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Thursday March 21, 2013Florida Baseball Heads To Music City To Face No. 2 Vanderbilt

Gainesville, Fla.

Following a season-high, nine-game stretch at McKethan Stadium, Florida (10-12/1-2 SEC) takes its first road trip of the season to No. 2 Vanderbilt (19-3/3-0 SEC). On the opening weekend of SEC play, the Gators fell twice to No. 10 Kentucky at home, while the Commodores swept three games at Auburn. Vanderbilt and Texas A&M were the only league schools to claim all three outings last weekend, as the Aggies downed Georgia in College Station in their conference debut.


Friday’s opener between the Gators and Commodores will be carried on Sun Sports at 7:30 p.m. ET, Channel 48 and Channel 1048 (HD) in Gainesville, with Nick Belmonte and Larry Vettel. Richard Cross and Rusty Ensor will broadcast Saturday’s game at 7 p.m. ET for CSS, which will be carried in Gainesville on Cox Sports, Channel 259 or 1259 (HD). Sunday’s finale will be at 1 p.m. ET.


Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell will call the action for the Gator IMG Sports Network this weekend. Live audio and stats will be available on 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, 1.90) will make his second Friday night start in a row to begin the series and face Commodore junior left-hander Kevin Ziomek (5-0, 0.92). Carmichael gave up three hits and one run to Kentucky over a career-high 5.2 innings and was not involved in the decision.


Junior righty Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) (0-3, 4.94) is set to go on Saturday night for the Orange and Blue against Vanderbilt sophomore righty Tyler Beede (5-0, 0.84). In his lone career appearance against Vanderbilt, Crawford threw five scoreless innings in the teams’ regular-season finale on March 18 last year, an outing in which he totaled six strikeouts, with three hits and two walks, and earned the win.


Sophomore southpaw Philip Pfeifer (2-0, 2.01) will start for VU on Sunday afternoon against a Gator pitcher to be announced.


Quick Hits About the Gators

·         Florida will be playing its first series on the road this year, as 20 of its 22 games have been in the friendly confines of McKethan Stadium.

·         The Gators are 2-0 away from Gainesville after defeating UCF (5-3 on Feb. 19) and Jacksonville (8-5 on March 5).

·         UF was 9-6 (.600) on the road in SEC play last year and claimed four out of five series, posting 2-1 decisions over No. 6 South Carolina (L, W, W), Tennessee (W, L, W), No. 3 Kentucky (W, W, L) and Auburn (W, W, L). Florida lost twice at No. 16 Ole Miss (L, W, L).

·         Freshman OF Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) enters the weekend on a six-game hitting streak in which he is 10-for-24 (.417) with four RBI and four runs. He has 11 starts in center field and nine starts in left field and has occupied the No. 2 spot in the Gators’ batting order for the last 10 games (14-for-40 for a .350 clip).

·         With a career-long 5.2-inning stint, freshman RHP Tucker Simpson (Oxford, Ala.) (1-1, 4.91) picked up his first collegiate win on Tuesday against North Florida. It marked the first time this season that a Gator starter had posted a victory.

·         Sophomore RHP Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.) (2-0, 2.79) collected his fourth save in five chances last Friday with a scoreless ninth. He has registered 16 strikeouts without yielding any walks in 19.1 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.

·         Sophomore RHP Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) (3-1, 3.57) has made a team-high 13 relief appearances and has recorded 10 K and four BB in 22.2 innings.

·         The Gators are 6-5 (.545) when scoring first and 4-7 (.364) when their opponent scores first. Seven of UF’s 10 wins this season have come when it has scored in the opening stanza.


Series Nuggets

Florida leads the all-time series, 128-65-1, including 51-38-1 in Nashville. Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is 15-7 (.682) against Vanderbilt, 8-1 (.889) in Gainesville, 3-3 (.500) in Nashville, 2-3 (.400) at the SEC Tourney and 2-0 at the NCAA Tourney (both at the College World Series). O’Sullivan and Vanderbilt skipper Tim Corbin served together on Jack Leggett’s staff at Clemson. Corbin was with the Tigers between 1994-2002, while O’Sullivan was at the ACC school from 1999-2007 before coming to Gainesville.


UF and Vanderbilt squared off five times last year, with the Gators sweeping the regular-season series at McKethan Stadium and the Commodores winning twice at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., en route to a runner-up finish to Mississippi State.


With Vanderbilt ranked second this week, the Gators are 2-4 (.333) under O’Sullivan against No. 2 teams. UF is 23-19 (.548) overall and 8-6 (.571) versus top-five squads on the road in his tenure.


Florida is 2-3 (.400) in its weekend series this season, posting wins over Duke (2-1) and No. 21 Miami (2-1), and suffering defeats to FGCU (3-0), Indiana (2-1) and No. 10 Kentucky (2-1). Vanderbilt is perfect in its five weekend sets, handling Long Beach State (2-1), Monmouth (3-0), Illinois-Chicago (3-0), No. 15 Oregon (2-1) and Auburn (3-0).


2012 Regular-Season Recap

Florida opened league action last March by sweeping Vanderbilt for the first time since 2008 by scores of 10-2, 5-1 and 8-2 to increase its winning streak to a school-record 17 games. It marked the fourth time in five seasons that the Gators had started SEC play 3-0 under O’Sullivan.


Florida batted .284 (25-for-88) in the series, registered a 1.67 ERA, held a 23-5 scoring advantage and did not commit any errors. Preston Tucker went 4-for-11 (.364) with six RBI, four runs, two homers and a couple of walks, while Daniel Pigott was 4-for-13 (.308), had four RBI and scored four runs.


UF’s trio of starting pitchers, RHP Hudson Randall, LHP Brian Johnson and Crawford, each picked up victories and combined for 21 strikeouts and three walks in 17.2 innings, while limiting the Commodores to two runs for a 1.02 ERA. Crawford tossed five shutout frames in his SEC debut and UF matched its season high with three home runs in an 8-2 win on Sunday afternoon. Crawford was supported by a UF offense that produced solo homers from Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) in the second inning, Tucker as part of a three-run third inning and Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) in the fifth frame.


Johnson allowed two singles over six shutout innings and matched his career high of nine strikeouts to lead the Gators to a 5-1 win on Saturday. UF’s victory secured their third-straight regular-season series triumph over the Commodores. Holding a 1-0 lead in the fifth, the Gators used a two-run single by Pigott and a two-run homer by Tucker to seize control of the contest.


On Friday, Florida used a five-run fifth inning and added four more runs in the seventh en route to a 10-2 victory over Vanderbilt in the SEC opener. Randall allowed two runs and matched his season high of six strikeouts over 6.2 innings for the victory, Tucker (2-for-5) tallied three RBI and Pigott was 3-for-5 and scored twice as the hosts scored 10 unanswered runs. Three Gator relievers, Steven Rodriguez, Corey Stump (Lakeland, Fla.) and Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.), combined to toss 2.1 scoreless innings.


Florida’s Most Recent Trip To Nashville

UF split the first two games with Vanderbilt on May 13-14, 2011, taking the opener, 6-5, before suffering a 14-1 setback in game two. The Gators and Commodores battled into the 12th inning of the finale before UF prevailed, 6-3, to capture the series and forge a three-way tie on top of the SEC standings heading into the final series of the regular season. Nolan Fontana led the team with a .455 (5-for-11) average in Nashville but the squad was held to a .200 clip. Six of Florida’s 21 hits in the series were homers, including a pair by Mike Zunino in Sunday’s finale.


Zunino delivered a three-run homer in the 12th to lift the Gators over Vanderbilt, 6-3, to take the rubber game of the series. Tommy Toledo struck out three batters over two scoreless innings to earn the win and wiggled out of a jam in the 11th when the Commodores had the potential winning run on third base with one down. UF’s five relievers tossed 7.2 innings of scoreless ball and gave up just three hits.


Vanderbilt had evened the series on Saturday by reeling off 14 unanswered runs after Bryson Smith had started the third inning with his second homer. The Commodores banged out 18 hits and relied on the pitching of Grayson Garvin for the win.


Josh Adams cranked a game-tying homer to begin the ninth and Bryson Smith snapped a 0-for-16 drought with an RBI double as Florida edged Vanderbilt, 6-5, in the completion of Friday night’s suspended contest at Hawkins Field on Saturday.


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