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Thursday March 14, 2013Florida Baseball Starts SEC Play At McKethan Stadium Against No. 10 Kentucky

Gainesville, Fla.

Florida (8-10) begins the 30-game SEC schedule this weekend by welcoming Eastern Division rival No. 10 Kentucky (14-2) to McKethan Stadium for three games. Start times are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, 12 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Gators and Wildcats tied for second in the East last season behind South Carolina (18-11), as each club finished 18-12 (.600) in SEC action.

 

Rusty Ensor and Bernie Guenther will announce Friday’s opener for CSS, which will be carried in Gainesville on Cox Sports, Channel 259 or 1259 (HD). Ensor and Tom Werme will be in the booth on Saturday for SportsSouth, with the contest being shown in Gainesville on Sun Sports, Channel 48 or 1048 (HD). All three contests between the Gators and Wildcats will be available online, with the series opener being carried on ESPN3 and the final two games on GatorVision, while Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell will call the action for the Gator IMG Sports Network. Live audio and 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 program.

 

Freshman right-hander Jay Carmichael (Cape Coral, Fla.) (2-1, 2.00) will make his starting debut in Friday’s opener and will oppose Wildcat sophomore left-hander A.J. Reed (2-1, 3.22). Carmichael has made nine relief appearances in his debut season and has held opponents to a .167 batting average. The righty has totaled 13 strikeouts and permitted four walks in 18 innings of work. He worked a career-high 5.2 innings and earned the victory over Indiana on March 9 after yielding three hits and one run, with four strikeouts and one walk.

 

Junior right-hander Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) (0-2, 4.22) will meet UK senior southpaw Jerad Grundy (3-1, 1.35) on Saturday. In his four starts this season, Crawford has registered a team-leading 17 strikeouts in 21.1 innings. The right-hander had season-highs in innings pitched (6.1) and strikeouts (6) in his last outing versus IU on March 8 but was on the short end of the decision. Crawford’s lone action against Kentucky in his career was in the series finale last May, when he permitted one unearned run over three innings after taking over for starter Brian Johnson in UF’s 2-1 setback.

 

The final game of the series will pit Gator freshman right-hander Eric Hanhold (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (0-1, 6.39) against Kentucky junior lefty Corey Littrell (2-0, 3.42) on Sunday. Hanhold will making his fourth-consecutive Sunday start and has eight K and five BB in 12.2 innings of work. The righty took the loss in the rubber game with Indiana last weekend (4.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 K, 1 BB).

 

With Kentucky ranked 10th this week, the Gators are 16-10 (.615) under Kevin O’Sullivan against top-10 programs at McKethan Stadium. UF is 46-21 (.687) on their home turf in his tenure versus top-25 squads and 2-2 (.500) this season.

 

Florida has come from behind in its last five victories. On March 1, the Gators used a four-run eighth to overcome a 3-2 deficit en route to a 6-4 victory over No. 21 Miami (FL). The next day, UF spotted the Hurricanes a run in the first inning and would score the game’s next six runs, highlighted by a four-run third stanza, to take a 6-3 decision. The Orange and Blue trailed Jacksonville by scores of 3-1 in the fourth and 5-4 in the sixth before tallying the final four runs in an 8-5 triumph on March 5. The following night, the Gators rebounded from being on the short end of a 5-4 score in the eighth and 6-5 in the ninth to edge the Dolphins, 7-6. UF used a pair of three-run innings to turn a 3-0 hole into a 6-4 triumph over Indiana last Saturday.

 

Quick Hits About the Gators

·         After falling to No. 5 Florida State, 4-1 on Tuesday night, Florida has lost two in a row. The Gators and Seminoles will next meet in Jacksonville on March 26 and in Tallahassee on April 9.

·         Six of the Gators’ eight wins this season have been of the come-from-behind variety.

·         Florida is a stellar 161-44 (.785) on its own turf under O’Sullivan, including 4-2 (.667) versus Kentucky in his tenure.

·         The Gators have started SEC action 3-0 four times under O’Sullivan, sweeping Auburn (2008), Mississippi State (2010), LSU (2011) and Vanderbilt (2012). Florida dropped all three games at Arkansas in 2009.

·         This will mark the ninth time that the Gators have started conference play versus the Wildcats, first since 1989 (UF: W, W, L on 3/3-3/4).

·         UF has split four weekend series so far this season, in alternating fashion against Duke (L, W, W), FGCU (L, L, L), No. 21 Miami (FL) (L, W, W) and Indiana (L, W, L).

·         Carmichael (2-1, 2.00) will become the first UF rookie to start an SEC series opener since Hudson Randall at Alabama on May 7, 2010.

·         Saturday’s starter, Crawford (0-2, 4.22), was 3-1 with a 2.56 ERA in nine SEC appearances and eight starts last season.

·         Sophomore 2B Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) batted .636 (7-for-11) against Indiana and is 9-for-22 (.409) in his last six games. He went a career-best 4-for-4 with a season-high three RBI and a career-high two doubles in last Saturday’s 6-4 victory over the Hoosiers.

·         Sophomore RHP Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.) (2-0, 2.60) collected his third save in four chances last Saturday by throwing a perfect ninth. He has registered 15 strikeouts without yielding any walks in 17.1 innings.

·         Freshman SS Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) is sidelined after being injured in the finale with Miami (FL) on March 3. He is riding a 10-game hitting streak in which he is 15-for-42 (.357). Martin has reached base in all 12 games he played this year and is batting .327 overall with seven runs and three stolen bases in three attempts.

·         Florida has used 15 pitchers already this season, almost half of which are freshmen (six true, one redshirt).

·         Sophomore RHP Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) (2-1, 4.12) has made a team-high 11 relief appearances and has recorded 10 K and four BB in 19.2 innings.

·         The Gators are 4-4 (.500) when scoring first and 4-6 (.400) when their opponent scores first.

·         In the most recent SEC statistics, Florida ranks 12th in team batting average (.264), 12th in fielding percentage (.967) and 13th in team earned run average (4.50).

·         The Gators’ first five weekends of conference play are against teams currently ranked in the top 11 within the USA Today/ESPN poll: No. 10 Kentucky (14-2), No. 2 Vanderbilt (16-2), No. 8 Ole Miss (18-1), No. 11 Mississippi State (18-2) and No. 6 South Carolina (15-2) in that order.

 

Series Nuggets

Florida holds a 131-57-1 (.696) advantage in the all-time series, including a 71-23 (.755) edge in Gainesville. O’Sullivan is 9-6 (.600) against Kentucky, 4-2 (.667) in Gainesville and 5-4 (.556) in Lexington.

 

The Gators have captured 10 of their last 12 series against the Wildcats, including three-game sweeps in 2001, 2002, 2004 and

2005. UK’s last three-game sweep of Florida occurred on April 24-25, 1993, in Gainesville (5-3, 7-6, 7-4).

 

Florida has notched 2-1 series triumphs the last four seasons (W, L, W in 2009; W, W, L in 2010; W, L, W in 2011; W, W, L in

2012) since Kentucky emerged victorious in Lexington in 2008 by posting a 3-2 win in 10 innings after the teams split the first two games (11-7 UK, 13-7 UF).

 

2012 Series Recap

The Gators claimed two of three games at No. 3 Kentucky from May 3-5 last season, winning the first two contests by scores of 5-1 and 5-3 before dropping the finale, 2-1. The Gators have defeated the Wildcats in four-straight series, all by 2-1 margins.

 

Florida’s pitching staff compiled a 1.73 ERA in Lexington, surrendering six runs (five earned) over 26 innings, with 15 strikeouts and six walks. Preston Tucker led the team with a .455 clip by going 5-for-11 with three RBI, including a homer in the series opener. Turgeon and Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) were each 4-for-10 (.400) over the meetings with the Wildcats. As a team, the Orange and Blue batted .289 and limited UK to a .247 average.

 

The Gators played error-free baseball in the first two games. Corey Littrell carried a shutout into the ninth inning and closer Trevor Gott stranded the tying run on second base to complete the contest as Kentucky notched a 2-1 victory on Saturday.

 

Florida snapped a 1-1 tie on an RBI single by Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) in the eighth inning and then tacked on three insurance runs in the ninth to post a 5-1 victory on Friday night. Deadlocked at a run apiece entering the eighth, Turgeon (3-for-4) started the frame with a triple to deep right field, his second three-bagger of the year. Tobias sent a 2-2 pitch with one down into right center field to score Turgeon and give Florida the advantage.

 

Florida picked up a 5-3 win on Thursday night in the series opener that was carried on ESPNU. The Gators used a solo homer by Tucker (2-for-4, two RBI) in the first inning and a three-run third frame to stake Randall to a 4-0 lead. The right-hander worked into the seventh inning before Steven Rodriguez hurled 2.1 scoreless innings in which he totaled three strikeouts and allowed two hits to register his first save of the campaign.

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