Florida baseball wins three at LSU for first time

No. 1 Florida Gators baseball (18-2, 3-0 SEC) completed a three-game series sweep of the No. 5 LSU Tigers (16-4, 0-3 SEC) over the weekend on the road in Baton Rouge, LA to mark the first time in school history that feat has been accomplished.

Florida outscored LSU 13-7 during the series, hit three home runs and batted .314 (32-for-102) as a team compared to .260 (27-for-104) for their opponent.

Friday: Down 3-2 headed into the top of the ninth inning, the Gators rallied to score three runs in the frame and eventually held on to defeat the Tigers 5-4. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson got the start for Florida and gave up two earned runs in five hits through 5.1 innings. Junior right-handed pitcher Tommy Toledo (2-1) relieved him and picked up the win, while junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani (S3) tossed a solid ninth only giving up a single unearned run. Leading the Gators offensively were Johnson (2-4, RBI), sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-4, 2 RBI, BB) and sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (2-4, HR, 2 RBI, R). With one out in the ninth, Zunino hit a solo shot to left to tie the game at three runs apiece. Fonatna finished the rally with a two-RBI single to right field four batters later.

Saturday: The second game in the series saw much less offense as trio of UF pitchers – sophomore RHP Hudson Randall (3-0) and juniors RHP Greg Larson and LHP Nick Maronde (S1) – combined to complete a 1-0 shutout of LSU. Florida scored their single run just minutes into the game as Fontana (1-3, R, BB) began the contest with a leadoff walk and junior left fielder Daniel Pigott (2-4, RBI) doubled to right center to send him across home plate. Randall scattered eight hits over 6.2 innings but never gave up the tying run as the Tigers were unable to capitalize. After Larson finished out the seventh and began the eighth, Mardone came in to close it out and notched strikeouts in four of the game’s five final outs.

Sunday: Down 3-0 through three innings in the third game of the series, the Gators rallied to score seven unanswered runs as they completed the road sweep in exciting fashion. Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson began on the hill for Florida but struggled with his command, giving up six hits, four walks and three runs (two earned) in 4.2 innings while striking out four. Sophomore first baseman/RHP Austin Maddox (1-0) earned his first career win in relief of Whitson, allowing only two hits and striking out three over the final 4.1 innings of the game. Faced with a three-run deficit, the Gators rallied to score five in the top of the fourth and immediately take the lead.

With the bases loaded on three-straight singles, Zunino (1-4, 2 RBI, R) added a fourth to drive in two runs. After two ground outs, junior Jeff Moyer (3-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) pinch hit for sophomore third baseman Cody Dent (1-1); he hit a two-RBI single to center. Fontana (2-4, RBI, BB) completed the rally with a triple to right center to score Moyer and put UF on top 5-3. Solo shots from senior second baseman Josh Adams (2-4, RBI, R) in the sixth and Moyer in the ninth completed the Gators’ scoring efforts and ensured they would leave Baton Rouge with the clean sweep.

Florida, currently on a season-long eight-game winning streak, returns to Gainesville, FL for a five-game home stand including two against Winthrop (Tuesday-Wednesday) and a three-game series against South Carolina (Friday-Sunday).

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Florida baseball walks off with 5-4 win over FSU

Rallying back from a four-run deficit surrendered back in the third inning, No. 1 Florida Gators baseball (15-2) utilized a walk-off single by junior left fielder Daniel Pigott in extra innings to defeat the No. 4 Florida State Seminoles (15-2) 5-4 on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL and even the season series at 1-1.

With one out in the bottom of the 10th, sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-4, R, 2 BB) smacked a triple to put the potential game-winning run in scoring position. Pigott (3-4, 4 RBI, 2 BB) followed by stepping up to the plate and hitting his career-high fourth RBI of the game to score Fontana and conclude Florida’s come-from-behind victory.

Scoreless through two, Gators junior left-handed pitcher Alex Panteliodis had a rough go of it in the top of the third. After the lead-off batter singled to center field, Seminoles right fielder James Ramsay homered to right to put Florida State up 2-0. When Panteliodis (2.1 IP, 3 ER, 3 K) gave up a double two batters later, head coach Kevin O’Sullivan replaced him with junior right-handed pitcher Greg Larson, who promptly allowed SS Justin Gonzalez to hit FSU’s second two-run home run of the evening.

Florida cut the deficit to three runs by having a single batter cross home plate in the bottom of the inning. Senior second baseman Josh Adams (1-3, R) led off with a single to center and advanced around the bases on a pair of ground outs. Pigott hit a double to left center for his first RBI of the game to get the Gators on the board.

One inning later, sophomore designated hitter Brian Johnson (2-4, R, BB) smacked a ball up the middle before being driven home two batters later by junior center fielder Tyler Thompson (1-5, RBI). Florida left three on base in the fourth and stranded a total of five more batters over the next three innings.

Still down two in the bottom of the eighth, the Gators found the bases loaded on a pair of hits and a walk. Pigott came through in the clutch for the second time on the night, tying the game at four runs apiece by hitting a two-RBI single to center to score junior 2B Jeff Moyer (1-2, R) and sophomore pinch hitter Kamm Washington (1-1, R).

After Larson (3.2 IP, ER, 2 K) and junior LHP Nick Mardone (1.1 IP, 3 K) did most of the heavy lifting in relief, junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani (3-0) stepped in at the top of the ninth. He promptly retired FSU’s batters in order in each of the next two innings, paving the way for Pigott’s game-winning single in the bottom of the 10th.

The Seminoles utilized nine pitchers on the evening and attempted to disrupt any rhythm the Gators could get going by stalling on the mound.

Florida will conclude the week by opening up Southeastern Conference competition with a three-game series on the road in Baton Rouge, LA against No. 5 LSU (15-1). The trio of contests will be played on Friday (7 p.m. – ESPN3.com), Saturday (7:30 p.m. – FSF) and Sunday (1 p.m. – CST).

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Florida baseball’s Bryson Smith arrested for DUI

A successful weekend on the diamond ended with some bad news for No. 1 Florida Gators baseball as senior outfielder Bryson Smith was arrested late Sunday night and charged with driving under the influence, according to the Gainesville Police Department’s arrest report.

Smith, who was picked up at 11:50 p.m. after an officer observed him taking wide turns and drifting on the road, failed field sobriety tests but refused a breathalyzer test, according to The Gainesville Sun, which first reported the story.

Officer Jesse Bostick responded to the scene and conducted field sobriety exercises, during which Smith appeared to be swaying while standing and had bloodshot and glassy eyes, according to the report.

A bench player who is hitting .345 with five RBI in 14 games this season, Smith was booked at 1:16 a.m. and will be charged with Florida statute 316.193.1.

OGGOA will update this story when additional information is made available.

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SIX BITS: track, baseball, softball, tennis, lax

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators men’s track & field won the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships over the weekend to capture back-to-back national titles. If you missed or overlooked this accomplishment, check out OGGOA‘s story.

2 » Still rebounding from a tough home loss to Georgia Southern on March 8, No. 1 Florida baseball improved to 14-2 over the weekend by sweeping the Rhode Island Rams (7-6) in a three-game series. The Gators – which beat the Rams 11-5, 12-4 and 8-6 in consecutive days – were dominant from start-to-finish. Florida also matched the best start in school history with 14 wins through the first 16 games (1952, 1963, 1977, 1985, 1992) of the season.

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (4-0) grabbed the victory on Friday, striking out five and giving up three earned runs on six hits in seven full innings. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (2-0) took the hill Saturday and also pitched seven strong innings; he struck out four and allowed five hits. Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson (3-0) closed out the weekend for the Gators with junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani (S2) capping his performance with three strikeouts in 1.1 innings.

Florida was strong offensively all weekend, but a few Gators were models of consistency. Junior Preston Tucker (6/11, HR, 5 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB) led the way for UF with senior second baseman Josh Adams (4/15, 7 RBI, R), sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (5/11, 4 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB) and sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (5/10, 2 RBI, 5 R, 4 BB) also having strong offensive performances.

3 » No. 1/2 Florida softball (25-1) suffered their first loss of the season over the weekend but did so in the fourth of five games and still held on to win the USF Under Armour Showcase. UF defeated Connecticut (5-7) 9-0 and Robert Morris (6-7) 6-1 on Friday before thrashing Ball State (11-9) 21-0 early Saturday evening. In the late game against Nebraska (18-2), the Gators lost their power stroke and fell 1-0. Florida rebounded the next day, beating South Florida (14-13) 10-2 to cap the event and take the title. Gators senior RHP Stephanie Brombacher improved to 14-0 on the season with two wins over the weekend. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers (11-1) also earned two wins (including the event clincher) but also got the first loss of her career after allowing one earned run on four hits in seven innings on Saturday night.

4 » No. 1 Florida women’s tennis (15-1, 4-0 SEC) continued its dominant stretch this season with back-to-back victories at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL over the weekend against the Alabama Crimson Tide (7-4, 0-2 SEC) 6-1 and Auburn Tigers (2-12, 0-2 SEC) 4-0. UF combined to win 13 of 15 matches in the event, and the Gators also led in all three contests that did not finish due to the event’s winner already having been decided.

5 » Matching the women was No. 15 Florida men’s tennis (11-3, 4-0 SEC), which beat Alabama (7-5, 0-3 SEC) 6-1 and Auburn (8-5, 1-3 SEC) 4-3 on the road over the weekend. On Friday, senior Alexandre Lacroix broke the all-time school doubles record (94 wins) and became just the seventh tennis player in program history to win 100 singles matches. No. 6 Lacroix’s combined 195 career victories (after a second singles win on Sunday) rank him third in UF history.

6 » Just days after one of the biggest wins in program history, No. 14 Gators lacrosse (6-1) refused to relent and instead thrashed the Temple Owls (1-4) 19-4 on Saturday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville. Eight different Florida players scored against Temple, with sophomore midfielder Kitty Cullen (five goals, six points) once again leading the way. Sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns also continued her stellar play with five points from two goals and three assists.

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FOUR BITS: lacrosse’s big win, baseball’s rebound

1 » Don’t bother telling No. 14 Florida Gators lacrosse that you’re not supposed to upset a top-10 team in only your second year of existence. On Wednesday night at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, FL, Florida (5-1) took down the No. 9 Georgetown Hoyas (0-2) 17-10 for the program’s first win against an opponent ranked No. 10 or higher in school history. Leading the way once again for the Gators was sophomore midfielder Kitty Cullen, who scored four goals on eight shots. Sophomore M Brittany Dashiell matched Cullen shot-for-shot, and sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns scored three goals and notched one assist. Florida out-shot Georgetown 32-19 on the evening and outscored them in both halves. The Gators’ current five-game winning streak is the longest in program history and could be stretched further as they have five games remaining on their nine-game home stand.

2 » Looking to bounce back from a stunning defeat to unranked Georgia Southern, No. 1 Florida baseball (11-2) rebounded in a big way with a 8-1 thumping of the South Florida Bulls (5-7) on the road at the USF Baseball Stadium in Tampa, FL. Junior left-handed pitcher Alex Panteliodis (1-0) only pitched 5.0 innings but struck out four and only gave up a single earned run during his outing. Offensively, the Gators were powered by a trio of home runs from junior left fielder Daniel Pigott (3-4, 2 RBI, 3 R), sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (1-2, 2 RBI, 2 R) and senior second baseman Josh Adams (1-4, RBI, R). Zunino’s two-run shot in the top of the second put Florida on the board early and ended up being the game-winning hit, and Adams followed him with a solo shot giving the Gators back-to-back homers on the night. UF returns to Gainesville for a three-game weekend series against Rhode Island.

Two more BITS on softball improving to 21-0 and Florida basketball not being able to earn a No. 2 seed in March Madness…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: lacrosse’s big win, baseball’s rebound

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Florida grad Davie’s bat grab earns rave reviews

Being a Florida Gators fan these days will not get you much publicity…unless you’re a beautiful woman, happen to be wearing jean shorts or are getting in some kind of trouble. Mitch Davie broke through that barrier by simply attending a Atlanta Braves spring training baseball game on Friday and – not as simply – making an astounding one-handed grab of a baseball bat flying into the stands (without spilling his Red Stripe).

“There was a group of nine of us that went to the game courtesy of our area manager for all our hard work these past months. So everyone on my right in my row is with me,” Davie told OGGOA in his first interview about the catch. “I had told D.J. Ackley, who is in sunglasses, that if a ball came his way I’d catch it.

“Two innings later, I hear the crowd scream and I look up and see the bat flying [in my direction]. So I just timed it and threw my hand out. I told D.J. afterward that he didn’t even react; he told me he put his foot up, but I didn’t even see it because I was so focused on the bat.”

Had the Associated Press’ David Goldman not captured the moment with his camera, only a select group of people would have known about Davie’s catch. Instead, his picture has been featured on numerous websites and mentioned on television programs including Jim Rome is Burning (ESPN) and Regis and Kelly (ABC).

He has been contacted for a handful of interviews but chose to speak with OGGOA first.

“I was surprised it was caught on camera and not video,” he said. “I assumed, it being a game played at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, that it would have been caught by someone’s video camera. The response has been tremendous.”

When a bat is flung into the crowd by accident, the respective team’s equipment manager often retrieves it in exchange for a replacement bat or some other memorabilia. Davie was able to keep the one he nabbed, though he jokingly wished his efforts were somewhat rewarded by the offending batter.

“The bat is in my possession,” he said. “I’m kind of upset [Atlanta second baseman] Dan Uggla left in the eighth inning, so I didn’t get an autograph. I think the least he owes me is dinner and a movie for saving him from a lawsuit!”

Davie may not get to enjoy a steak with Uggla, but he was definitely a part of a moment that Gators fans will be proud of for quite some time.

Photo Credit: David Goldman/Associated Press

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Georgia Southern shocks No. 1 Florida baseball

Coming off a three-game sweep of No. 24 Miami, No. 1 Florida Gators baseball did not expect the Georgia Southern Eagles to put up much of a fight Tuesday night. With the game scoreless entering the fifth inning, Georgia Southern (8-5) exploded for seven runs over the final four innings of the game to rout Florida (10-2) 7-0 and end their 24-game home winning streak at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Looking to give their starters a rest, the Gators began the game with junior left-handed pitcher Nick Mardone on the hill. Mardone struck out five in only 2.2 innings before being replaced by junior right-handed pitcher Greg Larson (0-1), who gave up two earned runs on three hits in three innings to earn the loss.

Only one of the four other runs Florida allowed was earned as errors and miscues cost the Gators dearly. None if it mattered, however, as Florida’s offense was only able to muster three singles over the course of the game. Eagles pitchers Chris Beck, Josh Adams (3-1) and Matt Murray (S2) teamed up to complete Georgia Southern’s shutout. The trio combined to strike out 11 UF batters, with Beck giving up his team’s only walk.

GSU center fielder Shawn Payne (2-5, 2 RBI, R), first baseman Steve Cochrane (1-5, 2 RBI, R) and shortstop Ben Morgan (3-4, 2 R) led the way for their team offensively.

Florida faces South Florida in Tampa on Wednesday before returning home for a three-game weekend series against Rhode Island from Friday-Sunday.

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No. 1 Florida baseball sweeps Miami in series

No. 1 Florida Gators baseball (10-1) completed a three-game series sweep of the No. 24 Miami Hurricanes (4-7) over the weekend with a 5-3 win on Sunday.

Florida was also victorious 8-3 on Friday and 1-0 on Saturday to sweep Miami in Gainesville, FL for the first time in school history.

The Gators have now won nine of their last 10 match-ups against the Hurricanes including six-straight. This weekend they did so in front of a combined crowd of 13,552.

Friday: Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (3-0) struck out nine in five scoreless innings to help Florida prevail. Senior second baseman Josh Adams (3-3, 3 RBI, R) and sophomore third baseman Austin Maddox (2-5, HR, 2 RBI, R) led the way for the offense as the Gators scored eight unanswered runs and eventually won 8-3.

Saturday: Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall picked up right where Johnson left off, tossing seven one-hit innings while striking out five before being relieved by RHP Anthony DeSclafani in the top of the eighth. After DeSclafani (2-0) forced three consecutive ground outs, Florida decided to bring in senior Bryson Smith to pinch hit with Adams on second after a lead-off walk. Smith (1-1, RBI) knocked Adams home with a single to right center and DeSclafani struck out two in the top of the ninth to end the game. The 1-0 series-clinching win marked UF’s first shutout of UM since 2004.

Sunday: Tied 2-2 heading into the sixth, the Gators rallied for three runs and eventually prevailed 5-3 over the Hurricanes. Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson took the hill for Florida but gave up seven hits and two earned runs while striking out four in five innings of work. Junior RHP Tommy Toledo (2-0) bridged the gap with two strikeouts in 2.2 shutout innings before DeSclafani (S1) eventually came on for the save opportunity in the ninth. Junior right fielder Preston Tucker (3-4, RBI, R) hit a solo shot to start off the sixth inning rally, and junior left fielder Daniel Pigott (1-4, 2 RBI) completed it with a two-run double. Florida also saw sterling offensive efforts from freshman 3B Zack Powers (2-4, RBI, R) and sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (0-2, 2 BB, 2 R).

UF, which has won 24-straight games at McKethan Stadium, looks to continue their winning ways next week with a pair of contests against Georgia Southern and USF as well as a three-game weekend series vs. Rhode Island.

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