SIX BITS: Baseball wins, Baker OK, seven Gators qualify, tennis updates, lacrosse rookie of year

1 » Faced with elimination, top-seeded No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (41-4) rode past the No. 12 Arkansas Razorbacks (40-18) 5-4 in the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday at Regions Park in Hoover, AL. Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis (9-2) picked up the win, tossing 6.2 innings, striking out five and giving up three earned runs. Junior closer Kevin Chapman earned his 11th save of the season, though he did give up a run in the ninth and final inning of the game. Freshman third baseman Austin Maddox (2-4) led the way with two RBI, and freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-3) scored two runs. Florida will face Vanderbilt (41-16) in the second elimination game of the tournament Friday evening, airing live at ESPN3.com.

2 » Still making touchdowns – but now for the Jacksonville Sharks of the AFL – former Gators wide receiver Dallas Baker was faced with an injury scare Saturday night in a 46-44 win over the Cleveland Gladiators. “I thought I tore something,” Baker told The Florida Times-Union. Instead Baker, who scored twice during the game before falling to the turf, suffered a sprain according to an MRI exam after the game. He is second on the team this season with 416 yards and nine touchdowns in five games played.

Four more BITS on track & field qualifiers, tennis’ NCAA wins and losses and a Gator winning Rookie of the Year…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Baseball wins, Baker OK, seven Gators qualify, tennis updates, lacrosse rookie of year

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FOUR BITS: Baseball falls; two tennis Ws, one L

1 » Coming into the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament on a high after winning the SEC regular season title, No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (40-14) was brought down a notch with a 10-6 loss to the defending national champion LSU Tigers in first-round action at Regions Park in Hoover, AL. LSU starter Anthony Ranaudo (4-2) gave up five earned runs in 7.2 innings but still outdueled Florida freshman Brian Johnson (5-4) who was lit up for seven earned runs in just 3.2 innings. Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (2-5) led the way for the Gators with three RBI and a home run, but his efforts were not enough to stop the Tigers’ offensive onslaught. The loss marked only the second time all season Florida fell in back-to-back games; it did not remove them from the tournament, which is double-elimination. The Gators will compete Thursday in an elimination game that will air live on CSS and online at ESPN3.com.

2 » Though the Florida men’s tennis team was ousted early in the 2010 NCAA National Championship, individual players are still competing for singles and doubles titles. On Wednesday, No. 8-seed junior Alexandre Lacroix won his first-round match in straight sets (6-1, 6-1) over No. 104-ranked Charles Bottoni of East Tennessee State at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA. Lacroix will move on to face No. 32-seed Bassm Beidas of Pepperdine on Thursday. He will actually participate in two matches Thursday, also teaming with senior Antoine Benneteau in doubles competition.

3 » Members of the National Championship runner-up Gators women’s tennis team were not afforded much rest as two were already back in action Wednesday. No. 7-seed freshman Allie Will (47-4) won her first-round singles match against Washington State’s Liudmila Vassilieva easily (6-1, 6-1), advancing to the second round on Thursday.

4 » On the other hand, Will’s classmate Lauren Embree (32-6), who led Florida on Tuesday, surprisingly fell in her singles match. She lost 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 to California’s Mari Anderson and was bounced from the tournament. Both women will compete alongside seniors Marrit Boonstra and Anastasia Revzina in doubles action Thursday.

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TWO BITS: Softball wins, m-tennis falls in NCAAs

1 » Though they had to suffer through a two-hour rain delay, Gainesville Regional hosts No. 4 Florida Gators softball (44-8) defeated the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (32-23) 6-0 in the first game of the 2010 NCAA Tournament on Friday night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Junior starter Stephanie Brombacher (30-6) rang up 11 opposing hitters over seven innings to earn her 30th win in a complete game effort. In support, junior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (1-3) tallied three RBI and junior outfielder Kelsey Bruder (2-3) nailed her 12th home run of the season (and the team’s 97th) in the second inning. The Gators will face Central Florida (which defeated Florida International 7-1 on Friday) in the first game of the day on Saturday.

2 » On the opposite end of the spectrum is No. 6 Florida men’s tennis (21-5), which ended their season Friday with a 4-2 upset loss to the No. 12 Georgia Bulldogs (20-8) in the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA. The No. 8 doubles pair of redshirt senior Antoine Benneteau and junior Alexandre Lacroix, which led the Gators all season, fell 8-3; each player also lost their singles matches. In fact, none of Florida’s ranked players or pairs were victorious Friday. Benneteau and Lacroix will continue competing in NCAA individual tournaments where they will participate without being tied to a team result.

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FOUR BITS: Baseball sweeps Georgia, tennis advances to Round of 16, softball hosts regional

1 » With two games in hand, No. 4/5 Florida Gators baseball (37-12, 20-7 SEC) swept their series against the Georgia Bulldogs with a 9-3 win Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Freshman starting pitcher Brian Johnson (5-2) tossed 5.2 strong innings, striking out three while only giving up one earned run. Sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (1-3) and junior designated hitter Bryson Smith (2-3) each tallied two RBI, while freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-4) and junior second baseman Josh Adams (1-3) both crossed home plate twice. Florida has now won eight consecutive contests over Georgia; the three-day total attendance of 14,619 set an all-time weekend series Gators record. UF will face North Florida on Tuesday before traveling to Columbia, SC, for a season-defining three-game series against the No. 8/12 South Carolina Gamecocks (41-11, 20-7 SEC). The Gators and Gamecocks are tied atop the Southeastern Conference regular season standings.

Three more BITS on women’s and men’s tennis advancing in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and softball’s honors and hosting duties…after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Baseball sweeps Georgia, tennis advances to Round of 16, softball hosts regional

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FOUR BITS: Baseball’s wins, tennis, Horn, Proctor

1 » No. 4/5 Florida Gators baseball (36-12, 19-7 SEC) took a pair of 4-3 victories from the Georgia Bulldogs (14-35, 3-21 SEC) over the weekend in their final home series at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL for the 2010 season. Friday night, freshman catcher Mike Zunino won the game for the Gators with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning. Sophomore Alex Panteliodis earned the start but was pulled after giving up three earned run in five innings; classmate Greg Larson (3-1) came on to finish out the game, shutting the Bulldogs out the rest of the way while striking out three. Freshman designated hitter Brian Johnson (2-4) pulled in an RBI to go along with the two Zunino added over the course of the evening.

2 » Looking to capitalize Saturday, Florida won in similar fashion. Sophomore catcher Ben McMahan led off the bottom of the ninth with a solo homer to break the 3-3 tie and help his team edge Georgia. Sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (2-4, one run) and senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (1-4, two runs, RBI) led the way for the Gators offensively, with junior Kevin Chapman (3-0) picking up the relief win in 1.2 innings of work. Freshman Hudson Randall started the game, tossing 5.2 solid innings with five strikeouts and two earned runs.

Florida is tied with South Carolina atop the Southeastern Conference standings but has two more games to play (Sun. vs. Georgia, Tues. vs. North Florida) before traveling to Columbia, SC, for a three-game SEC-deciding series to close the regular season.

3 » Like it’s women’s counterpart, No. 6 men’s tennis (20-4) – which also holds the sixth seed in the event – swept the South Carolina State Huskies (11-11) 4-0 in first-round action in the 2010 NCAA Tournament at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL, on Saturday. The No. 8 doubles pair of junior Alexandre Lacroix and redshirt senior Antoine Benneteau took their doubles match; No. 7 Lacroix also won his singles contest, as did Benneteau and the rest of UF’s squad. Second-round action continues Sunday.

4 » Gators sophomore decathlete Gray Horn and senior jumper Shara Proctor each defended their titles, taking home the 2010 SEC Outdoor Championships in the decathalon and long jump, respectively. Competing at Tom Black Track in Knoxville, TN, Horn turned in a career-high 7,652 – the second-best decathalon score in UF history. He is the ninth person in conference history to win the title back-to-back and first since 1974. Horn is also the only Florida track & field athlete to win an SEC decathalon title. Similarly, Proctor won her second-straight title on the same track and became just the sixth multiple winner of the event with a victorious jump of 6.69m/21-11.50 (+1.4) – the best of her college career.

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FOUR BITS: Dunlap, Tyus & Donovan, Pierre-Louis

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap has decided to make it his mission to silence his doubters and do whatever it takes to help his new team, the Cincinnati Bengals, improve on defense this year. “My plan is to help contribute in the pass-rushing game,” Dunlap told the Dayton Daily News. “That’s one of the things I heard coach [Marvin Lewis] say the team lacked last year. Although I feel rushing the passer is one of the things I do well, it’s certainly not my best attribute. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get on the field and help the team win games. […] I want to go after defensive rookie of the year honors. People’s negative comments help motivate me. They say I should have been a first-rounder but I’m not. So all I can do now is make everyone who passed on me pay.”

2 » Though Dunlap is confident in what he can do this year, his team’s owner, Mike Brown, may see his selection with the No. 54 overall pick in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft as just another risky decision by Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. As Cincinnati was in the process cleaning up its image as a franchise accepting of bad behavior, they have recently signed or drafted players charged with drug possession (wide receiver Matt Jones), DUI (Dunlap and WR Chris Davis) and numerous arrests (defensive back Adam “Pacman” Jones). How Dunlap turns out – and whether or not he gets into further trouble – could be a strong indictment on Lewis’ job security.

3 » Florida junior forward Alex Tyus, who has kept relatively quiet throughout the entire process of deciding to return to school, has accepted that he will not start at small forward for the Gators, according to his fiancée Alli Cecchini. “He understands Chandler [Parsons] has won that position,” she told the Orlando Sentinel. “He hasn’t proven himself to be a 3 here. His chance to show he can play the 3 is at the professional level, but for now he respects where the team is coming from.” Cecchini also said that, contrary to what some may believe, Tyus remains close with head coach Billy Donovan. “We have a great relationship with Donovan, we talk to him all the time,” she added. “It’s not like a strained relationship at all.”

4 » Though some are discounting any chance he might have in making a team, former Gators cornerback Wondy Pierre-Louis has already worked out for his second in a week, visiting the Baltimore Ravens after being dismissed by the New York Giants a few days ago. Pro Football Talk reports that Pierre-Louis “will be sent packing by the Ravens,” but The News-Press believes Baltimore has legitimate interest in him for a special teams position. “It’s not really that much different [than college],” Pierre-Louis said. “It’s a little bit faster because everybody knows what to do and where to go.”

Extra Bit » Florida junior Alexandre Lacroix and redshirt senior Antoine Benneteau have each been named to the 2010 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division I Men’s All-American Team, according to a release from the University of Florida. Lacroix, who posted a 32-9 record this season as a singles competitor, earned recognition in both categories (singles and doubles); Benneteau, however, only earned the doubles honor (Lacroix is his teammate and the duo holds a 17-5 record).

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SIX BITS: Gators weekend wrap-up 4/9 – 4/11

Florida Gators athletics took home two titles and 10 overall victories this past weekend from Fri., April 9 to Sun., April 11. Get all the details…after the break!

1 » GYMNASTICS: No. 4 Florida Gators gymnastics captured the 2010 NCAA North Central Regional Championship.
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Gators weekend wrap-up 4/9 – 4/11

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FOUR BITS: McNabb, baseball, softball, tennis

1 » Sunday night, the Philadelphia Eagles traded star quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins for two draft picks. Monday, Florida Gators fans are trying to connect the dots to Tim Tebow and the 2010 NFL Draft. Here is what you need to know: (a) The Redskins acquiring McNabb makes it unlikely they draft Tebow, even after paying him plenty of attention. (b) The Eagles, with two QBs on one-year deals, are more likely to consider Tebow or any available passer for that matter – but not likely until the second round. (c) Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen may fall in the first round, potentially pushing Texas’ Colt McCoy and Tebow into later draft selections.

2 » Looking to salvage a road season in which they already lost the first two games, No. 20/17 Vanderbilt Commodores baseball (24-6, 5-4 SEC) shutout the No. 8/11 Gators (20-7, 5-3 SEC) 7-0 on Sunday in the series finale at McKethan Stadium. Starter Jack Armstrong (4-0) tossed six innings of four-hit ball for Vanderbilt, which also benefited from a pair of solo home runs by third baseman Jason Esposito (2-5, three runs). Freshman Hudson Randal (2-3) earned the loss for Florida, giving up two earned runs and seven hits in 5.2 innings with six strikeouts.

Two more BITS on Gators softball and tennis’ weekend sweeps…after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: McNabb, baseball, softball, tennis

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