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Tuesday May 8, 2012Zunino's Walk-Off Double In 11th Lifts No. 5 Baseball Past North Florida, 4-3

Gainesville, Fla.

Florida junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) delivered a game-winning double in the 11th inning that scored redshirt freshman Connor Mitchell (Tampa, Fla.) all the way from first base as the fifth-ranked Gators (36-13) edged North Florida (28-21), 4-3, on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium.

 

Mitchell, who had entered the game as a pinch runner in the seventh inning, began the decisive frame with a single into right field off Osprey senior Andrew Karmeris (0-2). Mitchell’s second hit of the campaign set the stage for Zunino (3-for-5, two RBI) and the All-American responded by sending a 2-2 pitch into the left-field corner that enabled Mitchell to slide home with the winning run. Zunino’s second double of the night marked the first walk-off hit by a Gator since Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) had a base-hit in the ninth to defeat Miami (Fla.), 5-4, in the NCAA Gainesville Regional on June 4, 2011.

 

“This time of year, any time you get a win you have to feel good about it,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I thought our pitching was really good. Keenan Kish did an outstanding job - he came in and once again threw four innings with no runs. [Greg] Larson came in and did his thing. Paco [Steven Rodriguez] came in and had a couple of big strikeouts with bases loaded. I thought that Ryan Harris did a good job, too. Overall, I thought our pitching was good. Obviously, we still have some things to correct and improve on, but the most important thing is that we got the win tonight. It was good to see Connor Mitchell get a hit in the bottom half of the 11th inning and lead it off for Mike [Zunino].”

 

Freshman Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) (2-0) picked up the win by hurling a scoreless 11th and the Gator bullpen surrendered one run over 8.1 innings of work, led by four shutout frames by sophomore Keenan Kish (Worcester, Pa.) and 2.2 hitless and scoreless frames by junior Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.). North Florida had tied the game in the eighth stanza on a one-out double by sophomore Alex Bacon (3-for-4, two RBI). The teams combined for 27 hits, with UF having a 14-13 advantage, and the teams stranded 26 runners.

 

Florida threatened in the first inning against UNF southpaw Tommy Organ but came away empty-handed. Fontana (2-for-4) led off with a double into right field after a 10-pitch at bat and went to third on a fly ball to right field by freshman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) (2-for-4). Senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) popped up to shortstop and Zunino flew out to left field to end the inning.

 

Karmeris began the second inning with a single into left center off freshman Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.) but was gunned down trying to steal second by Zunino. Bacon followed with his sixth homer of the season into the left-field bleachers to begin the scoring.

 

The Gators answered with a two-out RBI double by freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) (2-for-3) in the home part of the frame to even the score. Junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) opened the inning with a single through the right side of the infield but was forced at second base on a fielder’s choice by senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-5). Pigott moved into scoring position with his fourth stolen base and took third on a grounder by freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) before Shafer rifled his fifth double into the left-field corner to bring home Pigott.

 

North Florida re-claimed the lead in the third inning on a two-out RBI single by sophomore Tyler Marincov (2-for-5). Senior T.J. Gavlik (2-for-6) singled up the middle to begin the stanza and was sacrificed to second by junior Joe Wielbruda (2-for-5). A fly ball near the warning track in right field by sophomore Ryan Roberson (2-for-5) pushed Gavlik to third and Marincov put the Ospreys on top with a base-hit into left field. Kish replaced Magliozzi (2.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R) and had Karmeris fly out to center field.

 

Zunino delivered a game-tying double with two down in the bottom of the inning to score Tucker. Tobias had a one-out infield single but was erased on a fielder’s choice by Tucker. Zunino collected his SEC-leading 20th double into the gap in right center.

 

Junior Nick Allbritton took over for Organ (3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R) prior to the Gator fourth and retired the side in order.

 

Junior Corey Bass started the fifth with a base-hit into center field and Tobias made a tremendous stop at third base on a ball hit by Gavlik and fired to Turgeon covering second base to get the lead runner. Kish had a grounder by Wielbruda force Gavlik at second base for the second out and Roberson followed with a single into left field. However, Shafer gunned down Wielbruda trying to take third to complete the frame.

 

Fontana provided the hosts with their first lead of the night in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff homer off of the scoreboard overlooking right field. It was his ninth round-tripper of the season and first since April 24 against USF.

 

Kish recorded the first two outs in the seventh before yielding a single up the middle to Gavlik. Over four innings, which matched his career high set against Arkansas on April 28, Kish scattered four hits and registered three strikeouts. Senior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) was summoned from the bullpen and Wielbruda legged out an infield single for a pair of Ospreys aboard before the reliever had Roberson hit a comebacker to the mound to end the inning.

 

Tucker had a two-out double in the seventh, his 13th two bagger of the season that brought him within three hits of breaking Mark Ellis’ career mark of 319. Zunino was walked intentionally by senior Evan Stermer and the move paid off when the reliever had Johnson go down swinging on strikes to preserve UNF’s 3-2 deficit.

 

Marincov greeted sophomore Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) with a single to open the eighth and stole second base. The righty answered with a strikeout of Karmeris and Bacon tied the game with a double down the left-field line. Rodriguez fanned senior Michael Wesner and had freshman Drew Weeks fly out to keep the game tied.

 

In the bottom of the inning, Pigott stroked a leadoff single off senior reliever Chandler Jagodzinski and Turgeon drew a four-pitch walk to put the Gators in business. Shafer laid down his first sacrifice bunt of the season to move both runners into scoring position and a fielder’s choice by junior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) resulted in Pigott being thrown out at the plate after a run-down, Turgeon occupying third and Ramjit taking second base. An intentional walk to Fontana loaded the bases and Jagodzinski struck out senior pinch hitter Jeff Moyer (Winter Springs, Fla.) to send the game to the ninth deadlocked at three runs apiece.

 

After Zunino had a one-out single into left center field and stole second with two down in the ninth, Pigott hit a sinking liner to right field that Marcinov snared with a great catch to send the contest into extra innings.   

 

The Ospreys loaded the bases with one down in the 10th but were foiled by back-to-back strikeouts by Rodriguez. Marincov reached on a fielding error by Moyer with one down and a throwing error to second base by Rodriguez on a fielder’s choice by Andrew Karmeris left UNF with runners on the corners. An intentional free pass to Bacon filled the bags and Rodriguez struck out both junior pinch hitter Paul Karmeris and Weeks.

 

Freshman Jamie Cardwell came in for Jagodzinski (2.0 IP, 2 H) and issued a leadoff walk to Turgeon. Shafer moved his teammate into scoring position with his second sacrifice hit of the night and North Florida brought Andrew Karmeris to the mound from first base. The righty fanned Ramjit and walked Fontana intentionally for two Gators aboard. Moyer popped up to the catcher to keep the stalemate.

 

After Rodriguez worked 2.2 scoreless and hitless innings, Harris took over to start the 11th. The righty had two fly balls to right field before Wielbruda beat out a single to extend the inning. Harris struck out Cardwell to complete the frame.

 

Florida returns to SEC action on Friday night with the opener of a three-game series against No. 25 Mississippi State (30-18/12-12 SEC). First pitch between the Gators and Bulldogs from McKethan Stadium will be at 7:05 p.m.

 

Game Notes

·         Florida split the season series with North Florida, falling in Jacksonville (10-5) and winning at McKethan Stadium (4-3).

·         The Gators improved to 2-1 in extra innings this year, while the Ospreys fell to 1-1.

·         UF evened its mark to 5-5 in one-run contests in 2012.

·         The Orange and Blue is now 24-7 on its own turf this season.

·         Florida posted its 20th come-from-behind victory of the campaign, matching last season’s total.

·         UF leads the series against the Ospreys by a 6-5 count.

·         The Gators had five doubles tonight and a pair of sacrifice hits, both by freshman Justin Shafer.

·         Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is now 6-3 in his tenure against UNF.

·         Freshman Casey Turgeon drew three walks and junior Nolan Fontana was walked intentionally twice.

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