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Thursday April 4, 2013Florida Baseball Travels To Magnolia State For Weekend Set At No. 17 Mississippi State

Gainesville, Fla.

Florida (14-16/4-5 SEC) hits the road for its second of five SEC series away from Gainesville when it visits No. 17 Mississippi State (24-8/3-6 SEC) for three games starting on Friday night at Dudy Noble Field. Game times this weekend are at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, 4 p.m. ET on Saturday and 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

 

Both the series opener and finale between the Gators and Bulldogs will be carried live on GatorVision. Bernie Guenther and Ronnie Rantz will broadcast Saturday’s game at for CSS, which will be carried on Cox Sports Channel 259 and Channel 1259 HD in Gainesville. Adam Schick and Bob White will call the action for the Gator IMG Sports Network this weekend, 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.

 

On Tuesday night, Florida scored twice in the seventh inning to overcome a 3-2 deficit and added an insurance run in the eighth in a 5-3 victory over UCF at McKethan Stadium to raise its winning streak to three games. Meanwhile, Mississippi State snapped a 4-4 tie with two runs in the ninth to grab a 6-4 road win at South Alabama.

 

In SEC play, UF fell to No. 10 Kentucky twice on the opening league weekend at McKethan Stadium and then was on the short end of a 2-1 series at No. 2 Vanderbilt before taking two of three games from No. 11 Ole Miss. MSU is seeking its first series triumph in league play after being defeated by No. 2 LSU at home (L, L, W), No. 8 Kentucky in Lexington (W, L, L) and No. 11 Arkansas in Fayetteville (L, W, L).

 

Junior right-hander Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) (1-4, 4.46), the most recent SEC Pitcher of the Week, will begin the series against Bulldog senior left-hander Luis Pollorena (4-1, 3.34). Crawford fired a two-hit shutout to down No. 11 Ole Miss last Saturday, with a season-high eight strikeouts and two walks. The righty has registered a team-high 34 strikeouts in 42.1 innings of work and has worked at least six innings in his last five starts.

 

Freshman southpaw Danny Young (Boca Raton, Fla.) (1-2, 3.12) will make his first road start on Saturday afternoon against MSU senior righty Kendall Graveman (3-2, 2.43). Young collected his first win in his SEC starting debut last Sunday, when he limited Ole Miss to one hit in 5.1 scoreless innings.

 

Neither the Gators or Bulldogs have announced a starter for Sunday’s matchup yet.

 

Quick Hits About the Gators

·         Florida came from behind on Tuesday night to defeat UCF, 5-3, to sweep the teams’ two-game season series.

·         The Gators’ longest winning streak of the season, a four-game stretch from March 2-8, featured two wins apiece over No. 21 Miami (FL) and Jacksonville. 

·         Florida has played the toughest schedule to date in the nation, as its opponents have a combined record of 562-209 (.729).

·         UF will be playing its fourth SEC series and the previous three have come down to a decisive third game (1-2 record).

·         All nine league contests the Gators have played so far have been against ranked teams: No. 10 Kentucky (1-2), at No. 2 Vanderbilt (1-2) and No. 11 Ole Miss (2-1).

·         Florida is 6-8 (.429) versus top-25 opponents this season and is 89-71 (.556) in Kevin O’Sullivan’s six-year tenure. UF is 1-2 (.333) away from Gainesville in road games against ranked foes in 2013 and is 31-29 (.517) under O’Sullivan.

·         Sophomore C Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) (.276) enters the weekend on a career-high six-game hitting streak in which he is 7-for-20 (.350) with six runs, three RBI and two doubles.

·         Senior 1B Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) (.294) was a team-high 5-for-12 (.417) over the three games with Ole Miss, including a two-run homer on Sunday.

·         Sophomore OF Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) (.325) leads the SEC with 12 doubles and is coming off of a 5-for-13 (.385) weekend in which he scored a team-high four runs.

·         The Gator pitching staff compiled an ERA of 0.93 in the series with the Rebels, highlighted by consecutive shutouts on Saturday and Sunday for the first time since March 10 & 12, 2010. Ole Miss batted just .140 (13-for-93) and was out-scored by the Gators, 14-4.

·         Crawford became the first Gator hurler to be named the SEC Pitcher of the Week since Hudson Randall in 2011 by tossing a two-hit shutout last Saturday. He started game two with MSU last May (loss - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 K, 2 BB).

·         Sophomore RHP Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.) (2-1, 1.78) worked 3.2 scoreless innings in the finale with the Rebels to secure the save and then had a perfect ninth to preserve Tuesday’s win over UCF for his sixth save in seven opportunities.

·         The Gators are 7-7 (.500) when playing error-free baseball this year, including the last two outings, and sport an 8-3 (.727) mark when scoring in the first inning.

·         UF is 26-of-40 (.650) on the basepaths this spring, led by five thefts by freshman OF Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) (.275) and three by five different players.         

 

Series Nuggets

O’Sullivan is 10-3 (.769) against Mississippi State, 7-2 (.778) in Gainesville, 2-1 (.667) in Starkville and 1-0 (1.000) at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala.

 

The Gators have taken eight of their last 11 regular-season series versus the Bulldogs since 2000. Florida enjoyed a run of five-consecutive triumphs from 2001-05, MSU posted a pair of 2-1 decisions in 2006 & 2007 and the Gators have won the last three with a sweep in 2010 and 2-1 victories the last two seasons.

 

The teams have met seven times since the most recent encounter in Starkville on April 10, 2011. UF posted a 7-5 victory at the SEC Tourney on May 25, 2011, emerged on top in a classic NCAA Gainesville Super Regional from June 10-12, 2011, and claimed two of the three meetings between May 11-13, 2012, at McKethan Stadium. 

 

2012 Series Recap

Florida captured two out of three games over No. 25 Mississippi State at McKethan Stadium from May 11-13, 2012. In a tightly-contested series, UF’s pitching staff was brilliant against the Bulldogs, allowing four runs over 27 innings for a 1.33 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .167 batting average. The team’s bullpen allowed zero runs over 12.2 innings and registered 15 strikeouts, including seven by Steven Rodriguez.

 

Mike Zunino belted a solo homer in the eighth inning to lift UF to a 2-1 series-clinching victory on Sunday afternoon. Zunino’s team-leading 13th homer came with one down to move the Gators in front and Austin Maddox completed a perfect outing by setting down the Bulldogs 1-2-3 in the ninth. Rodriguez produced two scoreless and hitless frames and tallied three strikeouts. UF’s pitching corps totaled 10 strikeouts and limited MSU to three hits, a season-low surrendered by the Orange and Blue’s pitching staff.

 

Graveman and Jonathan Holder combined on a three-hit shutout as the Bulldogs evened the weekend series with a 2-0 win on Saturday night. Graveman limited the Gators to three singles over 7.2 innings to earn the victory, while Holder set down all four hitters he faced to register the save.

 

Randall claimed his third-straight start in the series opener by limiting the Bulldogs to one run and five hits over seven innings, his longest SEC start of the campaign to that point. Rodriguez hurled a pair of scoreless innings and registered four strikeouts to collect his third save as UF handed Bulldog Chris Stratton his first loss since May 21, 2011, against LSU. Daniel Pigott broke open a 2-1 game with a two-run homer in the eighth, his seventh round-tripper of the campaign and sixth in league action.

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