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Tuesday March 6, 2012UF Baseball's Mike Zunino Named College Baseball 360 Primetime Player Of The Week

Gainesville, Fla.

University of Florida junior catcher Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) was chosen as the Primetime Player of the Week presented by CollegeBaseball360.com on Tuesday. This marks the fourth time in school history that a Gator has received the award (Matt den Dekker, week of Feb. 19-21, 2010; Brian Johnson, week of April 19-25, 2010; Nolan Fontana, week of March 14-20, 2011).

 

Last weekend, the 2011 SEC Player of the Year batted .400 (6-for-15) with five runs, four RBI, three doubles and a homer as No. 1 Florida (10-1) swept a three-game series at previously unbeaten No. 8 Miami. Zunino oversaw a UF pitching staff that registered 34 strikeouts and permitted six walks in 27 innings, highlighted by a season-high 14 strikeouts in the finale. The Gators have now defeated the Hurricanes 11-consecutive times and notched just their second sweep in Coral Gables in school history.

 

With Florida trailing 5-3 with one out in the ninth on Sunday, Zunino delivered a game-tying two-run double to drive in Fontana and senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and scored the eventual winning run on a wild pitch. The Orange and Blue sent 10 batters to the plate and tallied five runs to earn an 8-5 triumph.

 

In Saturday’s come-from-behind Gator win, he singled and scored twice. With UF trailing by a 3-0 score, Zunino led off the fourth with base-hit that was followed by back-to-back homers by Johnson and freshman Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.). He reached on a fielding error in the fifth and scored in the five-run stanza that put the Gators ahead to stay. In addition, Zunino also helped senior reliever Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) retire all 14 Miami batters he faced in the righty’s longest outing of his career.

 

During the series opener on Friday night, Zunino matched his career high with four hits, including two doubles and a solo homer, and was 4-for-5 in the Gators’ 7-5 win. He doubled and scored in the second inning, moved Florida ahead with a homer to begin the fourth, had an RBI double in the fifth and a single in the ninth.  

 

Entering tonight’s game against Florida Atlantic, Zunino has a 14-game hitting streak dating back to last season and leads the Gators with a .425 batting average, a .775 slugging percentage and a .489 on-base percentage. The catcher has team-bests in hits (17), runs (12), RBI (10), walks (six) and doubles (five).

 

Primetime Performer Award Criteria (not based solely on raw stats, but rather …)

• Must have been playing for or against a CB360 top-50 team (in the Composite National Rankings) or performed a high level in games that could be key to a team’s conference/NCAA postseason qualification; made significant contribution to team’s postseason positioning (single-game wins, “quality” wins, series wins, road wins, etc.).
• Involved in clutch performances, such as late game-winning hits, noteworthy comebacks, game-changing plays, team leadership, key defensive efforts, etc.
• Performed at a top level against a team rated highly nationally (or within its conference), with bonus consideration given for key performances away from home field and vs. traditional rivals.
• Overcame adversity or extreme circumstances (for the team and/or individual).
• Any accomplishment that is rare, historic, record-setting, etc., on a national level.

 

Lamar junior left-hander Jonathan Dziedzic (Humble, Texas) and Zunino headlined the week-3 CB360 Primetime Performers for Division I baseball, with Zunino the Primetime Player of the Week and Dziedzic the Primetime Pitcher for the week of Feb. 27-March 4, as selected by CollegeBaseball360.com.

 

The other position players on the week-3 CB360 Primetime Performers Honor Roll include a pair of slick-fielding shortstops who provided key production from the bottom part of the order – Tulane junior Brennan Middleton (Baton Rouge, La.) and Purdue senior David Miller (St. Louis, Mo.) – along with a junior transfer from North Florida, second baseman and 2-hole hitter Joe Wielbruda (Youngstown, Ohio).

 

The other pitchers honored include South Carolina senior left-handed ace Michael Roth (Greer, S.C.) and Saint Mary’s bullpen specialist Patrick Keane (Clayton, Calif.), along with five other right-handed starters: Radford junior Eddie Butler (Chesapeake, Va.), Princeton junior Zak Hermans (Coppell, Texas), North Carolina junior Chris Munnelly (Winston-Salem, N.C.), Texas State senior Mitchell Pitts (Highland Village, Texas) and Houston senior Jared Ray (Waco, Texas). 

 

For all of the latest information on Florida baseball, log on to http://www.gatorzone.com/baseball/ or, for in-game scoring updates, follow the team’s Twitter account @GatorZoneBB at www.twitter.com/GatorZoneBB

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