Monday March 5, 2012No. 1 Baseball Returns To McKethan Stadium Against Florida Atlantic On Tuesday Night
Riding an eight-game winning streak and the consensus number one team in the college baseball polls, Florida (10-1) returns to the friendly confines of McKethan Stadium to begin a stretch of 10-straight home games against Florida Atlantic (8-4) on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Freshman left-hander Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) (0-0, 1.93), who has made four appearances totaling 4.2 innings this season, will be making the initial start of his college career and will oppose FAU junior right-hander Jake Meiers (1-1, 7.59). Poyner has given up five hits and one run, with one strikeout and zero walks in his time on the mound.
In the teams’ most recent meeting on Feb. 22, 2011, at Roger Dean Stadium, the spring training home of the Florida Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals, the Gators erupted for then-season- highs in hits and runs and used a strong outing from right-hander Anthony DeSclafani to post a 13-2 victory.
Working on a pre-determined pitch count, DeSclafani threw four shutout innings, allowing three hits and totaling three strikeouts, to earn his first win since March 15, 2010, against Army. Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (4-for-5, two RBI) and Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (4-for-5, two RBI, two runs) each matched career highs with four hits as part of the Gators’ 18-hit offensive outburst.
The Gators shot out of the gates with three unearned runs on three hits and two errors in the first inning, tacked on three runs in the third and two more in the fifth to build an 8-0 lead through five innings. The Owls ended UF’s streak of 22.2 scoreless innings with a leadoff homer in the sixth, only to have the Orange and Blue respond with four more runs in the seventh for a 12-1 margin. Florida’s six pitchers on the night gave up seven hits and a pair of runs, with eight strikeouts and zero walks. The offense accounted for 18 hits from nine different players and had a season-high five doubles.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan has a 3-1 (.750) record against Florida Atlantic, 2-1 (.667) in Gainesville and 1-0 (1.000) at neutral sites. In the Gators and Owls’ last encounter at McKethan Stadium, UF captured the 2010 NCAA Gainesville Regional with a 15-0 triumph on June 6, 2010, powered by a three-homer, six-RBI outburst by current senior Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.).
This past weekend, UF extended its winning streak to eight games with a sweep of previously unbeaten No. 8 Miami (8-3) by scores of 7-5, 13-5 and 8-5. The Gators have now defeated the Hurricanes in 11-consecutive games dating back to March 6, 2010, and swept UM in a three-game series in Coral Gables for the first time since 2006 and just second time in school history. Florida notched a weekend sweep of a top-10 opponent for the first time since claiming all three meetings at No. 5 LSU from March 18-20, 2011. UF has now taken 14 of the last 15 encounters between the Sunshine State rivals and improved to 6-1 this year against ranked opponents.
The Gators hit .365 (42-for-115) over the three games, with eight doubles and five homers, and out-scored the Hurricanes by a 28-15 margin. Junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (.429, 9 RBI) was 5-for-7 (.714), Pigott (.342, 10 RBI) was 6-for-12 (.500) and junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (.341, 11 R) was 7-for-15 (.467) with six runs and a solo homer on the weekend. Florida’s bullpen was 2-0 with two saves and a 0.66 ERA during the series, with 18 strikeouts, seven hits, three walks and two runs (one earned) in 13.2 innings.
Trailing 5-3 in the ninth inning on Sunday and down to its final two outs, UF erupted for five runs to hand Miami an 8-5 setback in the series finale. Junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (.425, 10 RBI) tied the game with a two-run double to raise his hitting streak to 14 games. Zunino hit .400 (6-for-15) at Miami and scored the eventual winning run on a wild pitch. Junior Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) (.273) drew a bases-loaded walk and Thompson (.310, 3 RBI) chipped in with an RBI single to provide the Gators with the three-run margin. Sophomore right-hander Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) (1-1, 6.94) made his second career start, first on a weekend, and had a career-high eight strikeouts over 4.2 innings. Freshman Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.) (1-0, 4.76) notched his first career victory and sophomore Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) (0-0, 0.00) collected his first career save with a game-ending strikeout. The Gator pitchers tallied a season-high 14 strikeouts in the win.
Johnson (4-for-5) had career-highs in RBI (five) and hits (four) and freshman Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) (3-for-4) cranked a pair of long homers and drove in a career-best four RBI to lead the Gators to a series-clinching 13-5 victory on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 4,999 fans, the 10th-largest crowd in Mark Light Field history. UF pounded out a season-high16 hits and overcame deficits of 3-0 and 5-3 before the largest crowd for a UM home game since 5,063 fans filled the park on April 24, 1999, against Florida State. Senior reliever Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) (1-0, 1.86) retired all 14 batters he faced over a career-high 4.2 innings to pick up his first win since April 17, 2011, at Georgia. Pigott (4-for-5) matched his career high with four hits as the Orange and Blue seized the lead with a five-run fifth frame and scored the final 10 runs of the contest to secure its third regular-season series triumph in a row over Miami. It marked only the sixth time since 1960 that the Gators have taken a series in Coral Gables, also in 1966 (2-1), 1984 (2-1), 2002 (2-0), 2006 (3-0) and 2010 (2-1). The eight-run margin of victory equaled the highest for the Gators this season, along with an 8-0 shutout of No. 19 UCF on Feb. 22.
Junior right-hander Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (2-0, 4.15) gutted out 5.1 innings for the win and junior Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (1-0, 0.00) had a career-high seven strikeouts over 3.1 innings to collect his third save as UF totaled a then-season-high 15 hits in a 7-5 victory over UM on Friday night, snapping the Hurricanes eight-game winning streak to start the year. Zunino (4-for-5) matched his career high with four hits, including two doubles and a solo homer, while Maddox (3-for-3), Thompson (3-for-4) and Fontana (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. The Gators entered the game with four stolen bases in eight games and were 4-for-5 on the basepaths.
*Florida leads the all-time series against FAU, 18-6, including 14-4 in Gainesville.
*Taylor Gushue was chosen as the SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday for the second time in three weeks. During the weekend set with Miami, Gushue hit .400 (4-for-10), with four RBI, three runs and a pair of homers. In Saturday night’s series-clinching victory, the rookie tied the game at 3-3 with a fourth-inning solo shot right after junior Brian Johnson’s two-run jack and snapped a 5-5 stalemate the following inning with a towering three-run bomb that landed in the third level of the parking garage overlooking right field. Gushue added a single in the sixth and was hit by a pitch in the eighth on his way to a career-best 3-for-4, four-RBI performance.
*On the season, Gushue has made 10 starts (five as the designated hitter, three at first base and two at catcher) and is batting .333 (11-for-33) with nine RBI, eight runs, six walks, three homers, two doubles and a triple, to go along with a slugging percentage of .727 and an on-base percentage of .463.
*Dating back to last season, junior Mike Zunino enters the week on a 14-game hitting streak in which he is 23-for-56 (.411) with 15 runs and 11 RBI. His last game without a hit was a 0-for-3 showing in Florida’s CWS opener against Texas on June 18, 2011.
*Zunino’s solo homer in the fourth on Friday night put him in a tie with Josh Adams (2008-11), Greg Catalanotte (1998-99) and C.J. Smith (2002-04) for 11th on the school’s all-time list with 31 homers.
*Freshman Casey Turgeon has started all 10 games at second base and is hitting .294 (10-for-34) with six RBI, six walks and three doubles. He has not committed any errors since opening night.
*After a 2-for-15 (.133) series in Coral Gables, Preston Tucker needs three hits to move past Jeff Corsaletti (273, 2002-05) for fourth place on the school’s all-time chart. In addition, Tucker’s next double will tie Corsaletti (56) for third on the Gator chart.
*Senior Greg Larson (1-0, 3.60) has appeared in five of the Gators’ 11 games this season, bringing him to 92 career appearances. He needs four more to match Josh Edmondson (2005-08) for fifth on the school’s all-time chart.
*The Gators are 5-0 this year when opponents score first and are 9-0 when out-hitting their foe.
*Junior Nolan Fontana has an SEC-best four sacrifice hits this season and has vaulted up to fifth on UF’s career chart with 22 over his three years. Adams had 27 sacrifice hits in his career to occupy first place.
*UF has seven errors through 11 games and has played error-free in six contests (5-1).
*Thirteen of Florida’s 17 home runs have been of the solo variety and the team has homered in its last nine contests. The squad hit 69 homers in 72 games all of last season.
*Florida is hitting .339 (63-for-186) against right-handers and .299 (52-for-174) versus lefties.
*Led by Johnson (5-for-10, .500) and Gushue (5-for-12, .417), the Gators are 34-for-118 (.288) with runners in scoring position.
*Seventeen of the team’s 67 RBI this year have come with two out, paced by four from Turgeon.
*The Gators’ most productive inning has been the fifth (14 runs) and the squad has scored 11 runs in both the third and fourth innings.
*Junior Austin Maddox registered a career-best seven K over 3.1 scoreless innings to defeat Miami last Friday night. In 12.1 innings this year without allowing any runs, the righty has 17 strikeouts without permitting any walks and has held foes to a .163 batting average. Maddox boasts a career ERA of 0.46 in 26 appearances covering 39.1 innings.
*UF matched its season high with four doubles on Sunday in Coral Gables and has 21 two-baggers in 11 contests.
*The Gators pitching staff has tallied at least five strikeouts in every outing this year.