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Sunday April 15, 2012No. 4 UF Baseball Takes Series At Tennessee, 8-1

Knoxville, Tenn.

No. 4 Florida (28-8/9-6 SEC) used a four-run first inning and scored in the first four frames to take the rubber game of its series at Tennessee (21-15/7-8 SEC), 8-1, on Sunday afternoon in front of 3,322 fans at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Junior left-hander Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (5-1) tossed six scoreless innings and helped his own cause with a three-run double in the first inning that set the tone for the afternoon.

 

After claiming the series on its last trip to Rocky Top in 2010, it marked the first time since 1998-2000-2002 that the Gators had emerged victorious in consecutive visits to Knoxville. At the halfway point of the SEC schedule, Florida trails co-leaders No. 2 Kentucky (32-5/11-4 SEC) and No. 7 LSU (30-7/11-4 SEC) by two games.

 

The Gators raced out to a 4-0 lead in their initial at bat on a bases-clearing double by Johnson (1-for-3) and a sacrifice fly by freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.). Junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (2-for-4) opened the game with a single into right center field off of sophomore Nick Williams (2-4) and junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (1-for-3, two runs) was hit by a pitch for the second-straight plate appearance in the series. A base-hit into right field by senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-4) loaded the bases with one down and Johnson drove in all of his teammates with a two-bagger down the right-field line and took third on the relay throw home. Shafer’s fifth sac fly of the year into left field scored Johnson.

 

Junior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) (2-for-4, two runs) opened the second with a homer into the left-field seats to give Florida a 5-0 lead. It was his fourth round-tripper of the season and first since March 31 at Ole Miss. Fontana followed with a walk to end the afternoon for Williams (1.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R). Sophomore Carter Watson had freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) hit into an inning-ending 6-3 double play.

 

UF plated another run in the third on a two-out error to build a 6-0 advantage. Zunino and Tucker started the inning with back-to-back singles before Johnson grounded into a 4-6-3 double play that erased Tucker and moved Zunino to third base. Junior third baseman Zach Luther misplayed a ball hit by Shafer that enabled Zunino to come across.

 

The Gators tacked on two more runs on three hits in the fourth to boost their margin to 8-0. Senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) began the frame with his seventh double of the year into left field and Ramjit followed with a base-hit up the middle. Junior Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) delivered an RBI single through the left side to drive in Pigott, the runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch by Watson and Turgeon lofted a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Ramjit.

 

Senior Zach Osborne opened the Vols’ fifth into left field and Johnson started a 1-6-3 double play on a ball hit by freshman Will Maddox. Soon after, Dent made a great defensive play on Luther’s grounder to complete the inning.

 

Johnson departed after six strong innings in which he scattered six hits, with four strikeouts and a walk, and senior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) kept Tennessee off the board in the seventh. Larson’s 104th career appearance moved him past Josh Fogg (1996-98) for fourth on the school’s all-time list.

 

Sophomore Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) entered the game for Florida in the eighth and had Luther ground out before issuing a walk to junior Drew Steckenrider (2-for-3). Freshman Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) plunked senior Davis Morgan for a pair of runners aboard and had a groundout by junior Chris Fritts push both Vols into scoring position. Freshman Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) had freshman pinch hitter Jared Allen ground out to strand the runners.

 

Sophomore Keenan Kish (Worcester, Pa.) yielded a two-out RBI single to Maddox in the ninth that scored senior Chris Pierce to prevent the shutout. The Gators held an 11-7 advantage in hits this afternoon. Florida will kick off a nine-game stretch at McKethan Stadium on Tuesday night against Georgia Southern (22-16/10-8 SoCon) and will host Georgia (22-14/7-8 SEC) next weekend.

 

Game Notes

·         Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is now 11-4 during his tenure against Tennessee, 5-4 in Knoxville.

·         The Gators’ last four series have come down to a deciding third game and they are 2-2 in that span, with wins over No. 6 South Carolina and Tennessee and losses to No. 16 Ole Miss and No. 7 LSU.

·         The series drew 9,561 fans to Lindsey Nelson Stadium, the second-highest attended series in Tennessee history behind Florida’s visit in 1994 (11,280).

·         Five Gator relievers combined to allow one hit and one run over three innings.

·         Junior Nolan Fontana batted .667 (6-for-9) on the weekend with five walks and junior Brian Johnson was 6-for-12 (.500) with six RBI, two doubles and a homer.

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