Thursday May 17, 2012Randall Twirls Three-Hitter As No. 3 Baseball Downs Auburn, 6-0; Tucker Becomes UF's Hit Leader
Junior Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) held the SEC’s top offense to three singles for his third career complete game and senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) became the school’s all-time hit leader as No. 3 Florida (39-15/17-11 SEC) captured the opening game of its weekend series with a 6-0 shutout of Auburn (29-25/12-16 SEC) on Thursday night at Plainsman Park. It marked the first time that the Tigers had been held scoreless this season.
In other SEC action tonight, Mississippi State upended Kentucky, 3-1, bringing the Gators to one game behind the Wildcats (41-13/18-10 SEC). LSU (40-13/17-10 SEC) and South Carolina (38-13/17-9 SEC) were rained out and will play a doubleheader tomorrow afternoon in Columbia. The Gamecocks now sit atop the league standings by a half game.
Randall (7-1) captured his fourth-straight outing and delivered the first complete game by a Gator pitcher since he went the distance on April 1, 2011, against Tennessee. The righty registered three strikeouts and issued one walk, only surrendering base-hits in the first, fifth and eighth innings. In his last four starts, Randall has defeated No. 17 Arkansas, No. 3 Kentucky, No. 25 Mississippi State and Auburn and is 4-0 with a 1.88 earned run average over 28.2 innings.
Tucker went 3-for-4 and established a new career hit record with a two-run homer in the second inning, while junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) chipped in with a 3-for-4, three-run performance and junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) was 2-for-4 and matched the UF single-season record with his 23rd double. The Orange and Blue has now claimed its last six league series openers and six of its 10 hits on the night went for extra bases, courtesy of four doubles, a triple and Tucker’s round-tripper.
The Gators loaded the bases with none out against senior Jon Luke Jacobs (5-3) in the first inning and scored the game’s opening run on a sacrifice fly by senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.). Fontana had with a leadoff single through the left side of the infield, Tucker was hit by a pitch and Zunino singled into right field to fill the bases. Jacobs retired junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) on an infield pop-up and a fly ball to the triangle in left field by Pigott, his fifth sac fly of the year, brought home Fontana. After a wild pitch advanced both runners into scoring position, Jacobs had freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) fly out to left field to keep the deficit at a run.
UF expanded its lead to 5-0 in the second on an RBI triple by freshman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.), a sacrifice fly by junior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) and a two-run homer by Tucker that enabled him to become the Gators’ all-time hit leader. Freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) was plunked to begin the inning and came around to score on Tobias’ line-drive off the right-field wall that resulted in his second three-bagger of the season. Ramjit plated Tobias with his second sac fly to straightaway center field and Fontana collected his second hit of the night with a double into right center. Tucker stepped to the plate and tagged a 1-1 offering from Jacobs over the right-field wall for his 13th homer and his 320th career hit to surpass the previous record of 319 held by Mark Ellis (1996-99). When Tucker broke Brad Wilkerson’s school record for career RBI earlier this season he did it with a round-tripper against William & Mary on Feb. 25. Sophomore Jay Wade replaced Jacobs (1.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R) and had Zunino ground out before hitting Johnson for the Gators’ third HBP of the game.
Zunino delivered Florida’s third sacrifice fly of the outing in the fourth to bring in Fontana for a 6-0 advantage. Fontana walked with one down and moved into scoring position with his 11th stolen base in 11 attempts this year. Tucker singled into left field for runners on the corners and Zunino lofted his team-leading eighth sac fly to right to bring home Fontana with his third run.
Randall retired 10-consecutive Auburn batters before senior Justin Bryant reached on an error by Tobias to start the home part of the fifth. A fielder’s choice by junior Patrick Savage forced Bryant at second base and sophomore Dan Glevenyak poked a single up the middle for the Tigers’ first hit since the opening frame. Randall pitched out of trouble by having sophomore Blake Austin hit into an inning-ending 5-3 double play.
Zunino matched the school’s single-season record with his 23rd double with one down in the ninth, equaling his output from 2012. Florida held a 10-3 advantage in hits and will send Johnson (5-4, 4.29) to the bump in tomorrow’s game two at 7 p.m. ET against Tiger freshman Daniel Koger (3-4, 2.76). The contest can be heard on Country 103.7 The Gator with Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell.