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Saturday June 9, 2012No. 1 Florida Downs No. 11 NC State, 7-1, In Super Regional Opener

Gainesville, Fla.

Junior Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) threw seven shutout innings and junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) drove in three runs and had a two-run homer as No. 1 Florida (46-18) downed No. 11 NC State (43-19), 7-1, in the opening game of the best-of-three NCAA Gainesville Super Regional on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium.

 

The contest was delayed twice for a total of two hours and 51 minutes before it was completed. Game two will be on Sunday at 1 p.m. and be shown nationally on ESPNU, with the Gators needing one more victory to punch the program’s third-consecutive ticket to the NCAA College World Series.

 

“I thought we played very well,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “The four-run third inning was obviously big for us; it gave us a really good lead. Hudson was outstanding on the mound, again. It seems like every time he goes to the mound, he gives us a quality start. He dialed in today and he was very good. He scattered six hits, but didn’t walk anybody. He did a great job of getting lead-off hitters out to start innings.”

 

“Mike [Zunino] had a great day at the plate. He battled with two strikes and got the RBI with runners on second and third with one out, and obviously the two-run homer was great as well. I look forward to tomorrow. We know that tomorrow is a totally different game than it was today. We can’t carry any runs into tomorrow. We know NC State is throwing arguably, their ace tomorrow, and we have to come out and be ready to play. We’re one win away, and we’ll see what happens.”

 

Randall (9-2) scattered six singles over seven strong innings, with four strikeouts and zero walks. The righty has now permitted two runs or less in 11 of his 15 starts this year, including his last five outings, and also picked up his school-record fifth win in NCAA Tourney action. Following the extended weather delay that began at 4:20 p.m., Zunino cranked a two-run homer over the left-field bleachers in the bottom of the seventh and the teams later endured another 48-minute break before wrapping up the game. The Gators had a four-run third inning to seize control of the contest, while senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) was 2-for-3 with a three runs and senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) tallied two RBI.

 

Junior first baseman Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) made a spectacular play to rob NCSU freshman Brett Austin of a leadoff single to begin the third inning. Ramjit made a diving stop, nearly rolled into the first-base umpire and threw from his back to Randall covering the bag for the out. The right-hander caught junior Matt Bergquist looking on strikes and had freshman Trea Turner ground out to complete the stanza.

 

In the home part of the frame, the Gators plated four runs on four singles and a Wolfpack throwing error to take a 4-0 lead. Freshman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) singled up the middle with one down off junior Ethan Ogburn (5-4) and junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) sliced a base-hit through the right side with Tobias on the move for runners on the corners. Tucker then made it three-straight singles for the Orange and Blue with a base-knock into right center that brought across Tobias. A passed ball by Austin enabled Fontana and Tucker to advance and a throwing error by junior shortstop Chris Diaz on a grounder by Zunino enabled the Gators to build a 3-0 advantage. With Zunino in scoring position and two down, Pigott stroked an RBI single into center field to score his teammate with the fourth run.

 

NC State put two runners aboard in the fourth, as junior Danny Canela (2-for-3) had a one-out single into center field and junior Tarran Senay delivered a two-out single. However, Tucker tracked down a fly ball by senior Andrew Ciencin that was in the gap between right and center to retire the side.    

 

Freshman Jake Fincher (2-for-4) started the fifth with a single up the middle and Randall responded by having Austin fly out to left field. The righty struck out Bergquist, with Fincher stealing second base on the pitch, and then had Turner ground out to keep the Wolfpack scoreless.

 

The Gators added another run in the fifth on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Pigott for a 5-0 margin. Tucker led off with his second hit, a single into right field, and collected his fifth theft of the campaign. Zunino blooped a single into center field just beyond the reach of Fincher, leaving the Gators with runners on first and third with none out. Junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) drew a walk to load the bases and Pigott lofted a fly ball to the warning track in right field to score Zunino for a five-run lead. Sophomore D.J. Thomas replaced Ogburn (4.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER) and induced an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play from freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.).

 

Randall retired eight-consecutive NC State hitters before yielding back-to-back two-out singles in the seventh to Fincher and Austin. Randall had tomorrow’s starting pitcher, freshman pinch hitter Carlos Rodon, ground out to close the frame and finish his outing.

 

Tucker earned a free pass to start UF’s seventh and freshman Dillon Frye took over for Thomas (1.2 IP, 1 H). With Zunino at the plate, the game went into a rain delay at 4:20 p.m. Play resumed at 6:23 p.m. and Zunino jacked a 3-2 pitch to deep left field for his SEC-leading 19th homer to match his output from last year and tie the school’s single-season record again for homers along with David Ross (1998) and Tony Socarras (2000). Zunino has now homered in his last three games (two against Georgia Tech and today).

 

Senior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) replaced Randall out of the rain delay and registered the first two outs before walking Canela in a driving rainstorm, prompting another delay at 6:38 p.m. Action resumed at 7:26 p.m. and redshirt senior Ryan Mathews singled to left field and went to second on a fielding error by freshman left fielder Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.)., with Canela moving to third. Freshman Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) came in for Larson (0.2 IP, 1 H) and caught Senay looking on strikes to strand the runners.

 

Poyner (0.2 IP) had Ciencin fly out to center field to open the ninth and sophomore Keenan Kish (Worcester, Pa.) surrendered  a two-out double down the right-field line to Austin (2-for-4) before yielding a pinch-hit RBI single by senior John Gianis that finalized the 7-1 margin. The Gators held a 10-9 advantage in hits. Sophomore righty Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) (6-2, 2.92) will oppose Rodon (9-0, 1.61) tomorrow at 1 p.m.

 

Game Notes

·         All five of the meetings on the diamond between Florida and NC State have occurred in the NCAA Tournament, with the Gators posting a 4-1 mark.

·         Florida’s four-game winning streak is its longest since the school-record 18-game stretch between Feb. 21-March 22.

·         UF improved to 22-10 against top-25 opponents this year and is 9-0 versus ACC foes (3-0 vs. Florida State & Miami (Fla.), 2-0 vs. Georgia Tech and 1-0 vs. NC State).

·         In its six Super Regional appearances, Florida is now 4-2 in game one of the series.

·         Junior Hudson Randall collected his fifth NCAA Tourney victory to become Florida’s all-time leader. He also holds the program bests in NCAA innings pitched (57.2), strikeouts (49) and games started (9).

·         In Randall’s 15 starts this year, he has surrendered two or less runs 11 times, including the last five outings.

·         The Gators were 3-for-3 on the basepaths this afternoon.

·         Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan boosted his mark to 17-3 at McKethan Stadium during NCAA play.

·         The Orange and Blue is 12-3 this year in the opener of a three-game series.

·         Junior catcher Mike Zunino hit his team-leading 19th homer of the season. With the homer, Zunino tied his record for most home runs in a season by a UF catcher, a mark he reached last season.

·         Zunino, who now has eight NCAA tournament homers, has homered in the past three games, the first time a Gator has accomplished that feat this season.

·         Senior outfielder Daniel Pigott tallied his ninth multi-RBI game of the season.

·         Freshman Casey Turgeon’s career-best hitting streak of nine games ended with a 0-for-4 outing.

·         Florida notched its 30th win of the campaign at McKethan Stadium and is 30-8 on its own turf this year.

·         The 7-1 loss is North Carolina State’s largest margin of defeat since a 14-6 setback against Georgia Tech on March 9.

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