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Friday March 2, 2012No. 1 Florida Takes Series Opener At No. 8 Miami, 7-5

Coral Gables, Fla.

Junior right-hander Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (2-0) gutted out 5.1 innings for the win and junior reliever Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) had a career-high seven strikeouts over 3.1 innings to collect his third save as No. 1 Florida (8-1) totaled a season-high 15 hits in a 7-5 victory over previously unbeaten No. 8 Miami (8-1) on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. The Gators have now claimed the last nine meetings in the series and have emerged victorious in 12 of the last 13 encounters between the Sunshine State rivals.

 

Junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (4-for-5) matched his career high with four hits, including two doubles and a solo homer, while Maddox (3-for-3), senior Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) (3-for-4) and junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (2-for-5) also had multiple-hit efforts for UF. Miami senior Eric Erickson (2-1), who had entered the game with a spotless earned run average, took the loss after allowing nine hits and six runs over five innings.

 

Maddox opened the scoring in the second inning with a sacrifice fly that brought across Zunino, who had started the inning with a leadoff double off Erickson to center field to extend his hitting streak to 12 games dating back to last season. Freshman Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) advanced his teammate to third with a grounder and Maddox collected his first RBI of the year with a fly ball into right field.

 

Florida used the first of two sacrifice flies by senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) in the third to take a 2-0 lead. With one down, Thompson rifled a single into right field on a 3-2 count and Fontana dragged a bunt single up the first-base line. Soon after, the Gators executed their first double steal of the season for a pair of runners in scoring position. Pigott’s fly ball to right field plated Thompson.

 

UM sophomore Tyler Palmer tied the game in the bottom of the inning with a two-run homer off Randall. Junior Stephen Perez led off with a single through the right side and Palmer sent a 2-0 pitch over the left-field fence to tie the game with his second homer of 2012.

 

Zunino moved the Gators back in front with a leadoff homer in the fourth to straightway center field. His third dinger of the campaign gave him a team-high five multiple-hit games this season.

 

Florida tacked on three more runs on four hits in the fifth to build a 6-2 lead. Freshman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) started things off with a base-hit up the middle and Thompson followed with his second single of the night. Fontana legged out a bunt to load the bases with none out and Pigott notched his second sacrifice fly of the contest to score Tobias. Florida added another run on a double steal, as Fontana got caught in a run-down between second and third base and Thompson slid past the tag for a 5-2 Gator advantage as Fontana swiped second. Zunino came through with a two-out double down the left-field line to score Fontana with the sixth run.

 

Erickson was replaced prior to the sixth after giving up nine hits and six runs, with three strikeouts. Maddox greeted freshman reliever Christian Diaz with a single into left field and was sacrificed into scoring position on a bunt by freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.). Maddox took third on a wild pitch and scored on an infield single by Thompson, who raced down to second on a throwing error by junior shortstop Michael Broad.

 

The Hurricanes struck for three runs in the home part of the inning to narrow the gap to 7-5. Sophomore Brad Fieger (2-for-4) led off with a single into left field and Broad blooped a hit into right field before Randall struck out freshman Esteban Tresgallo (2-for-4). In 5.1 innings, the righty scattered seven hits, permitted four runs and registered a season-high six strikeouts. Junior Chantz Mack laced an RBI single into right center off junior Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) to score Fieger and Rodriguez had Perez hit a grounder to Tobias for the second out. Sophomore Julian Santos sliced a two-run single through the left side to prompt another pitching change. Maddox moved from first base to the mound and caught Palmer looking on strikes to end the inning.

 

Maddox fanned the first two batters in the seventh before Fieger doubled into left field. The righty made Broad his fourth strikeout victim to strand the runner in scoring position.

 

Junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) began the eighth with a double into the right-field corner and was replaced by junior pinch runner Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.). Maddox stroked a single into left for runners on the corners with none out and a fielder’s choice by Turgeon erased Maddox at second base and left Ramjit on third. Freshman Alexander Fernandez took over for Diaz (2.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R) and issued a walk to junior pinch hitter Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) that loaded the bags. However, sophomore AJ Salcines worked out of the jam by striking out Thompson and Fontana to keep the Hurricanes down by a pair of runs.

 

Pigott started the ninth with a single up the middle but was thrown out attempting to steal for the second out. Zunino collected his fourth hit of the night by slamming a ball off Salcines’ leg that caused another pitching change. After a wild pitch by sophomore Javi Salas advanced Zunino to second, the reliever had Ramjit ground out.  

 

With Miami down to its final three outs, Maddox whiffed Santos and fielded Palmer’s bunt cleanly for the second out. Sophomore Dale Carey (2-for-5) kept the game alive with a single into center field and Maddox closed the contest with a strikeout of senior Peter O’Brien to nail down his third save in as many chances. Florida held a 15-11 edge in hits and did not commit any errors. Johnson (1-0, 0.87) will oppose UM junior right-hander Eric Whaley (1-0, 0.75) in game two of the series at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

 

Game Notes

·         Florida has nine-straight wins over Miami dating back to a 9-6 loss on March 6, 2010, in Coral Gables.

·         Kevin O’Sullivan is now 13-6 against the Hurricanes, including 4-3 at Miami.

·         Three of Mike Zunino’s four hits went for extra bases, as he had two doubles and a homer.

·         Zunino had four hits for the third time in career, previously the most recent against Kentucky on May 21, 2011.

·         Junior Hudson Randall’s six strikeouts matched his most since June 27, 2011, versus South Carolina.

·         Junior Austin Maddox’s career-high seven K eclipsed his previous high of four set last weekend against William & Mary.

·         Maddox has 16 strikeouts, zero walks and zero runs allowed in 12 innings this year.

·         Senior Tyler Thompson had his first three-hit game of the season and stole a career-high two bases.

·         Thompson’s theft in the fifth marked the first time since March 28, 2010, that a Gator had stolen home (Kamm Washington vs. Ole Miss).

·         The Gators entered tonight’s game with four stolen bases in eight games and were 4-for-5 on the basepaths tonight.

·         Junior Nolan Fontana stole two bases for the second time in his career (March 7, 2010 vs. Miami).

·         Senior Daniel Pigott leads Florida with three sacrifice flies.

 

 

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