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Tuesday March 20, 2012No. 1 Baseball Notches 18th-Straight Win, 5-3 Over Samford

Gainesville, Fla.

Junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) was 2-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs and freshman right-hander Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.) had a career-high six strikeouts as No. 1 Florida (20-1) defeated Samford (13-8), 5-3, on Tuesday night to complete a perfect 10-0 homestand and increase its school-record winning streak to 18 games.


Magliozzi (2-0) collected his second victory by working four innings in a pre-determined start, while junior Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) retired all three Bulldogs in the ninth to register his seventh save in as many chances. Senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-4) and freshman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) (2-for-3) also chipped in with multiple-hit efforts.


“Samford has a really good club,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “They have some great arms with a veteran lineup. I knew this was not going to be easy, but in the same token, I was really pleased with the way Johnny [Magliozzi] threw the ball tonight in the best outing of his career. Then, Bobby Poyner came in and did a nice job and obviously [Greg] Larson and [Austin] Maddox did a nice job as well. Overall, it was a great team effort. ”


“We had to come out ready to play,” Zunino said. “They’re a great ballclub. They came out and threw some great arms at us, had some great at bats and it’s something we knew we couldn’t overlook. We just went out there ready to play and had a good battle.”


“Samford is a real competitive team that we have had trouble with in the past,” Tucker said. “With the big SEC weekend ahead, I wouldn’t say we overlooked this game but we didn’t play to our potential. We are doing a great job at grinding out these games. I think every time they scored a run, we responded to score another one.”


Senior Brandon Miller provided the Bulldogs with a 1-0 lead in the first inning with a two-out RBI single. Junior Zeth Stone opened the game with a double off Magliozzi and the righty responded by striking out the next two batters. Miller then ripped Magliozzi’s first pitch into left field to collect his team-leading 30th RBI.


The Gators answered in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single by Zunino off junior Lex Rutledge (0-2). Senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (1-for-3, two runs) singled with one down through the left side of the infield and Tucker moved his teammate to third base with a base-hit into right field. After Zunino plated Pigott with the tying run, Rutledge struck out freshman Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) and had Maddox ground out.


Magliozzi set down the Bulldogs in order in the second and the Gators seized the lead with two runs on three hits for a 3-1 advantage. Freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) led off with an infield single and moved into scoring position with his first career stolen base. Freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) advanced Shafer to third with a grounder and Tobias put the Gators on top with an RBI single up the middle. Junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) delivered a single into right field for a pair of runners aboard and prompted a pitching change. Senior Joseph Burns replaced Rutledge (1.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R) and a fly ball by Pigott pushed Tobias to third and left runners on the corners with two down. Burns uncorked a wild pitch that brought home Tobias for a 3-1 count but had Tucker pop up to the catcher for the final out of the frame.  


Freshman Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) took over for Magliozzi (4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 6 K) prior to the fifth and yielded a leadoff single to senior Kevin Putkonen. Allison sacrificed his teammate to second with a bunt and Poyner fanned Stone for the second out. Putkonen swiped third base and senior Brad Moss (2-for-4) narrowed the gap to 3-2 with a double to center field. A wild pitch by Poyner enabled Moss to take third and Poyner stranded the runner with an inning-ending strikeout of senior Saxon Butler.


After Burns tossed 2.2 hitless and scoreless innings, freshman Andres Garcia came for Samford in the home part of the frame. Tucker started things off with his fourth double of the year, moving him to third place all-time at Florida with 57, four shy of the school record held by Mark Ellis (1996-99). Gushue gave the Gators a 4-2 lead with a one-out RBI single into shallow center field.


Poyner recorded the first two outs of the sixth before sophomore C.K. Irby (2-for-4) tripled to straightaway center field. The southpaw had junior Tommy Corbin fly out to right field to preserve the two-run Gator advantage.


A dropped fly ball with two down in the seventh by Shafer proved costly, as Stone reached second base on the play and stole third base uncontested. Moss delivered a base-knock into left field that brought the Bulldogs within 4-3 and Poyner struck out Butler to complete the frame.  


In the bottom of the inning, Pigott was plunked by redshirt senior Taylor Hammond with one down and the lefty jammed Tucker on an infield fly. Zunino greeted senior reliever Tyler Vanderheiden with a double into the left-field corner that scored Pigott all the way from first base for a 5-3 Florida lead.


Senior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) came in at the top of the eighth after Poyner worked three innings, allowing four hits and two runs (one earned), with three strikeouts. It was the 97th career appearance for Larson, moving him to fifth on the school’s career chart. Miller drew a leadoff walk, the first free pass permitted by the Gators all night, and the right-hander induced a 5-4-3 double play on a grounder by sophomore Phillip Ervin. Larson had Irby ground out to Fontana to close the inning. Maddox would set down the Bulldogs 1-2-3 to secure the Gator triumph.


Florida begins an eight-game road trip on Thursday night at No. 6 South Carolina (16-4/0-3 SEC). The opener will be carried live on ESPNU starting at 7:30 p.m. and can be heard on WRUF SportsRadio 850.


Game Notes

·         Florida now leads the series with Samford, 3-0, in what was the teams’ first encounter since March 29, 2000.

·         The win over the Bulldogs gave the Gators their 12th comeback win of the season.

·         Freshman Johnny Magliozzi’s previous career high was three strikeouts against Bethune-Cookman on Feb. 21.

·         Florida had a rare 1-3-1 putout to begin the third inning, as a ball from redshirt junior Austin Allison ricocheted off Magliozzi’s foot, rolled near the dugout and freshman first baseman Taylor Gushue had a relay throw that Magliozzi bare-handed and tagged the bag while jumping over a sliding Allison.

·         The Gators’ two errors matched a season high, done twice previously.

·         Senior Greg Larson (97) moved past Josh Edmondson (96, 2005-08) on UF’s career appearances’ list.

·         The Gators are now 20-0 when holding an opponent to six runs or fewer.

·         UF’s pitching staff totaled 10 strikeouts and issued one walk.

·         Florida has not allowed its opponent to score more than five runs in 17-straight games.


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