Monday February 18, 2013No. 13 Florida Baseball Visits UCF On Tuesday Night
After beginning its season by taking two of three games from Duke at McKethan Stadium, No. 13 Florida (2-1) visits UCF (2-1) on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the front end of a home-and-home series. The Knights will come to Gainesville for a mid-week matchup on April 2. UCF opened its campaign with a pair of wins over Siena (7-1, 4-7, 8-2) at Jay Bergman Field.
Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell will call the action for the Gator IMG Sports Network, live stats will be available on GatorZone.com and fans can also follow updates of each game on @GatorZoneBB, the official Twitter account of the Gator baseball team.
Tuesday kicks off a five-game week for head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s team, as it will return home to face Georgia Southern (2-1) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. before a three-game set with FGCU (2-1). The Gators were 16-12 (.571) away from Gainesville last season, 13-8 (.619) on an opponent’s home field and 3-4 (.429) at neutral sites.
Starting with the encounter at UCF, Florida will meet a team from the Sunshine State in 19 of its 26 non-conference games this season. The series with FGCU from Friday-Sunday triggers a stretch of nine consecutive games versus an in-state foe, as the Gators will host North Florida next Tuesday and then Miami for three games before a pair of mid-week contests against Jacksonville on the road and then at home.
Junior Keenan Kish (Worcester, Pa.) (0-0, 0.00) will be making the first start of his collegiate career and will oppose UCF senior left-hander Brian Adkins (0-0, 0.00). Kish threw 1.1 scoreless innings in the season opener against Duke, giving up two hits and totaling a pair of strikeouts. The righty has made 26 relief appearances in his career and is 0-0 with a 1.47 ERA in 43 innings of action. The righty has registered 42 strikeouts and issued 12 walks and boasted a K:BB ratio of 28:5 last year.
The Gators have claimed their season-opening series in all six years of O’Sullivan’s tenure. The Blue Devils posted a 4-3 win on Friday night, UF evened the series with a 4-2 triumph on Saturday and then captured the rubber game in Sunday’s finale by a 16-5 margin.
The Gator relievers registered a 1.08 earned run average in 16.2 innings of work, with 11 strikeouts, and limited the Blue Devils to a .190 batting average. In all, the Orange and Blue used 13 different pitchers, six of whom were freshmen. Florida batted .269 (25-for-93) as team, led by senior center fielder Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.), who was 3-for-8 (.375), and sophomores Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) (.300, 3 R, 2 2B) and Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (.300, 4 R, 3 RBI, 3 BB). Sophomore RHP Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) made a pair of scoreless appearances and collected Sunday’s win.
Fueled by a pair of grand slams and nine RBI by redshirt sophomore Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.), who was chosen as the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week on Monday, Florida erupted for 14 runs over its final three at bats to register the series-clinching victory over Duke. Powers (2-for-3) joined Preston Tucker as the lone Gators to belt two grand slams in the same outing, as Tucker had accomplished the feat on April 8, 2009, against UCF.
Florida scored four runs on five hits in the sixth inning to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 advantage, including a game-tying sacrifice fly by Powers and a go-ahead two-run single by sophomore Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.). Powers delivered grand slams in both the seventh and eighth innings and the Gator offense totaled a season-high 13 hits. Harris tossed 2.2 scoreless innings to earn the win, while freshman Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) went 2-for-4 with two runs and two stolen bases and Dent was 2-for-3 with an RBI single. The series attendance of 13,242 for the three games was the third-highest on an opening weekend in school history. Shafer made his collegiate starting debut after six relief appearances last season but was not involved in the decision after 2.2 innings in which he gave up three hits and two runs.
Florida evened the series with a 4-2 victory on Saturday. Turgeon clubbed a three-run homer in the first inning, freshman right-hander Tucker Simpson (Oxford, Ala.) worked four innings in his collegiate debut, freshman left-hander Parker Danciu (Delray Beach, Fla.) (1-0) earned the win in his first action with 3.2 shutout innings and sophomore Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.) collected his first career save by setting down all four Blue Devils he faced.
Duke snapped a 2-2 tie with a pair of runs in the eighth inning to collect a 4-3 win in front of an Opening Night record crowd of 5,771 fans at McKethan Stadium on Friday. It was UF’s first season-opening setback since 2007. Gator redshirt freshman Cory Reid (Port St. Luice, Fla.) had opened the scoring with a two-out RBI single down the right-field line in the second inning. The Gators started a trio of freshmen on Opening Night: Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) (left field), Martin (shortstop) and Reid (right field) and all three registered their first collegiate hits. Bader was the first Gator freshman to bat leadoff on Opening Day since 2003 (Stephen Barton – designated hitter). Martin became the first freshman starting shortstop for Florida since Nolan Fontana (2010) began a three-year run at the position. Reid started in right field for the Gators as the first rookie outfielder in game one since Josh Adams played in center field in 2008. A freshman has now been in the starting lineup on Opening Night during all six years of O’Sullivan’s tenure.
The Gators have taken six of the past 10 meetings against the Knights and ended a two-game slide with an 8-0 shutout on Feb. 22, 2012, at McKethan Stadium. O’Sullivan is 4-2 (.667) against UCF, 3-1 (.750) in Gainesville and 1-1 (.500) in Orlando. Florida holds a 21-15 advantage in the series all-time.
In the last meeting with the Knights, Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) held No. 19 UCF hitless for 4.1 innings in his collegiate starting debut and Tucker tied the school’s career RBI record as the No. 1 Gators had four pitchers combine on a six-hit, 8-0 victory on Feb. 22 last season at McKethan Stadium. UF’s first shutout of the season marked the first time that it held the Knights scoreless since a 10-0 win on April 12, 1977, and for only the second time in school history.
After pitching 3.2 innings as a freshman, Crawford limited the Knights to a pair of singles over five shutout innings. He was followed to the mound by Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) (2.0 IP, 1 H), Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) (1.0 IP, 1 H) and Harris (1.0 IP, 2 H). Six of the Gators’ 10 hits went for extra bases, including a homer and double by both Daniel Pigott (2-for-3, two runs) and Tucker (2-for-4, two runs) and a pair of two-baggers by Mike Zunino (3-for-4, two runs).
In the teams’ last meeting at Jay Bergman Field, UCF plated seven of its eight runs with two down in an 8-6 victory over No. 5 Florida in front of a record crowd of 3,601 fans on April 20, 2011. Chris Taladay (2-for-5) and Derek Luciano (2-for-4) each drove in three runs and the Knights withstood a six-run rally in the eighth by the Gators that featured a grand slam by Tucker to take both meetings between the squads that season.