Friday February 24, 2012No. 1 Baseball Claims Series Opener Over William & Mary, 4-1
Senior Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) delivered a tie-breaking solo homer in the fifth inning and No. 1 Florida (5-1) tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the eighth inning to defeat William & Mary (2-3), 4-1, in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night at McKethan Stadium.
Gator junior right-hander Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (1-0) allowed one run and five hits over 6.1 innings before junior Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) threw 2.2 scoreless innings to collect his second save. Tribe senior left-hander Cole Shain (0-1) yielded two runs and five hits over six innings in his first start this season to take the loss. Junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) went 3-for-4 out of the leadoff spot and Thompson went 2-for-4 to lead UF.
“Hudson (Randall) threw strikes and he got hit a little bit at times,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We played great defense behind him and didn’t make any errors. (Daniel) Pigott made a couple of nice plays in left field and we made some other good plays defensively. Josh Tobias made a nice play at third when we brought (Austin) Maddox into the ballgame and Hudson (Randall) did his thing – no walks and one run over 6.1 innings.”
“(Austin) Maddox was outstanding tonight – 23 pitches over 2.2 innings. He’s continuing to throw the ball well. We did enough offensively to win the game, but we’ve got to do a better job of making some adjustments earlier. A win is a win and hopefully we’ll learn from this and we’ll be better tomorrow.”
A sacrifice fly by junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (1-for-3) opened the scoring against Shain in the first inning. Fontana led off with a double into the right-field corner and senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) was hit by a pitch before a fielder’s choice by senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) erased Pigott at second and left the Gators with runners on the corners. Zunino’s fly ball into shallow field plated Fontana with the game’s opening run.
Freshman Michael Katz (2-for-4) started the Tribe’s second at bat with a double and was sacrificed to third on a one-out bunt by junior Kevin Nutter. However, Randall caught junior Ryan Williams looking on strikes to leave the runner 90 feet away from home plate.
William & Mary freshman Josh Smith tied the game with a leadoff homer in the third to left field. Senior Tadd Bower doubled with one down before Randall had sophomore Ryan Lindemuth ground out and senior Chris Forsten fly out.
Shain retired 11-consecutive Gators before freshman Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) (2-or-3) singled with two down in the fourth through the left side of the infield. The southpaw had freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) fly out to end the inning.
Thompson provided Florida with a 2-1 lead in the fifth with a two-out homer that cleared the right-field fence. It was his first round-tripper since April 20 of last season at UCF. Fontana followed with his second double of the night but Shain had Pigott fly out to straightaway center field.
Pigott made a tremendous leaping grab at the left-field fence on a ball struck by Bower to start the sixth. Randall then retired the next two Tribe hitters to run his streak to 11 in a row since Bower’s third-inning double. Gushue had his first career double with two down in the home part of the inning and went to third on a wild pitch before Shain issued a walk to Shafer. The lefty kept the Tribe down by a run by having freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) ground out.
Katz started the seventh with a base-hit into right center and moved into scoring position with his first stolen base of the year. Sophomore Bobby Klein advanced Katz to third base with a grounder, ending the night for Randall (6.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 4 K). Maddox induced a grounder by Nutter that freshman third baseman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) gobbled up, looked the runner back to third and threw over to first base for the second out. Maddox then caught Williams looking on strikes to preserve the lead.
“I felt better than the last start, some of the nervousness was gone,” Randall said. “I was glad to get back out there, go deeper into the game a little bit and give my team a better chance to win. I felt better as the game went on. I got a lot of easy outs later on in the game. I was back to where I feel comfortable, so I’m glad I got there. I found my groove. It’s my second time out here, I’m getting more comfortable and I’m looking to go out there again.”
Sophomore Matt Houston replaced Shain (6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R) and gave up a one-out single to Thompson. Thompson was thrown out attempting to steal second base and Fontana come through with his third hit of the night to keep the inning alive. With the Tribe shortstop holding Fontana close to second base, Pigott delivered on a hit-and-run into the vacant spot for a single. A throwing error on the play by Williams enabled Fontana to take third base but Houston had Tucker fly out to strand the runners.
Senior Stephen Arcure had a pinch-hit double into right field to open the eighth and Maddox responded with back-to-back strikeouts of junior Ryan Brown and Bower before Lindemuth hit a comebacker to the mound that retired the side.
The Gators added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth to build a 4-1 lead. Zunino raised his hitting streak to 10 games with a leadoff single into left field and Gushue drew his fourth walk in the past two games to put the Gators in business. Williams moved from shortstop to the mound to take over for Houston (1.0 IP, 4 H) and Zunino swiped third base for runners on the corners and none out. Williams threw away Shafer’s grounder, enabling Zunino to score, Gushue to occupy third and Shafer to reach second base. Turgeon finalized the 4-1 margin with a sacrifice fly that brought across Gushue. Maddox set down the Tribe 1-2-3 in the ninth to secure Florida’s third-straight win. In a match-up of left-handers tomorrow at 4 p.m., junior Brian Johnson (0-0, 0.00) will oppose junior Matt Wainman (1-0, 1.50).
· Florida improved to 3-0 all-time against William & Mary in the teams’ first meeting since 1966.
· Austin Maddox has not allowed any runs in 8.2 innings of work, with nine strikeouts over his three appearances.
· The Gators have scored a first-inning run in the each of the last two games.
· Josh Smith’s homer in the third was the first for William & Mary this season.
· Nolan Fontana had two doubles in a game for the second time in his career (Alabama, 5/7/10).
· Fontana had three hits tonight after having two hits through five games.
· Five of Tyler Thompson’s nine career homers are solo. He also had his first multiple-hit outing of the season.
· Hudson Randall’s season-high four strikeouts were his most since six against South Carolina on June 27, 2011.
· Casey Turgeon’s five-game hitting streak ended with an 0-for-3 performance.
· Preston Tucker (0-for-4) remains tied with Brad Wilkerson for the school’s career RBI mark at 214.