Thursday February 13, 2014No. 20 Florida Baseball Hosts Maryland To Begin Centennial Season
Kevin O’Sullivan begins his seventh season at the helm this weekend as No. 20 Florida opens its 2014 campaign by hosting Maryland of the Atlantic Coast Conference in a weekend series. The Gators will be starting their 56-game regular season at McKethan Stadium for the 14th-consecutive season and the 26th time in 28 years. This will be the 100th season of baseball at the University of Florida. Game times this weekend are at 7 p.m. on Friday, 4 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. on Sunday.
All three games of the weekend series will be available on GatorVision through GatorZone.com and on the Gator IMG Sports Network. Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell will call this weekend’s action. In addition, the season opener will be carried on Fox Sports Florida with Nick Belmonte and Larry Vettel. Live stats for each game 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.
QUICK HITS ABOUT THE GATORS
· Florida returns 18 letterwinners from last year’s squad, including seven starters - C Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.), 1B Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.), 2B Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.), SS Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.), 3B Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.), OF Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) and OF Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.). Of the club’s 17 newcomers, 15 are freshmen and two are junior college transfers (INF Jason Lombardozzi (Chambersburg, Pa.) from the College of Central Florida and C Braden Mattson (San Antonio, Texas) from San Jacinto College).
· From the pitching rotation, RHP Eric Hanhold (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (0-4, 5.88), LHP Bobby Poyner ((Wellington, Fla.) (3-3, 3.41) and LHP Danny Young (Boca Raton, Fla.) (3-4, 4.28) each made 7 starts last season, while RHP Karsten Whitson (Chipley, Fla.) (4-0, 3.51 in 2012) was a medical redshirt last spring but has 29 career starts.
· Florida has made the NCAA Tournament in all six years of Kevin O’Sullivan’s tenure, the first time that the same Gator head coach has taken the team to six Regionals in a row.
· UF’s streak of six-straight NCAA appearances since 2008 ties the longest run in school history, accomplished during the 2000-05 seasons.
· The Gators’ 17 newcomers were the top-ranked recruiting haul according to Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game.
· O’Sullivan welcomed his fifth-consecutive top-8 recruiting class from Collegiate Baseball: 1st in 2009, 5th in 2010, 8th in 2011, 7th in 2012 and 1st in 2013.
· Eight Gator freshmen were drafted last season but elected to move to Gainesville: RHP Brett Morales (Tampa, Fla.) (24th round, Cincinnati), RHP Logan Shore (Coon Rapids, Minn.) (29th round, Minnesota), RHP Dane Dunning (Fleming Island, Fla.) (34th round, Toronto), LHP/1B A.J. Puk (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) (35th round, Detroit), OF Buddy Reed (Finksburg, Md.) (35th round, Texas), LHP Scott Moss (Deltona, Fla.) (38th round, Colorado), INF John Sternagel (Rockledge, Fla.) (39th round, Kansas City) and RHP Shaun Anderson (Coral Springs, Fla.) (40th round, Washington). Anderson was named the 15th “Don’t Count Him Out” player recognized by MLB.com, as he was the last player chosen in the three-day process. It was the second year in a row that a Gator had been chosen with the final pick, as Hanhold earned the honor in 2012.
· Poyner will start the Gators’ lid-lifter with the Terps, becoming the first left-hander to get the nod on Opening Night since Brian Johnson tossed six scoreless innings, yielded two hits and registered six strikeouts to earn a 7-2 victory over USF on Feb. 18, 2011.
· Since O’Sullivan has been in charge, the Gators have lost just four weekend series in Gainesville to non-conference opponents: the 2009 Super Regional to Southern Miss (7-9, 6-7) and regular-season series to Miami (FL) (Feb. 27-March 1, 2009: 5-8, 1-2, 2-16), FGCU (Feb. 22-24, 2013: 2-8, 3-8, 4-7 (11) and Indiana (March 8-10, 2013: 1-4, 6-4, 4-7).
· Florida boasts a 175-50 (.778) mark at McKethan Stadium under O’Sullivan, including a 41-11 (.788) record in three-game series.
· Dating back to 2002, the Gators hold an 11-1 (.917) record in opening weekend series at home. In O’Sullivan’s tenure, Florida have swept Siena (2008), Louisville (2009) and USF (2010 & 2011) and captured two of the meetings with Cal State Fullerton (2012) and Duke (2013).
Friday’s matchup will mark the first between Florida and Maryland since the teams split a two-game series in Gainesville on March 19 & 20, 1978 (UMD, 6-2; UF, 3-2). Jay Bergman guided UF to a 34-15 record and the SEC Eastern Division title that season after an 18-4 league performance.
ACC FLAVOR TO SCHEDULE
Florida will be opening its season against a current member of the ACC for the second year in a row after claiming two of the three meetings with Duke last February. The Gators will travel to Coral Gables next weekend for a series at No. 17 Miami and challenge No. 5 Florida State in Gainesville (March 18), Jacksonville (March 25) and Tallahassee (April 8).
Both single-game and season tickets for the 2014 Gator Baseball season can be purchased online at www.GatorZone.com/tickets or by calling the Gator Ticket Office at 1-800-34-GATOR from 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.