Gators cage Bulldogs 11-1 in Super Regional

On a scorching day at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL, nothing was hotter than the home team’s offense. Scoring in the first five innings of the game, No. 2 Florida Gators baseball (49-16) demolished the Mississippi State Bulldogs (37-24) 11-1 in the first of the three-game Super Regional series taking place over the weekend.

Florida’s offense was not the only thing on fire Friday as sophomore left-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (10-3) was absolute dynamite on the mound, only allowing a single earned run while striking out a season-high eight batters in eight innings of work.

The Gators’ offense was potent out of the gate, plating four runs in the first. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana led off with a walk and was joined on base by senior center fielder Bryson Smith and junior right fielder Preston Tucker (0-3, R, 2 BB), who reached via a single and walk, respectively. Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino capitalized with a bases loaded two-RBI double, and senior left fielder Tyler Thompson (1-5, 2 RBI) followed suit two batters later to help another pair of runs cross the plate.

Fontana (1-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB) connected with a two-run homer to right in the second, and Zunino (2-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB) added a solo shot on the first pitch of the third to provide Florida with an early 7-0 advantage that the team hoped to improve upon.

That is exactly what the Gators did in the fourth, as Smith hit a one-out single up the middle to plate freshman third baseman Cody Dent (1-1, RBI, 2 R, 2 BB), and senior second baseman Josh Adams (2-5, RBI) singled through the left side of the infield to score Smith (3-5, RBI, R). Florida tacked in one more run in the seventh via a solo shot by junior designated player Daniel Pigott (1-4, HR, RBI, R).

The Gators improved to 34-9 all-time at home during NCAA play and are now 37-6 when scoring first and 40-2 when out-hitting their opponent this season.

With the series-opening victory, Florida needs only one more win to advance to the 2011 College World Series for the second-straight year. It would be the first time in school history that the Gators would make an appearance in the CWS in consecutive seasons.

Game two of the Gainesville Super Regional takes place Saturday at 12 p.m. and airs live on ESPN and ESPN3.com. Game three, if necessary, will begin Sunday at 1 p.m.

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SIX BITS: gymnastics, track, tennis, softball

1 » Don’t bother asking them to, because it does not look like No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics (6-0, 3-0 SEC) plans to slow down anytime soon. Drawing nearly 7,000 fans to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Friday, Florida took down the previously undefeated No. 6 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-1, 1-1 SEC) 197.55-195.45. Gators freshman Mackenzie Caquatto led the team with two event wins (uneven bars, balance beam) and took the all-around title with a score of 39.575, while senior Maranda Smith captured the vault event and sophomore Marissa King won the floor exercise. Florida will be tested once again on Saturday as they face No. 4 Georgia on the road.

2 » Gators sophomore sprinter Jeff Demps and junior jumper Christian Taylor became the fourth and fifth members of the team, respectively, to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships after posting strong individual showings over the weekend at the Virginia Tech Elite Meet. Demps recorded a 6.57 in the men’s 60-meter dash, the second-fastest time in the NCAA this season, during his first race of the year. Taylor won the triple jump with a mark of 16.61m/54-6 for the sixth-straight time in his last six competitions. The duo join jumpers junior Will Claye and sophomore Omar Craddock and junior heptathlete Gray Horn as Florida’s current NCAA automatic-qualifiers off the No. 1 men’s track & field team.

Read the rest of this post…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: gymnastics, track, tennis, softball

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Top 10 for 2010: On the Field Moments of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2010, the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From game-winning baskets to displays of pure emotion, Florida experienced some unique athletic moments in 2010. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 10 On the Field Moments of the Year.

OGGOA RELATED: Top 10 for 2010: Off the Field Stories of the Year

10 » FLORIDA WINS INAUGURAL LACROSSE GAME (2/20/10)
When Florida decided it wanted to start another women’s athletics program, the University Athletic Association did extensive research and found out that women’s lacrosse would be the perfect fit. In preparation for their first season, the Gators and head coach Amanda O’Leary secured the country’s No. 1 recruiting class (according to Inside Lacrosse Magazine). All the hard work and preparation to get the team ready paid off on Feb. 20 when lacrosse debuted in the brand new Donald R. Dizney Stadium to a boisterous crowd of 2,114 spectators. Florida defeated Jacksonville 16-6 behind four goals and four assists from freshman sensation Ashley Bruns. All-in-all the Gators faced 16 championship-caliber teams and played so well that they reached the 2010 ALC Tournament semifinals. In just their second year of existence, Florida women’s lacrosse is ranked as the No. 17 team in the country going into the 2011 season.

9 » NEAR VICTORIES/HEARTBREAKING LOSSES (5/25/10 * 3/18/10 * 10/9/10)

It is rare for teams to go undefeated and even less likely that an entire athletic program can go through a season without its share of close losses and nail biting finishes. Such was the case for the Gators in 2010. On May 25, No. 3 women’s tennis was barely defeated by the No. 8 Stanford Cardinal for the 2010 NCAA National Championship. Stanford won 4-3 after Florida rallied when they were just two individual games away from being defeated. The Gators forced third sets in two singles matches; sophomore Joanna Mather took down her opponent but senior No. 65 Marrit Boonstra was not as lucky. Losing her first set 6-4, Boonstra fought back to even her match with No. 33 Mallory Burdette by taking the second set 6-7 (4). Down 2-0 in the third, she pushed ahead with a valiant effort to take a 5-4 lead but ended up losing her final three games, the match itself and the championship.

Returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons, No. 10-seed Florida got in a bit easier than some might have expected. Matched up against the No. 7-seed Brigham Young Cougars in the event’s opening game, the Gators fought hard but could not stop Cougars star guard Jimmer Fredette. Allowing BYU to jump ahead 59-46 in the second half, UF came back behind freshman G Kenny Boynton and junior forward Chandler Parsons. Florida missed potential game-winners during regulation (Parsons) and the first overtime (Boynton) and eventually fell to Brigham Young 99-92 in a double-overtime heartbreaker with Fredette adding to his game-high 37 points.

Though losing a national championship and NCAA Tournament game are both difficult, Gators fans will probably look back on No. 12/14 Florida’s shocking loss to the No. 9/12 LSU Tigers on Oct. 10 as the worst near-victory of the season. Wearing orange jerseys for the first time since 1989, the Gators came back from a 12-point deficit when freshman wide receiver Andre Debose returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, sophomore running back Mike Gillislee rumbled in for a touchdown and redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley completed a two-point conversion to sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive. All Florida wanted when its defense came out was a stop, but LSU put together a 62-yard game-winning drive that included numerous third down conversions and a converted fake field goal attempt on fourth down from UF’s 36-yard line with 35 seconds remaining. Back-to-back passes to WR Terrence Toliver (of 28 and 3 yards, respectively) and the Tigers left The Swamp with a 33-29 victory. Players have noted that the loss was a negative turning point in the season, one that may or may not have led to the team dropping their third-straight game one week later at home to Mississippi State.

Continue Reading » Top 10 for 2010: On the Field Moments of the Year

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FOUR BITS: Addazio, baseball, lacrosse, Tebow

1 » According to OrangeBloods.com, the Texas Longhorns have decided to hire current Florida Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio as the team’s new offensive line coach. Addazio, who has struggled calling plays for Florida for the last two seasons, is a terrific offensive line coach and recruiter and should do quite well at Texas if the report is accurate. He was named ESPNU‘s recruiter of the year after helping corral the Gators’ 2010 recruiting class and served as interim head coach for Urban Meyer after he briefly stepped down and then during his recovery last offseason. It is worth noting that OrangeBloods.com previously reported that current Florida defensive coordinator Teryl Austin had been hired to the same position at UT; however, that has neither been confirmed nor denied since it was initially mentioned two weeks ago.

Addazio was recently named one of three head coach candidates for the open Temple Owls job. He reportedly interviewed for the position on Monday.

2 » Gators baseball has earned a No. 2 ranking in Collegiate Baseball’s preseason poll, which the organization released on Monday. Florida is coming off a season in which they finished 47-17, won the 2010 Southeastern Conference Championship and participated in the 2010 College World Series in Omaha, NE. The Gators are returning eight starters, 11 pitchers and 22 total letterwinners and begin their 2011 season with a three-game series against South Florida from Feb. 18-20.

3 » Participating in its inaugural season last year, Florida lacrosse is already making national waves after being ranked No. 17 in Lacrosse Magazine’s preseason poll. The Gators, who finished the 2010 season 10-8, reached the finals of the 2010 American Lacrosse Conference Tournament and was only the sixth team in Division I history to have 10 or more wins in its first season. Inside Lacross ranked Florida’s 19-person 2010 recruiting class No. 1 in the nation; every player is returning the team this year.

4 » Denver Broncos interim head coach Eric Studesville plans to start former Gators star quarterback Tim Tebow for his team’s final two games this season, according to numerous reports. Similarly, Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has decided to start former Florida signal caller Rex Grossman for his team’s two remaining games after Grossman’s strong performance on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Tricia Coyne/Gainesville Sun

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Seminoles chop Gators 8-5 in elimination game

Faced with elimination from the 2010 NCAA College World Series and the end of a stellar season, No. 3 Florida Gators baseball (47-17) lost their second-straight game for only the third time all year, falling 8-5 to the unranked Florida State Seminoles (48-19) on Monday evening at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, NE.

The Gators entered the series hoping to earn their 48th win of the season – one which would tie the program high (2005) – but could not come away with a victory after first falling to UCLA 11-3 on Saturday.

Freshman starter Hudson Randall (8-4) was blasted by the Seminoles for four earned runs in 2.2 innings including a solo shot by outfielder Tyler Holt (3-4, two RBI, three runs) to lead-off the first inning and a three-run homer by outfielder/pitcher Mike McGee (2-4, four RBI, two runs) in the bottom of the third. Freshman Brian Johnson, in relief, fared a little better but still allowed two earned runs in 3.1 innings. Sophomore Anthony DeSclafani and junior Kevin Chapman each gave up an earned run of their own before senior Greg Larson threw the final out.

For the Seminoles, Brian Busch (6-2) only allowed two earned runs in 5.1 innings. Geoff Parker tossed 2.1 innings of shutout relief before Daniel Bennett entered for an attempt to close out the game. However, Bennett would give up a three-RBI double to sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (1-5) in the top of the ninth before being pulled for McGee (S13) who forced freshman catcher Mike Zunino to line into an infield double play to end the game.

Freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-4, two runs), freshman designated hitter Austin Maddox (2-5, RBI) and senior outfielder Jonathan Pigott (2-4, RBI, run) led the way for Florida offensively, but the team was unable to put a rally together until it was too late.

FSU defeated UF for the fourth time in five meetings this season; the Seminoles are also responsible for ending the Gators’ season twice in the past three years after knocking the 2008 team out of the NCAA Tournament in the Tallahassee Regional.

Photo Credit: Daniel J. Muprhy/ Omaha World-Herald

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2010 NCAA College World Series Gameday (06/21): No. 3 Florida Gators vs. Florida State Seminoles

Location: Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium – Omaha, NE [Capacity: 23,170]
Game Time: 4:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPN2 / ESPN2HD
Online: ESPN3.com
OGGOA Live Updates: via Twitter

No. 3 Florida Gators Florida State Seminoles
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: Mike Martin
Starter: RHP Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.95 ERA) Starter: LHP Brian Busch (5-2, 3.97 ERA)
Record: 47-16 Record: 47-19
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

HISTORY / RECORDS:
» Florida State leads the all-time series against Florida 119-96-1; however, the Gators have a 3-0 record against the Seminoles in the NCAA College World Series and are 10-3 against them (including seven of the last eight) in the NCAA Tournament.
» The two teams will be squaring off for the fifth time in 2010 with every game taking place in a different city. FSU is 3-1 this year against UF, winning in Tampa, Jacksonville and Tallahassee; Florida won at home.
» O’Sullivan, throughout his time in Gainesville, is 4-7 against the Seminoles; 3-0 at home, 1-3 in Tallahassee and 0-4 at neutral sites.
» The last time these teams played in the NCAA Tournament, the Gators fell 17-11 at the 2008 Tallahassee Regional.
» Florida’s 47 wins this season is the program’s highest victory total since the 2005 team, which finished as a runner-up in the CWS and a record of 48-23.
» The Gators are 14-12 on the road and 2-5 at neutral sites in 2010.
» Florida has outscored opponents 434-282 this year, is 36-4 when scoring first and 11-12 when their competition does so. They are also 34-3 when registering more hits than their opponent and 10-13 otherwise.
» The Gators are undefeated when leading after six innings (41-0), seven innings (44-0) and eight innings (43-0), but only 1-16 when trailing after six, 2-15 when losing at the end of the seventh and 3-15 when down through eight.
» Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker is two stolen bases away from tying the school record of in the NCAA Tournament (David Eckstein, 6, 1994-97).
» Junior second baseman Josh Adams and senior OF Jonathan Pigott are each three doubles away from tying the school record of career doubles in the NCAA Tournament (Jeff Corsaletti & Justin Tordi, 6, 2002-05 & 2003-05).
» Sophomores first baseman Preston Tucker and OF Tyler Thompson are each three home runs away from tying the school record of career homers in the NCAA Tournament (Mario Linares, 7, 1988-91).

KEEP AN EYE ON…
» Freshman sensation Austin Maddox…a third baseman who can play three other positions, has garnered numerous awards while leading the Gators in RBI (71), multiple-RBI games (21), home runs (17) and slugging percentage (.591).
» den Dekker…a speed demon leading UF with a 23-for-30 conversion rate on stolen bases, he is tied for fifth on the program’s career list with 66 stolen bags and leads the 2010 team in batting average (.355), runs (65) and hits (87). He is also on an eight-game hitting streak.
» Freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana…who is hitting at a .333 clip through six NCAA Tournament games with nine walks, seven runs, three RBI, two doubles and a homer.
As of the beginning of the College World Series…
» Junior closer Kevin Chapman (3-0)…has a team-low 1.48 ERA (42.2 innings) in 30 appearances. He is tied for second in the SEC with 11 saves. As a team, Florida’s 18 saves are have tied the team’s single-season record (1991).
» The Gators bullpen…which is 17-2 with 18 saves and a 4.18 ERA in 243.1 innings, while its starters are a combined 30-13 with a 3.78 ERA in 304.2 innings.

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Miscues, pitching doom UF in 11-3 loss to UCLA

Two of only four ranked teams participating in the 2010 NCAA College World Series, the No. 3 Florida Gators (47-16) fell 11-3 in the opening round of the event at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, NE, to the No. 6 UCLA Bruins (49-14).

What was expected to be a pitching duel turned into a one-sided affair as UCLA’s Trevor Bauer (11-3) struck out 11 Florida batters over seven innings. Gators sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis (11-3) gave up four earned runs in 3.1 short innings after hitting the first two Bruins batters he faced.

Miscues doomed Florida Friday night; the team compiled four hit batters, four wild pitches, a passed ball and an error throughout the course of the game. Every Gators reliever – including freshman Steven Rodriguez (0.2 innings, two earned runs), senior Jeff Barfield (2.0 innings, one earned run), junior Matt Campbell (2.0 innings, two earned runs) and sophomore Tommy Toledo (1.0 inning, one earned run) – was hit hard and often (13 hits combined).

Shortstop Niko Gallego (4-5, two runs), outfielder Beau Amaral (3-4, one RBI), third baseman Dean Espy (3-6, two RBI) and catcher Steve Rodriguez (2-4, two RBI) led the way for UCLA offensively.

Freshman designated hitter Brian Johnson (1-4) hit a two-RBI double in the first inning to put the Gators on the board, and a solo home run from junior second baseman Josh Adams (1-3) in the fourth provided the only other score of the evening.

Florida hopes to rebound in its elimination game Monday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. against in-state rival Florida State. The game will air live on ESPN and ESPN3.

OGGOA Highlight: Matt den Dekker’s amazing Willie Mays-like catch

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Photo Credit: Matt Miller/Omaha World-Herald

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2010 NCAA College World Series Gameday (06/19): No. 3 Florida Gators vs. No. 6 UCLA Bruins

Location: Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium – Omaha, NE [Capacity: 23,170]
Game Time: 7 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPN / ESPNHD
Online: ESPN3.com
OGGOA Live Updates: via Twitter

No. 3 Florida Gators No. 6 UCLA Bruins
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: John Savage
Starter: LHP Alex Panteliodis (11-2, 3.39) Starter: RHP Trevor Bauer (10-3, 3.02)
Record: 47-15 Record: 48-14
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Pac-10
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

HISTORY / RECORDS:
» Florida leads the all-time series against UCLA 3-1, including a 2-0 record in the NCAA Tournament. The teams have never meet in the College World Series.
» The Gators will be making their sixth appearance in the CWS (first since 2005), while the Bruins will be there for the third time (first since 1997).
» Ironically enough, UF and UCLA are the only two teams to also reach the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series – the women faced-off in first round action on June 3.
» Against common opponents this season, the Gators are 11-2, while the Bruins are 6-1.
» Florida’s 47 wins this season is the program’s highest victory total since the 2005 team, which finished as a runner-up in the CWS and a record of 48-23.
» The Gators are 14-12 on the road and 2-4 at neutral sites in 2010.
» Florida has outscored opponents 431-271 this year, is 36-4 when scoring first and 11-11 when their competition does so. They are also 34-3 when registering more hits than their opponent and 10-12 otherwise.
» The Gators are undefeated when leading after six innings (41-0), seven innings (44-0) and eight innings (43-0), but only 1-15 when trailing after six, 2-14 when losing at the end of the seventh and 3-14 when down through eight.
» Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis, with 26 career strikeouts in NCAA competition, is seven away from tying the school record for most in the NCAA Tournament for a career (John Burke, 33, 1991-92). He is also two wins away from tying the school record the most career wins in the tournament (Tommy Boss, 4, 2002-05).
» Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker is two stolen bases away from tying the school record of in the NCAA Tournament (David Eckstein, 6, 1994-97).
» Junior second baseman Josh Adams and senior OF Jonathan Pigott are each three doubles away from tying the school record of career doubles in the NCAA Tournament (Jeff Corsaletti & Justin Tordi, 6, 2002-05 & 2003-05).
» Sophomores first baseman Preston Tucker and OF Tyler Thompson are each three home runs away from tying the school record of career homers in the NCAA Tournament (Mario Linares, 7, 1988-91).

KEEP AN EYE ON…
» Gators starting pitchers Panteliodis (10-2, 3.39), freshman Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.97) and freshman Brian Johnson (6-4, 3.97)…who have led the team from the hill this season with sterling performances and a combined 3.69 ERA.
» Freshman sensation Austin Maddox…a third baseman who can play three other positions, has garnered numerous awards while leading the Gators in RBI (71), multiple-RBI games (21), home runs (17) and sacrifice flies (five).
» den Dekker…a speed demon leading UF with a 23-for-30 conversion rate on stolen bases, he is tied for fifth on the program’s career list with 66 stolen bags and leads the 2010 team in batting average (.358), runs (64) and hits (86).
» Junior closer Kevin Chapman (3-0)…has a team-low 1.48 ERA (42.2 innings) in 30 appearances. He is tied for second in the SEC with 11 saves. As a team, Florida’s 18 saves are have tied the team’s single-season record (1991).
» The Gators bullpen…which is 17-2 with 18 saves and a 4.18 ERA in 243.1 innings, while its starters are a combined 30-13 with a 3.78 ERA in 304.2 innings.

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