gave them some momentum. Those are the types of things you have to do if you want to distance yourself and we weren’t able to do that, but credit Cal State Fullerton for hanging in there.”

 

The Gators took advantage of three hit-by-pitches, a walk and a two-run single by senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead. Junior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) and senior Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) were each plunked by freshman Kenny Mathews with one down and freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) drew a two-out walk to load the bases. Junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) brought in Ramjit by being hit and Pigott drove in Thompson and Turgeon with a single into center field. With runners on second and third after the relay throw to the plate, Mathews escaped further trouble by having Tucker ground out.

 

Lorenzen had a two-out single in the third for the Titans’ initial hit off Johnson and moved into scoring position with a stolen base. Johnson stranded the runner by having junior Ivory Thomas (1-for-3, two runs) ground out.

 

Florida put its first two runners on base in the home part of the third but came away empty-handed. Junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (2-for-5) led off with a single into left center, ending the afternoon for Mathews (2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 3 HBP). Junior Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) greeted Gauna with a double down the left-field line and the reliever rebounded to retire Ramjit (foul pop-up), Thompson (strikeout) and freshman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.)  (infield fly).

 

Lopez began the fourth with a bloop single into right field, stole second and went to third on a grounder by Davis that was prevented from getting into the outfield by Turgeon. Johnson caught both freshman Matt Chapman and junior Casey Watkins to end his outing. Over four scoreless innings, the left-hander recorded five strikeouts and allowed two hits and a walk.

 

“My arm felt really good, it felt loose,” Johnson said. “I didn’t have all of my control the first inning and half of the second, then I put it together there at the end of the fourth inning but my pitch count got too high. I wanted to pitch to contact, but these guys, I give them credit. They knew the strike zone and they weren’t chasing anything that was off of the plate.”

 

Cal State Fullerton exploded for four runs on five hits against Crawford in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. Crawford issued a leadoff walk to sophomore Greg Velazquez before uncorking a wild pitch that pushed the runner into scoring position. Junior Richy Pedroza (2-for-5, two runs) had a bunt single for runners on the corners with none out before Crawford fanned freshman Derek Legg. Lorenzen narrowed the gap to 3-1 with an infield single that scored Velazquez and Thomas doubled off the wall in left field to bring Cal State Fullerton within a run. Lopez roped a two-run single into left field to move the visitors ahead, 4-3, and a base-hit by Davis prompted a pitching change. Sophomore Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) replaced Crawford (0.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R) and a tremendous defensive play by Ramjit at first base resulted in the second out and advanced the runners to second and third base. Gibson plunked Watkins to fill the bags and senior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) came through with an inning-ending strikeout of sophomore pinch hitter Keegan Dale to keep UF down by one.

 

The Titans tacked on four more runs in the sixth, highlighted by a three-run homer by Davis, to build an 8-3 advantage. Pedroza started the frame with a two-bagger into center field and was sacrificed to third by Legg. Larson had Lorenzen ground out and then hit Thomas for runners on first and third with two down. Junior Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) took over on the mound for Larson (1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R) and surrendered an RBI single into center field by Lopez. Moments later, Davis expanded Fullerton’s margin to 8-3 with a three-run homer into the left-field bleachers. Soon after, Rodriguez was ejected for throwing behind redshirt junior Austin Kingsolver, who then singled off freshman Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.). The rookie right-hander had Watkins pop out to Ramjit in foul territory,  

 

Magliozzi worked one inning in his first action, giving up two hits, before freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) made his collegiate pitching debut in the seventh with two down and a CSF runner aboard. After yielding a single to Lorenzen, Shafer had Thomas ground out.

 

Tucker cranked his second homer of the season into the visiting bullpen to narrow UF’s deficit to 8-4 in the seventh. He now needs two more RBI to match Brad Wilkerson’s school-record career total of 214.

 

Freshman Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) made his first appearance in the eighth by relieving Shafer (0.2 IP, 2 H) and induced an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Sophomore Christian Coronado replaced Gauna in the home part of the stanza after his teammate limited the Gators to one run in five innings of work. Florida inched closer on a two-out RBI single by Fontana that scored Tobias, who had singled through the left side of the infield, moved to second on a grounder by Turgeon and taken third on a passed ball.

 

Tucker notched his third hit of the game with a leadoff single in the ninth off Lorenzen, who then had Zunino line into a double play and Maddox line out to complete the contest. CSF enjoyed a 15-11 advantage in hits, as four different players had multiple-hit outings.

 

The total attendance for the series was 14,389, surpassing the previous record total of 14,003 versus USF from Feb. 18-20, 2011. It was also the third-highest attended series at McKethan Stadium in school history behind 14,838 against South Carolina (March 25-27, 2011) and 14,619 against Georgia (May 14-16, 2010).  

 

The Gators continue their season-opening homestand at McKethan Stadium on Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Bethune-Cookman (2-1). In the clubs’ last meeting, Florida blanked the Wildcats, 11-0, on May 3, 2011.

         

Game Notes

·         Preston Tucker led the Gators offensively this weekend by going 6-for-11 (.545) with four RBI, three runs and three extra-base hits (two homers and a double).

·         As a team, Florida batted .284 (27-for-95) and out-scored Cal State Fullerton, 17-13.

·         Mike Zunino increased his hitting streak to seven games with a third-inning single. The 2011 SEC Player of the Year hit .417 (5-for-12) and drove in two runs over the three games.

·         The Gators have won all five season-opening series during Kevin O’Sullivan’s tenure.

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