Thursday September 20, 2012Gator Baseball Names 2012 Award Recipients
The Gator Dugout Club, supporters of the University of Florida baseball program, announced its award winners from the 2012 season on Thursday following voting from its membership. Left-hander/designated hitter Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.), third baseman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.), right fielder Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) and catcher Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) each emerged victorious after the ballots were counted.
Johnson will be the recipient of the P.A. Lee Memorial Award, presented to the Gator baseball player who best exemplifies P.A. Lee's positive and enthusiastic attitude. Lee was an assistant coach at UF from 1962-72. Johnson, the 2012 John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year, was a first-team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and Perfect Game and a second-team All-American by Baseball America and Louisville Slugger. The first-round selection of the Boston Red Sox at No. 31 overall was chosen first-team All-SEC for the past two seasons. In 2012, Johnson was 8-5 with a 3.90 earned run average on the mound and had 73 strikeouts in 90 innings, to go along with a .307 clip, 41 RBI, 24 runs, 13 doubles and six homers.
The southpaw tossed his first career complete game to oust fourth-ranked South Carolina from the SEC Tourney on May 25 and matched his career high with four hits in the semifinal round the following day against Vanderbilt. He was named to the 2012 SEC All-Tournament Team at both pitcher and designated hitter. During the NCAA Gainesville Regional, Johnson limited the high-powered Georgia Tech offense to one run on three hits over five innings as the Gators cruised to a 15-3 victory over the Jackets to punch their fourth-straight ticket to Super Regionals. He batted .429 (3-for-7) in the sweep of No. 11 NC State and tied the second encounter with the Wolfpack with a solo homer in the eighth inning of Florida’s eventual 9-8 triumph in 10 innings.
Tobias will receive the Steve Georgiadis Award, presented to the Gator baseball player who has most overcome adversity. The Georgiadis Award is given in memory of former Gator pitcher Steve Georgiadis, who passed away on March 17, 1990. After suffering a hand injury at South Carolina on March 22, Tobias did not return to action at third base until over a month later against Bethune-Cookman. He became the lone Gator selected to the SEC’s All-Freshman Team, marking the third year in a row that a UF third baseman had made the squad, following Austin Maddox (2010) and Zack Powers (2011). Tobias started 44 of the 51 games that he played at third base and hit .252 with 26 runs, 10 RBI and seven extra-base hits (five doubles, two triples). He roped a pair of singles and scored in the NCAA College World Series meeting with No. 4 South Carolina. During the NCAA Gainesville Super Regional, he was 3-for-9 (.333) and scored twice. Tobias provided what proved to be the winning margin with a two-out RBI single in the 10th inning of game two against No. 11 NC State and also blasted a two-run double in the NCAA Gainesville Regional final triumph over No. 24 Georgia Tech.
Tucker will collect the Mr. Gator Baseball Award, symbolic of the player who most personifies the spirit of Gator Baseball. In his final campaign, he achieved All-America status from the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) for the second-consecutive season after hitting .321 with 57 runs, 50 RBI, 35 walks, 17 doubles and 16 round-trippers. A seventh-round pick of the Houston Astros, Tucker departed Gainesville as the school’s all-time leader in games played (265), games started (259), total bases (596), at bats (1,035), hits (341), RBI (258) and doubles (70).
Tucker was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2012 after being a first-team choice during his junior season and a second-team pick in 2010. He powered UF’s offense with a .393 (11-for-28) performance in NCAA play and became the first Gator to achieve Regional All-Tournament status all four years of his career. He is the lone UF player to earn Most Outstanding Player recognition twice (2009 & 2011). In 30 career NCAA Tourney games, Tucker batted .368 (46-for-125) and holds school records in career at bats (125), hits (46), RBI (31), runs (29), homers (11) and doubles (10).
Zunino earned the Dave Fuller Award for the second-straight season, presented annually to the year's most timely hitter. Fuller guided Florida's program from 1948-75 and compiled an overall mark of 557-354-6 (.610) over his 28 seasons at the helm. The highest MLB Draft pick in school history at No. 3 overall by the Seattle Mariners, Zunino capped off one of the greatest individual seasons by a University of Florida student-athlete by being the recipient of the 2012 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award. Zunino joined fellow catcher Buster Posey (2008) as the only player to collect the Golden Spikes Award, the Dick Howser Trophy and the Johnny Bench Award in the same campaign.
Zunino, a consensus first-team All-American, was the first Dick Howser Trophy recipient from Florida, Baseball America’s 2012 College Player of the Year and the initial Johnny Bench Award winner from UF. He finished as the Gators’ “Triple Crown” winner, leading the team in batting average (.322), RBI (67) and homers (19), and paced the Orange and Blue in total bases (164), doubles (28), sacrifice flies (11) and slugging percentage (.669). He was also 9-for-10 on the basepaths. According to the final NCAA statistics, Zunino was first nationally in sacrifice flies, third in doubles, fourth in round-trippers, fifth in total bases, ninth in doubles per game, 10th in RBI and 11th in slugging percentage.
A two-time, first-team All-SEC recipient and two-time member of the league’s All-Defensive Team, the three-year starter registered a .994 fielding percentage in his final campaign, with three errors in 510 chances, and threw out 20 runners who attempted to steal on him. Zunino became the first Gator catcher to be voted as a first-team All-American twice. In his Florida career, he batted .327 in 193 games, including 188 starts. His total of 17 sacrifice flies matches Mario Linares (1988-91) for the most by a UF player and he ranks fourth on the school’s all-time list in both doubles (58) and homers (47), occupies sixth in slugging percentage (.620) and RBI (175) and rates seventh in total bases (425).