FOUR BITS: Jenkins, MLB, basketball, CWS

1 » Former Florida Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was kicked off the team by head coach Will Muschamp following multiple brushes with the law, has officially signed a scholarship with the North Alabama Lions, where he will play under head coach Terry Bowden. “I talked to everybody that I could possibly talk to at Florida, who had a relationship with him,” Bowden told ESPN.com. “From Urban Meyer to Will Muschamp to Jeremy Foley, they all said he is a guy who made a mistake. But it does not represent his character or his time at Florida. They all thought he deserved a second chance.” North Alabama actually represents Jenkins’s fourth chance.

2 » A pair of former Florida baseball players are in the process of being removed from the disabled list by their respective MLB teams. Oakland Athletics second baseman Mark Ellis (hamstring) came off the 15-day list Wednesday and will continue to serve as a utility player with the squad. Texas Rangers relief pitcher Darren O’Day (hip) has been out much longer after having surgery in late April. He was placed on the 60-day list and will likely rejoin Texas on Tuesday.

3 » With the NCAA recently coming down hard on the Kentucky Wildcats for celebrating head coach John Calipari’s “500th” victory, the Gators have decided to adjust their men’s basketball record books due to sanctions levied against the team for the actions of former head coach Norm Sloan. “According to the NCAA infractions report, Sloan paid child support to keep one of his players out of jail and paid transportation from Gainesville to Boston to allow one of his players to work as a counselor at a summer basketball basketball camp,” The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway explains. The player in question is presumed to be Vernon Maxwell, who has his final two seasons with the team erased from the media guide. Florida has placed asterisks next to NCAA Tournament games and adjusted their books .

4 » Already 4-1 against the No. 6-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores this season (2-1 on the road, 2-0 at neutral sites), No. 2 Gators baseball will once again take on their Southeastern Conference East division rivals in the semifinals of the 2011 College World Series on Friday at 2 p.m. Florida (52-17) is one win away from advancing to the Championship Series, while Vanderbilt (54-11) would need to defeat UF twice in order to move forward. OGGOA will have complete coverage of the upcoming CWS game, including a full preview, throughout the day on Friday.

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In all kinds of weather, Florida storms past Vanderbilt for 3-1 College World Series win

It may have taken two days to complete, but No. 2 Florida Gators baseball returned after a 14-hour weather delay to run through the No. 6 Vanderbilt Commodores 3-1 in the winner’s bracket of the 2011 College World Series on Tuesday.

Restarting the contest in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, NE, Florida (52-17) and Vanderbilt (53-11) combined to retire 19 of the 20 batters who stepped to the plate. Each team walked one but did not allow a single hit in the final 3.1 innings of the contest.

The Gators now hold a 4-1 record against the Commodores this season and are 2-0 when taking on their Southeastern Conference East division rivals in postseason play.

Vanderbilt squandered two opportunities early in the game, stranding a runner 90 feet from home plate in both the first and third inning.

Florida, on the other hand, took advantage of their first real chance to score. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (0-3, R, BB) earned a one-out walk in the top of the fourth and moved over to third after sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (1-4, R) legged out an infield single and Commodores starter Grayson Garvin committed a throwing error.

Working his way to a 2-1 count, junior right fielder/first baseman Preston Tucker (2-4, HR, 3 RBI, R) powered a three-run bomb to right to give the Gators a 3-0 lead.

VU would not make the same mistake a third time and finally got the best of Florida freshman right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson. After allowing only two hits through the first four innings of the game, Whitson gave up pair of singles and a walk in the bottom of the fifth, letting Vanderbilt plate their first runner of the game. The Commodores would not continue the rally, however, as Whitson (4.2 IP, ER, 4 H, BB, 5 K) was pulled for sophomore left-hander Steven Rodriguez, who struck out 1B Aaron Westlake to end the inning.

Rodriguez kept on rolling in the sixth, but high wind warnings and severe weather delayed the game for nearly three hours with the Gators looking to get the final out of the inning. Action would never resume Monday evening as the NCAA called the contest for the night around 11:30 p.m., but Rodriguez returned to the mound Tuesday at 11:06 a.m. and struck out the final batter to move the game into the seventh.

Vanderbilt replaced Garvin (13-2, 6 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, BB, 9 K) with Will Clinard when play resumed Tuesday, and he followed the game’s trend by also being dominant on the hill and holding Florida scoreless for the duration.

However, it was Rodriguez (4-2) who stole the show, retiring 13 of the 14 batters he faced with a career-high seven strikeouts in 4.1 innings.

Tucker’s 23rd double of the year in the sixth set a new single-season UF record, and Rodriguez’s 4.1 innings pitched was a career-high. The Gators also set a new single-season wins record with their 52nd victory of the year on Tuesday.

Florida will move on in the winner’s bracket and play their next game Friday at 2 p.m. against either Vanderbilt or North Carolina; those two teams will square-off Wednesday at 7 p.m. in an elimination game. The Gators need one more victory to advance to the CWS Championship Series for the first time since 2005.

POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE AUDIO
Courtesy of Heath Cline (@heathradio)

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Weather forces Florida vs. Vandy postponement

Nearly six full innings into the winner’s bracket match-up between the No. 2 Florida Gators and No. 6 Vanderbilt Commodores, severe weather forced a stoppage and ultimately a postponement play at the 2011 College World Series. High wind warnings sounded and were heard throughout TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, NE with one out in the bottom of the sixth, and the players were ordered off the field one out later after NCAA officials consulted about the weather conditions.

The contest is set to resume at 11 a.m. (ET) on Tuesday with the winner one victory away from the Championship Series and the loser one defeat away from elimination.

Vanderbilt squandered two opportunities early in the game, stranding a runner 90 feet from home plate in both the first and third inning.

Florida, on the other hand, took advantage of their first real chance to score. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana earned a one-out walk in the top of the fourth and moved over to third after sophomore catcher Mike Zunino legged out an infield single and Commodores starter Grayson Garvin committed a throwing error.

Working his way to a 2-1 count, junior right fielder Preston Tucker powered a three-run bomb to right to give the Gators a 3-0 lead.

VU would not make the same mistake a third time and finally got the best of Florida freshman right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson. After allowing only two hits through the first four innings of the game, Whitson gave up pair of singles and a walk in the bottom of the fifth, letting Vanderbilt plate their first runner of the game. The Commodores would not continue the rally, however, as Whitson was pulled for sophomore left-hander Steven Rodriguez, who struck out first baseman Aaron Westlake to end the inning.

Rodriguez kept on rolling in the sixth, but high wind warnings and severe weather delayed the game for nearly three hours with the Gators looking to get the final out of the inning. Action would never resume as the NCAA called the contest for the night around 11:30 p.m. (ET), setting the stage for the final 3.1 innings to be played on Tuesday.

OGGOA will continue our coverage of the Florida-Vanderbilt contest early in the afternoon. The remainder of the game will air live on ESPN and ESPN3.com.

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2011 College World Series: Florida vs. Vanderbilt

Event: 2011 NCAA Tournament – College World Series
Location: TD Ameritrade Park – Omaha, NE [Capacity: 24,505]
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN2 / ESPN2HD
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(2) FLORIDA GATORS (6) VANDY COMMODORES
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: Tim Corbin
Record: 51-17 Record: 53-10
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

PROJECTED STARTERS

Florida: Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson (8-0, 2.45 ERA)
Vanderbilt: Junior RHP Grayson Garvin (13-1, 2.36 ERA)

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is 3-1 against Vanderbilt in 2011 including 2-1 on the road and 1-0 in the SEC Tournament. UF is 123-63-1 in the all-time series between the two teams.
» One more victory will give the Gators the school record for most in a season.
» Florida is 38-7 this year when scoring first and 41-3 when outhitting their opponent. The Gators are also 34-6 when hitting a home run and 21-5 when playing error-free.
» UF has scored 205 more runs than their opponents this year.
» Florida is 27-0 when holding opponents to two or fewer runs and 36-1 when allowing three runs or less. The Gators are 7-15 when scoring less than three runs and 2-13 when trailing after seven innings.
» The Gators are 44-2 when scoring four runs or more and 44-0 when leading after seven full innings.
» Florida is making its seventh appearance in the CWS and third since 2005. UF has never won a national championship in the sport of baseball.
» The Gators are one of two teams (South Carolina) to play in the final CWS held at Rosenblatt Stadium and compete in the first one at TD Ameritrade Park.
» UF is in the CWS in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.
» Vanderbilt finished the regular season tied with Florida atop the SEC East with a 22-8 conference record. UF topped VU in the SEC Tournament.
» The Commodores are making their first-ever appearance in the CWS.
» Florida and Vanderbilt boast different strengths. The Gators lead the Commodores in hits (723-692), home runs (67-48), RBI (411-403) and slugging percentage (.467-.455). However, VU holds advantages in the majority of categories including batting average (.318-.310), runs scored (449-443), stolen bases (79-56), walks (253-234), ERA (2.39-2.98), strikeouts (541-513) and batting average against (.217-.244).

INJURY REPORT

Sophomore 1B/RHP Austin Maddox (foot) – Able to pitch; hitting to be determined

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino…a powerhouse at the plate who leads the team in batting average (.371), hits (92), homers (18), runs (72), slugging (.677)…and strikeouts (49). He also has 66 RBI on the season.
» Junior right fielder Preston Tucker…who is the Gators’ best run producer with 69 RBI on the season. Tucker is hitting .312 with 84 hits, 54 runs, 14 homers and 27 walks.
» Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana…the strongest fielder on the team who has also broke out offensively. Fontana, as the team’s leadoff hitter, is hitting .295 with 72 hits, 56 runs, 47 RBI and a team-high 50 walks. He had hit safely in 21-straight games.
» Maddox…who has made 19 relief appearances (24.1 innings) and has compiled a 0.74 ERA with 21 strikeouts and only three walks. He is also the team’s starting first baseman when healthy and is hitting .380 with six homers and 35 RBI.
» Junior reliever Nick Maronde (0-0, 1.93 ERA)…who has made a team-high 34 appearances this season and earned two saves in 42 innings pitched. He has amassed 54 strikeouts against only seven walks this season. Just seven of the 26 hits he has allowed over the course of the year have gone for extra bases.
» Senior center fielder Bryson Smith…who leads the Gators with a .556 (15-for-27) average in NCAA play and is currently riding a career-high 11-game hitting streak. Smith is batting .331 with 52 hits, 40 runs, two homers, 22 RBI and 16 walks this season.
» Vanderbilt junior 1B Aaron Westlake…who leads his team’s power surge with 17 homers this year. He is also hitting .349 with 55 RBI, 58 runs scored and has team-highs in walks (47) and slugging percentage (.643).
» Commodores junior third baseman Jason Esposito…who is batting .350 and is just as dynamic offensively as his teammate with nine homers, 55 runs scored, 15 stolen bases and a team-high 59 RBI.
» VU closer Navery Moore (4-2, 1.21 ERA)…who has made 28 appearances this season and amassed 11 saves via 25 strikeouts in 29.2 innings.

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Gators open CWS by defeating Longhorns 8-4

Though power has been their trademark all season long, the No. 2 Florida Gators beat the No. 7 Texas Longhorns at their own game Saturday, using a combination of strong pitching and clutch hitting to win the second game ever played at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, NE. The Gators (51-17) came back from a three-run deficit to beat the Longhorns (49-18) 8-4 and advance to the winner’s bracket of the 2011 College World Series.

Texas took advantage of consecutive errors by Florida to get on the board first in the third inning. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana and junior first baseman Preston Tucker allowed the first two batters on after bobbling easy outs, and the Longhorns utilized a RBI single and two sacrifice flies to score a trio of unearned runs and take an early 3-0 lead.

The Gators got a similar opportunity in the bottom frame, starting off with consecutive walks. A single to right by senior center fielder Bryson Smith and a passed ball with Tucker at the plate scored freshman third baseman Cody Dent and Fontana (0-5, R), respectively, reducing UT’s advantage to a single run.

Drawing a two-out walk one inning later, sophomore left fielder Tyler Thompson moved to second on a wild pitch and scored as junior right fielder Daniel Pigott hit a double to deep right. Pigott (2-3, RBI, R, BB) was rewarded by Dent (1-3, RBI, R, BB), who smacked another two-out double down the left field line to put Florida ahead 4-3.

Smith again got things rolling for the Gators in the fifth, taking first base after getting hit by a pitch. Tucker powered a gapper to deep right-center to plate him and give his team a 5-3 lead, but not before forcing Texas starter Taylor Jungmann into his shortest outing of the season. Jungmann (13-3) left after allowing five runs (four earned) on three hits with four walks, a hit batter and a pair of wild pitches while striking out three.

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (11-3), who started on the hill for Florida, was terrific throughout the evening, tossing four 1-2-3 innings (including three in a row) and retiring 13 consecutive batters at one point. He was pulled after allowing a RBI double to left in the seventh, finishing the contest having given up four runs (one earned) on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks in 6.2 innings.

The Gators answered the Longhorns immediately in the seventh. Smith walked with one out and advanced to second after Tucker (1-4, RBI, R) ran through an infield single hit after the pitcher balked. With two outs, sophomore designated hitter Brian Johnson (1-4, 2 RBI) hit what should have been a three-run homer to right-center but was instead ruled a two-RBI double off the top of the wall due to the inability to utilize instant replay.

Florida would end up earning that run the next inning when, with runners on first and second, Smith (2-2, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB) hit a liner to center to score Thompson (1-3, 2 R, BB) and give the Gators an 8-4 lead.

Junior right-handed pitcher Greg Larson struck out the only batter he faced in the seventh, and junior left-handed pitcher Nick Maronde came on to toss the final two innings of the contest, striking out three batters without allowing a single hit.

With the victory, Florida improves to 41-3 this season when out-hitting their opponent, 44-2 when scoring four or more runs and 44-0 when leading after seven innings. The Gators’ 51st victory of the year ties a single-season record.

UF will face No. 6 Vanderbilt (53-10) in the winner’s bracket on Monday at 7 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com. Florida is 3-1 against their Southeastern Conference Eastern division rival in 2011 with all four games played away from home.

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2011 College World Series: Florida vs. Texas

Event: 2011 NCAA Tournament – College World Series
Location: TD Ameritrade Park – Omaha, NE [Capacity: 24,505]
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN / ESPNHD
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(2) FLORIDA GATORS (7) TEXAS LONGHORNS
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: Augie Garrido
Record: 50-17 Record: 49-17
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big 12
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

PROJECTED STARTERS

Florida: Sophomore LHP Hudson Randall (10-3, 2.29 ERA)
Texas: Junior RHP Taylor Jungmann (13-2, 1.38 ERA)

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida and Texas met in the 2005 CWS Championship Series with the Longhorns sweeping the Gators via back-to-back 4-2 and 6-2 wins to earn the title. That is the only time that UT and UF have every gone head-to-head in baseball until Saturday.
» Florida is one victory away from tying a school record for most in a season.
» The Gators are 38-7 this year when scoring first and 40-3 when outhitting their opponent. Florida is also 34-6 when hitting a home run and 21-5 when playing error-free.
» UF has scored 201 more runs than their opponents this year.
» Florida is 27-0 when holding opponents to two or fewer runs and 36-1 when allowing three runs or less. The Gators are 7-15 when scoring less than three runs and 2-13 when trailing after seven innings.
» UF is 43-2 when scoring four runs or more and 43-0 when leading after seven frames.
» Florida is making its seventh appearance in the CWS and third since 2005. UF has never won a national championship in the sport of baseball.
» The Gators are one of two teams (South Carolina) to play in the final CWS held at Rosenblatt Stadium and compete in the first one at TD Ameritrade Park.
» UF is in the CWS in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.
» Texas is the top-ranked team in the Big 12, finishing with a 19-8 record in league play.
» The Longhorns are 13-8 when not playing at home this season.
» UT is the winningest program in college baseball history (based on winning percentage) and has the second-most wins all-time (3,149).
» Texas holds the record for most CWS appearances (34) and most games won (82).
» The Longhorns have won six NCAA baseball titles (1949, 1950, 1975, 2002, 2005) and have appeared in the Championship Series a total of 12 times.
» The Florida and Texas boast different strengths. The Gators lead the Longhorns in batting average (.311-.272), runs scored (435-345), hits (715-580), homers (67-17) and RBI (404-304). However, UT holds advantages in steals (75-56), walks (286-228), ERA (2.27-3.01), saves (23-14), strikeouts (555-504) and batting average against (.196-.245).

INJURY REPORT

Sophomore LHP/DH Brian Johnson (concussion) – Cleared to play
Sophomore 1B/RHP Austin Maddox (foot) – Able to pitch; hitting to be determined

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino…a powerhouse at the plate who leads the team in batting average (.376), hits (92), homers (18), runs (72), slugging (.686)…and strikeouts (47). He also has 66 RBI on the season. Zunino has more home runs (18) this year than the entire Texas team combined (17).
» Junior right fielder Preston Tucker…who is the Gators’ best run producer with 68 RBI on the season. Tucker is hitting .314 with 83 hits, 53 runs, 14 homers and 27 walks.
» Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana…arguably the strongest fielder on the team who has also broke out offensively. Fontana, as the team’s leadoff hitter, is hitting .301 with 72 hits, 55 runs, 47 RBI and a team-high 50 walks. He has hit safely in 21-straight games.
» Maddox…who has made 19 relief appearances (24.1 innings) and has compiled a 0.74 ERA with 21 strikeouts and only three walks. He is also the team’s starting first baseman when healthy and is hitting .380 with six homers and 35 RBI.
» Junior reliever Nick Maronde (0-0, 2.03 ERA)…who has made a team-high 33 appearances this season and earned two saves in 40 innings pitched. He has amassed 51 strikeouts against only seven walks this season. Just seven of the 26 hits he has allowed over the course of the year have gone for extra bases.
» Texas freshman third baseman Erich Weiss…who leads his team in batting average (.358), RBI (44), walks (53) and slugging percentage (.532) and has also scored 46 runs in 218 trips to the plate this season.
» Longhorns closer Corey Knebel (3-2, 1.15 ERA)…who has pitched in a team-high 37 games and amassed 19 saves via 60 strikeouts in 54.2 innings.

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Johnson cleared to play; Maddox still day-to-day

The Florida Gators’ medical staff has cleared sophomore left-handed pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson (concussion) to play in the 2011 College World Series, the University of Florida announced on Thursday.

He has been sidelined since May 28 after he was hit in the back as sophomore catcher Mike Zunino tried to throw out a runner stealing second base.

Johnson will slide back into his spot in the lineup and will likely be added back to the starting pitching rotation as well. He is 8-3 with a 3.66 ERA on the mound and hitting .312 with five home runs, 27 RBI, 26 runs and 19 walks at the plate.

The news is not as positive for Gators sophomore first baseman/closer Austin Maddox, who hurt his foot while catching a pop out in foul territory on June 3. He continues to be listed as day-to-day and it is unknown if he will be able to return this season.

No. 2 Florida (50-17) opens the CWS on Saturday at 7 p.m. against No. 7 Texas.

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Tucker’s three-run blast powers Gators past Bulldogs 8-6 and into College World Series

It took a day longer than they may have liked, but No. 2 Florida Gators baseball (50-17) advanced to its second-straight College World Series on Sunday with a come-from-behind 8-6 victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs (38-25) in game three of the Super Regionals at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

The Gators will compete at the CWS in Omaha, NE in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history, using a three-run homer by junior right fielder Preston Tucker in the seventh to take back a lost lead and propel themselves to victory. UF hit five bombs Sunday, setting a season-high for home runs in a single game as part of their win.

Florida jumped on Mississippi State early, hitting three home runs in the first two innings and taking an early 4-0 lead. Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino got things started by cranking a solo shot with two outs in the first. Junior designated hitter Daniel Pigott lined a two-run homer over the left field wall in the second and the very next batter, redshirt sophomore first baseman Vickash Ramjit (1-3, HR, RBI, R, BB), followed suit with the first dinger of his college career.

Junior left-handed pitcher Alex Panteliodis got the start for the Gators and retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced through three innings. Things fell apart for him in the fourth after he allowed back-to-back singles to start the inning. With no outs, Bulldogs second baseman Nick Vickerson tagged Panteliodis for a three-run bomb to left-center, cutting Florida’s big lead to 4-3.

Pulled after allowing the tying run on in the fifth, Panteliodis (4.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 H) was substituted for with junior right-handed pitcher Greg Larson, who let the runner advance to second on a wild pitch but got out of the inning unscathed. Larson was pulled just one inning later after getting Vickerson to ground out but allowing the game-tying and go-ahead runs on base via consecutive singles.

At that point Larson (IP, 2 H, K) was replaced by junior LHP Nick Maronde (1.1 IP, ER, H, K), who got out of the sixth but left in the seventh after giving up a two-out double. Junior RHP Tommy Toledo looked to save the day but struggled mightily at first, walking the first batter on four-straight pitches and allowing Vickerson to hit a liner to right to tie the game 4-4. He then gave up a bases loaded single to left fielder Brent Brownlee, who plated two more and put Mississippi State ahead 6-4 on six unanswered runs.

The Gators started the bottom of the inning with back-to-back walks before Bulldogs closer Caleb King was called upon to get Zunino out. Zunino (2-4, HR, RBI, R) instead threw down a sacrifice bunt to place the game-tying run on second with one out. Faced with a 3-1 count, Tucker (2-3, HR, 3 RBI, R, BB) powered the ball to deep center field, hitting a go-ahead three-run homer to give Florida a 7-6 lead.

Toledo sat down all three batters he faced in the top of the eighth, sending the game into the bottom of the inning where Pigott (3-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB) hit his second homer of the afternoon to put the Gators ahead 8-6 with just three outs to go. Toledo (6-3) returned for the ninth and retired the side again, forcing Vickerson to fly out to center for the final out of the game. He finished the contest with 2.1 strong innings and threw the final seven outs of the game after giving up two earned runs on two hits with two walks.

Panteliodis set a school record with his sixth NCAA Tournament start, and senior second baseman Josh Adams set another for most games played in a Florida uniform (248). With his three-run homer, Tucker joined the school’s three-man 200 RBI club (Brad Wilkerson, Matt LaPorta) and proved how dangerous he is behind Zunino.

The 65th College World Series is set to begin on June 18 with the Gators holding the No. 2 overall seed as long as top-seed Virginia advances.

 

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