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Friday May 10, 2013Florida Baseball Hosts Auburn In Weekend Series To Wrap Up Home Schedule

Gainesville, Fla.

After a pair of midweek victories in which it outscored its opponents by a combined total of 29-2, Florida (27-23/12-12 SEC) welcomes Auburn (29-19/9-15 SEC) to McKethan Stadium for its ninth of 10 SEC series. The Tigers are riding a four-game winning streak after taking the final two games from No. 18 Ole Miss and posting wins over Jacksonville State (12-8) and Samford (9-3). Game times this weekend are at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

 

All three games between the Gators and Tigers will be available on GatorVision, while Jeff Cardozo and Mick Hubert 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 on @GatorZoneBB, the official Twitter account of the Gator baseball program.

 

Junior right-hander Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) (3-5, 4.00) will oppose Tiger junior left-hander Conner Kendrick (3-3, 2.34) in the series opener. Crawford leads UF with 56 strikeouts in 69.2 innings and all three of his victories this season have come against league foes (No. 11 Ole Miss, No. 8 South Carolina and Missouri).

 

Sophomore catcher Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) occupies the top spot on the squad with a .306 batting average and 32 RBI, while sophomore outfielder Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) (.303) leads the SEC with 17 doubles and has tallied 22 RBI, freshman outfielder Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) is hitting .301 with 22 runs and seven stolen bases, freshman outfielder Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) is at .297 with 32 runs, 19 RBI and a team-leading 11 stolen bases in 16 attempts. Sophomore second baseman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (.288) is the Gators’ leader in runs (40) and walks (25). As a team, Florida is hitting .275, has an ERA of 3.84 and sports a .975 fielding percentage.

 

With a 12-12 (.500) league record, UF fell to No. 10 Kentucky twice on the opening SEC weekend at McKethan Stadium, was on the short end of a 2-1 series at No. 2 Vanderbilt, took two of three games from No. 11 Ole Miss, dropped a pair of outings at No. 17 Mississippi State, swept No. 8 South Carolina, won two at Missouri, defeated Tennessee twice and was swept at No. 3 LSU.

 

Auburn is 9-15 (.375) and has captured three of its eight series in conference action. The Tigers kicked off SEC play by falling three times to No. 2 Vanderbilt, got swept at No. 3 LSU, dropped a pair at Alabama (L, W, L), took two at No. 18 Texas A&M (W, W, L), claimed two over Georgia (W, W, L), fell twice at No. 10 Mississippi State (W, L, L), lost a pair at Missouri (W, L, L) and captured two at home versus No. 18 Ole Miss (L, W, W) last weekend.

 

Quick Hits About the Gators

·         Florida is 4-4 (.500) in its SEC series this spring and had claimed three-straight series - 3-0 sweep of No. 8 South Carolina and 2-1 triumphs over Missouri and Tennessee - before dropping all three outings at No. 3 LSU last weekend.

·         Since a 4-3 defeat in 11 innings to No. 11 Ole Miss on March 29 that dropped their record to 11-16 (.407), the Gators have gone 16-7 (.696) to be four games above the .500 plateau at 27-23 (.540).

·         This weekend’s set will mark just the second time during Kevin O’Sullivan’s tenure that Auburn will be visiting McKethan Stadium, first since 2008.

·         O’Sullivan collected the 250th win of his head coaching career with a 7-1 triumph over Florida Atlantic on Tuesday night.

·         In the victories over Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic, the Gator pitching staff yielded just four hits and two runs over 18 innings, with 16 strikeouts, two walks and an opponent batting average of .071 (4-for-56).

·         The Gators will honor their two seniors, Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) and Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.), in a pregame ceremony prior to Friday’s series opener.

·         UF finished 15-11 (.577) in non-league games and is an even 12-12 (.500) in SEC play this spring.

·         The Gators are 19-14 (.576) on their own turf in 2013 and have claimed 11 of their last 12 games in Gainesville.

·         Shafer, who leads the SEC with 17 doubles, has a team-high 16 multiple-hit games and matched the Gators’ single-game high this year with a career-high eight strikeouts over six innings on Monday night versus FAMU for his first collegiate win.

·         Named to the NCBWA Mid-Season Stopper of the Year Watch List, sophomore RHP Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.) (4-1, 1.93) has collected saves in six of his last nine appearances. His total of 11 saves is two shy of the school record shared by Danny Wheeler (1994) & Josh Fogg (1998).

·         Gushue (.306) is hitting .395 (15-for-38) in his last 10 games and ranks second on the squad with a .319 clip in SEC play.

·         UF has played the toughest schedule to date in the nation, as its opponents have a combined record of 1,445-791 (.646) entering Thursday.

·         Crawford started the SEC Tournament opener against Auburn last May and limited the Tigers to one run and two hits over 5.2 innings, while registering a career-high nine strikeouts.

·         Half of UF’s 50 games this spring have come against ranked teams and the Gators’ 12 victories over top-25 squads is the highest total in the league.

·         Since freshman Richie Martin (.301) returned to the lineup as a position player in CF for the final game of the series at No. 17 Miss. State, UF is 13-5 (.722). He started the year at shortstop, suffered a broken finger on March 3 against No. 21 Miami (FL) and missed 14 games.

 

Series Nuggets

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is 8-2 (.800) against Auburn, 3-0 (1.000) in Gainesville, 4-2 (.667) at Plainsman Park and 1-0 (1.000) at the SEC Tournament.

 

The teams have not met at McKethan Stadium since the Gators swept a three-game series over the weekend of March 14-16, 2008, to begin SEC play in O’Sullivan’s initial season.

 

2012 Regular-Season Series Recap

On the final weekend of the regular season on the Plains, the Gators cruised to wins in the first two games against Auburn by scores of 6-0 and 10-1 before their bid for a share of a third-consecutive SEC title was dashed with a 5-4 setback in the finale.

 

UF’s offense batted .321 (34-for-106) over the three games, with a 20-6 scoring advantage, and the team totaled seven doubles, four homers and a pair of triples. Its pitching staff limited the SEC’s top hitting club to a .151 (14-for-93) performance and compiled a 1.38 ERA.

 

Preston Tucker became the school’s all-time leader in hits with a two-run homer in the opener to surpass Mark Ellis’ previous standard of 319 hits. Tucker was 8-for-14 (.571) over the three matchups with the Tigers and half of his hits went for extra bases courtesy of two doubles and two homers. Mike Zunino went 4-for-10 (.400) with a pair of doubles and a homer, while Nolan Fontana was 5-for-13 (.385).

 

Auburn right fielder Creede Simpson threw out Tucker at the plate to complete a game-ending double play as the Tigers notched a 5-4 victory on Saturday. With the Gators down to their final three outs, Tucker (2-for-5) delivered a base-hit into right field with one down. Zunino followed with a double that grazed the wall in left field, his school-record 24th of the campaign. With a pair of runners in scoring position, Brian Johnson lofted what Florida hoped would be a game-tying sacrifice fly into right field. However, Simpson snared the ball for the second out and fired a bullet to the plate, where Caleb Bowen applied the tag to a sliding Tucker to end the contest.

 

A 12-hit, three-homer offensive attack and the dominant pitching of Johnson powered UF to a series-clinching 10-1 victory on Friday. Johnson matched his season and career high with a seven-inning stint in which he allowed just two singles and an unearned run, with seven strikeouts and two walks. Ramjit clubbed a three-run homer as part of a four-run first inning, Tucker went 3-for-5 with a two-run dinger in the sixth, and Zunino had a solo shot to start the third.

 

Hudson Randall allowed three singles for his third career complete game as Florida captured the opening game of the series with a 6-0 shutout on Thursday night. It marked the first time that the Tigers had been held scoreless last season.

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