Florida baseball sweeps Alabama; Bruder helps Gators softball top Crimson Tide (twice)

Each competing against the Alabama Crimson Tide in Gainesville, FL over the weekend, the Florida Gators baseball and softball teams combined to defeat their opponent five of six times – all in exciting fashion. No. 5/5 Florida baseball outscored Alabama 18-3 over a three-day span, while No. 8/9 Gators softball won back-to-back games against the Crimson Tide after being shutout in the series opener.

BASEBALL

Coming off a tough road loss to Central Florida where head coach Kevin O’Sullivan emptied the bullpen, Florida upended Alabama 7-0 in the first game of the weekend series on Friday. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (7-1) continued to pitch with confidence, scattering four hits in 6.1 innings for the victory. After manufacturing a single run in the third inning, the Gators rallied to score a total of six in three consecutive innings. Junior first baseman Preston Tucker (1-5, HR, 3 RBI, R) and senior second baseman Josh Adams (1-4, HR, 3 RBI, R) hit a pair of homers, while sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (3-5, RBI) couldn’t be kept off the bases. Florida amassed 14 hits in the game and saw seven different players cross the plate.

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (6-1) got the call for the Gators on Saturday and, after allowing a single run in the first and solo shot in the top of the second, held the Crimson Tide scoreless for his final three innings to pick up the win. Junior RHP Greg Larson, sophomore LHP Steven Rodriguez and freshman RHP Keenan Kish combined to strike out six over the final four innings of the contest to solidify anther victory for Florida. The offense did their part to make Johnson feel comfortable early, rallying for pairs of runs in their first two frames to negate Alabama’s production. Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (2-4, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R) and junior pinch hitter Ben McMahan (1-1, HR, RBI, R) each hit homers and Adams (1-3, 2 RBI) continued his hot streak at the plate.

The Gators (31-10, 14-4 SEC) completed the weekend sweep by squeaking out a 2-1 victory over the Crimson Tide (25-18, 8-10 SEC) on Sunday. Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson(5-0) looked fantastic, striking out seven and only giving up three hits over 6.2 innings. Whitson held Alabama without a single run until his finally batter capitalized with two men on base to smack an RBI. He was promptly pulled for Rodriguez who, along with juniors RHP Anthony DeSclafani and LHP Nick Maronde (S2), closed out the victory for Florida. Fontana (3-4, 2 RBI) knocked in both runs, hitting a double to score junior right fielder Daniel Pigott (1-3, R) in the third and a single to help junior left fielder Tyler Thompson (1-2, R) cross the plate in the fifth.

With the three victories, the Gators have now defeated the Crimson Tide in eight of their last 10 meetings and can look ahead to a home series against Ole Miss next weekend.

SOFTBALL

Still fighting her way back from an arm injury, senior ace RHP Stephanie Brombacher (15-1) drew the start Friday but coughed up two runs (one earned) after tossing three shutout innings for her first loss of the season. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers, who had been handling the pitching duties in Brombacher’s stead, was roughed up in her four innings as well, striking out six but allowing three earned runs on three hits and three walks. Alabama starter Kelsi Dunne (21-2) looked strong in the effort, limiting Florida to only three hits in seven innings while striking out six.

Not allowing themselves to get down after such a tough loss, the Gators responded in a big way in the next two games, ending both with exciting finishes. Senior LF Kelsey Bruder, who has been nearly unstoppable at the plate recently, hit a walk-off three-run home run on Saturday followed by a walk-off infield single on Sunday (in extra innings) to send her team to two victories.

Brombacher got the call again Saturday, pitching 6.1 innings and striking out four but also allowing four earned runs. The Gators were faced with a 2-0 deficit early but rallied with back-to-back homers by senior 1B Megan Bush (1-2, HR, 2 RBI, R) and senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (1-2, HR, RBI, R) in the fourth inning to take a 3-2 lead. Brombacher allowed a solo shot in the fifth to tie the game and gave up a two-run bomb in the seventh to put the Crimson Tide ahead 5-3 before Rogers came in to get the final two outs. Florida benefited with a lead-off walk in the bottom of the inning, and junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (1-2, R, 2 BB) followed with a single through the right side to put the game-winning run at the plate. With one out, Bruder (2-4, HR, 3 RBI, R) hammered the first pitch she saw to pick up the win (see video below).

Bruder’s weekend heroics were not done, however, as she came through in the clutch once again on Sunday. Rogers and Dunne each pitched fantastic games on the day, holding shutouts through regulation. A fielding error in the top of the eighth allowed two Alabama batters to score, but Florida rallied to tack on two runs (including a RBI by Bruder) in the bottom of the inning to keep the game going. After Rogers (25-5) retired the side one-two-three in the top of the ninth to complete the longest outing of her career, Bruder (2-5, 2 RBI) found herself back at the plate with the winning run in scoring position. On a 1-0 count, she smacked a single to second base to score freshman SS Cheyenne Coyle (1-4, R) from third and give the Gators (40-8, 15-7 SEC) an impressive extra innings victory over the Crimson Tide (42-7, 16-6 SEC).

Florida will get a week of rest before jumping on the road to face South Carolina in a three-game weekend series. The Gators will then play four-straight home games to end the regular season the following week.

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Gators baseball, softball each win weekend series

Both suffering through some midseason struggles, Florida Gators baseball and softball each won their respective three-game series over the weekend. No. 4/4 Florida baseball (28-9, 11-4 SEC) won two of three in Athens, GA, while No. 10/10 softball (37-7, 13-6 SEC) swept a three-game road series in Auburn, AL.

BASEBALL

Coming off a hard-fought 3-1 loss to Florida State, the Gators were faced with the tough test of facing another rival on the road just a few days later. Florida rebounded, defeating the Georgia Bulldogs 5-4 in Friday’s contest behind a solid effort from sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (6-1). Randall allowed three runs (two earned) but tossed 6.1 innings for UF before giving way to three relievers. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Steven Rodriguez came through with his second save of the season after striking out the final batter. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-5, R), junior right fielder Preston Tucker (2-4, RBI, R) and junior left fielder Daniel Pigott (2-3, RBI) each connected twice, but sophomore first baseman/reliever Austin Maddox (3-4, 2 RBI, R) led the way offensively with a two-RBI single to center in the sixth.

The Gators were not as lucky Saturday, falling 7-2 to the Bulldogs after junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani (4-2) blew a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning. Relieving sophomore LHP Brian Johnson (6.0 IP, 4 K, ER), DeSclafani got one out before walking the next batter, giving up two hits and intentionally loading the bases before being pulled. Senior second baseman Josh Adams (3-3, BB) hit two singles and a double but his teammates were never able to capitalize.

Wrapping up the series, Florida watched as Tucker took over Sunday’s contest with an absolutely explosive performance. Down 7-6 to Georgia through six innings, UF jumped on the back of Tucker, who came through in the clutch. He hit home runs in back-to-back innings in one of the best performances all season for the Gators. Tucker (2-4, 6 RBI, 3 R) hit a two-run moon shot in the seventh and grand slam in the eighth to propel his team to a 14-7 victory over the Bulldogs (19-18, 9-6 SEC).

Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson (5.0 IP, 5 K, 3 ER) got the start but lost his opportunity at a win when junior LHP Alex Panteliodis coughed up four earned runs on four hits without recording a single out in his relief appearance. Junior RHP Greg Larson (1-1), pitching the final 3.2 innings of the game, recorded the win striking out one and scattering five hits. Other top-notch offensive performances came from Fontana (1-3, RBI, 2 R, 2 BB), sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (3-4, 3 R, BB), Maddox (3-4, RBI, 2 R, BB) and DH Johnson (3-4, 3 RBI, R).

SOFTBALL

Rebounding from a six-game losing streak with seven-straight wins, Florida softball outscored the Auburn Tigers (32-12, 11-9 SEC) 35-10 over the weekend beginning with an impressive 14-4 victory early Saturday.

Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers earned the victory in a complete game performance due to an impressive rally by her offense over the final four innings. Down 4-1 through three, the Gators scored 13 runs in the last four frames including five in the seventh. Junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (2-5, 3 RBI, R), senior LF Kelsey Bruder (2-4, HR, RBI, 2 R), senior 1BMegan Bush (2-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB), senior C Tiffany DeFelice (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB) and freshman SS Cheyenne Coyle (2-2, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB) all showed major power with a combined five home runs.

Coming back out for the second game of the Saturday doubleheader, Florida saw the return of ace senior RHP Stephanie Brombacher. Out since March 12 (bicep), Brombacher (15-0) did not throw her normal complete game effort but earned the win by striking out four and only allowing one earned run in 4.2 innings. Rogers (S2) got the save while Bruder (2-5, HR, 2 RBI, R), sophomore RF Brittany Schutte (3-3, R, BB), Coyle (2-3, HR, RBI, 2 R, BB) and sophomore designated hitter Kelsey Horton (2-2, RBI) did the heavy lifting for the team offensively.

Rogers (22-5) completed the weekend with two victories and a save, earning her second win Sunday in yet another complete game performance. The Gators’ bats were alive once again as the team connected for eight total home runs. Senior 2B Aja Paculba (2-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R), Bruder (3-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R), Schutte (2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R), DeFelice (1-3, HR, RBI, R, BB), Horton (1-4, HR, 2 RBI, R) and freshman third baseman Kasey Fagan (2-4, HR, RBI, 2 R) all connected to earn Florida the series sweep.

Bruder ended the weekend 7-13 with three homers, five RBI and four runs, while Coyle was an outstanding 5-7 with three homers, five RBI, seven runs and five walks.

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FOUR BITS: Weis on Brantley, Sweeting wins

1 » Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was a guest Monday on ESPN‘s First Take. He spoke about a number of topics (see video) but also discussed recruiting redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley out of high school. “I’m a drop-back, pro-style offense guy. John really fit that bill. He was your prototypical drop-back quarterback. He could sling it; he could make every throw. He was very, very productive [in high school],” he said. “I thought he would have been a great fit for us. He had a lot of family ties at the University of Florida that kept him at Florida. I’m glad he made that choice because right now we get a chance to work together.”

2 » After dropping the series opener 5-7, No. 4 Gators baseball (26-7, 9-3 SEC) achieved back-to-back victories over the weekend to take a three-game road series against the Mississippi State Bulldogs (21-11, 5-7 SEC). Outscored 5-7 on Friday, Florida rebounded with consecutive 18-0 and 3-1 victories on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (5-1) picked up his first loss of the season in the first game after giving up six earned runs in only 2.1 innings. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (5-1) and sophomore LHP reliever Steven Rodriguez (2-1) picked up victories in the final two contests. Standout performers included sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (6/12, GS, 6 RBI, 6 R, 2 BB), senior second baseman Josh Adams (5/14, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB) and sophomore first baseman Austin Maddox (5/14, 2 RBI, 2 R).

3 » No. 10/11 Gators softball (33-7, 10-6 SEC) ended a six-game losing streak with a three-game sweep of the Arkansas Razorbacks (10-32, 1-18 SEC) at home over the weekend. Florida outscored Arkansas 20-1 in the dominant fashion they finished opponents off the majority of the season. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers (19-5) tossed three complete games, scattering 12 hits while striking out 23 batters. Unlike recent outings, Rogers had plenty of run support from her teammates with a trio of seniors – 1B Megan Bush (3/9, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R), 2B Aja Paculba (5/9, 5 RBI, R, 2 BB) and left fielder Kelsey Bruder (4/9, 3 RBI, 4 R, BB) – leading the way.

4 » Former Gators tennis player Ryan Sweeting won his first ATP title over the weekend, defeating the field in the 2011 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, TX. He jumped more than 20 spots in the ATP rankings to No. 71 in the world after winning the final match 6-4, 7-6.

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Florida baseball sweeps; softball gets swept

Both marred in slumps in Southeastern Conference play, Florida Gators baseball and softball took divergent paths over the weekend. Breaking out of the doldrums, the No. 3/4 baseball team improved to 24-5 with a three-game sweep of the Tennessee Volunteers at home, while No. 5/5 softball lost their sixth-straight game and fell to 30-7 after being swept over three contests by the No. 23/24 Kentucky Wildcats on the road.

BASEBALL

After going 1-3 from March 25-29, Florida (24-5, 7-2 SEC) rebounded and outscored Tennessee (19-9, 2-7 SEC) 23-3 over a three-game period to recapture the form they’ve had most of the season.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (5-0) took the mound Friday for the Gators and pitched his second-straight complete game to lead his team to a 3-0 victory. Randall’s complete game shutout was Florida’s first since 2004; he struck out four and only gave up four hits in the contest. Sophomore first baseman Austin Maddox (1-4, HR, 2 RBI, R) got the Gators on the board early with a two-run homer in the bottom of the second, and sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (1-4) scored on a wild pitch in the eight to notch UF’s only other run of the day.

Florida’s offense exploded on Saturday as sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (3-4, 6 RBI, R, BB) continued his fantastic season by knocking in six runs and collecting a trio of hits on the afternoon. Joining him with great performances at the plate were junior left fielder Daniel Pigott (2-4, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB) and senior second baseman Josh Adams (2-2, 2 R). Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson started the game for the Gators but was pulled after giving up two earned runs on four hits with five strikeouts in 5.1 innings. He was replaced by junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani (4-0), who collected the victory in 2.2 innings of work.

UF’s performance Sunday mirrored their effort Saturday as they thwarted UT 9-1 to complete the three-game sweep. Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson (4-0) got the Gators started by striking out six in 5.0 inning to earn the win; Florida used four relievers to complete the game. Maddox (3-3, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB) piled on the runs at the plate and was backed-up with great performances by Fontana (2-4, 2 RBI), Zunino (1-3, 3 R, 2 BB) and Adams (1-3, 2 RBI, BB). Already up 4-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Gators scored five additional runs in the frame to put the game out of reach for the Vols.

SOFTBALL

On a three-game losing streak after being swept by Georgia one week ago, Florida (30-7, 7-6 SEC) continued to flounder over the weekend as Kentucky (25-7, 11-3 SEC) outscored them 26-10 over the course of three games in Lexington, KY.

Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers was lit up Friday as she allowed 11 hits and 10 earned runs while striking out six. She did not receive much help from her teammates as the Gators only crossed the plate twice on a pair of solo homers from senior LF Kelsey Bruder (1-3, HR, RBI, R) and sophomore C Brittany Schutte (1-3, HR, RBI, R).

Rogers’s struggles continued Saturday as she gathered her second loss after allowing six earned runs – including three in the opening frame – on nine hits in six full innings. UF actually lead 6-3 after putting up a five-run fourth inning, but Rogers let UK retake the lead by scoring four runs in the bottom of the inning. Senior second baseman Aja Paculba (1-4, HR, 3 RBI, R) put up most of Florida’s runs, but sophomore pinch hitter Samantha Holle (1-1, 2 RBI) and senior first baseman Megan Bush (1-4, RBI) drove in the others.

The weekend came to a rough conclusion Sunday with Rogers (16-5) dropping her fourth-straight decision by letting the Wildcats rock her for nine earned runs on seven hits. The Gators were doomed from the start as their opponent scored eight runs in the bottom of the first inning and held on for the victory. Florida’s only offense came in the top of the fifth when Paculba (1-4, 2 RBI) hit a two-run double with one out.

Why is the softball team struggling? In addition to Florida’s bats going cold (they were averaging 12.2 runs per game in the six contests prior to the start of their losing streak), the team is forced to continue pitching Rogers while dealing with the loss of senior ace RHP Stephanie Brombacher, who has been sidelined since March 12 with a multitude of arm injuries. UF has plenty of time to right the ship with 18 games (including 12 at home) remaining until SEC postseason competition begins on May 12.

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UF baseball, softball struggle in rough weekend

Both holding high national rankings going into the weekend, Florida Gators baseball and softball each faltered over a three-day stretch, combining to drop five of six games to a pair of top-tier Southeastern Conference opponents

OGGOA has compiled short summaries of each of the weekend contests below as well as information on what the two teams have ahead of them this week.

BASEBALL

Facing the No. 4 South Carolina Gamecocks (18-5, 4-2 SEC) at McKethan Stadium over the long weekend in Gainesville, FL, No. 1 Florida (21-4, 4-2 SEC) was topped 9-2 in Friday’s opener and edged 4-3 in the series finale on Sunday. In between, the Gators took a hard-fought 2-1 victory on Saturday.

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (4-1) dropped his first decision, allowing six earned runs on eight hits and a pair of walks in 5.1 innings on Friday. He gave up four runs in the top of the third and was pulled in the top of the fifth before additional damage could be done. Florida was scoreless until the bottom of the ninth, when senior second baseman Josh Adams and junior pinch hitter Jeff Moyer knocked in runs.

The Gators were engaged in a pitching duel Saturday with sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (4-0) tossing the first complete game of his career as the team took a 2-1 decision. Randall struck out four and did not allow a single earned run in the outing. Forrest Koumas and Matt Price combined to give up only three hits and a single unearned run for the Gamecocks, striking out eight UF batters in the process. Sophomore center fielder Kamm Washington (1-2, HR, RBI, 2 R) crossed the plate twice for Florida, initially scoring after being hit by a pitch and sacrificed home by sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (0-3, RBI).

Florida did themselves in on Sunday, coughing up a 3-0 lead and eventually losing 4-3 due to miscues and poor pitching. Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson got the start for the Gators and pitched well, striking out five and giving up an earned run on two hits and a pair of walks. Relievers junior Nick Maronde and sophomore Austin Maddox each gave up unearned runs in the sixth, and junior Tommy Toledo (2-2) allowed South Carolina to score the game-winner in the eighth. After allowing the lead-off batter to hit a double and hitting the next man with a pitch, Toledo threw an intentional walk to load the bases and walked in the winning run on a full count. Washington (1-3, RBI, R, BB), Adams (0-3, RBI) and freshman third baseman Zack Powers (1-3, RBI) all knocked in runs for Florida while sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (3-4, R) did the best he could.

SOFTBALL

Though they undoubtedly tried, softball performed even worse than baseball did over the weekend. The No. 2 Gators (30-4, 7-3 SEC) were swept at home at Pressly Softball Stadium by the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (27-4, 8-3 SEC) and were outscored 28-13 over the three games. With star senior RHP Stephanie Brombacher (bicep) on the bench since March 12, freshman RHP Hannah Rogers and sophomore RHP Ensley Gammel struggled against one of the best offenses in the nation.

Down 6-0 in the fifth on Friday, Florida exploded with a six-run frame including home runs from senior first baseman Megan Bush (2-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R), freshman SS Cheyenne Coyle (1-3, HR, RBI, R) and senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder (2-3, HR, 3 RBI, R). Bush homered again in the sixth to put the Gators ahead 7-6, but Gammel gave up two homers and four runs in the top of the seventh to blow the lead. She pitched a complete game but gave up 10 earned runs on 12 hits and nine walks in the outing.

Gammel (0-2) produced a similar performance just one day later, allowing 10 earned runs on seven hits and 10 walks in five innings. In addition to being down 6-5 through six, the Gators allowed seven runs in the top of the seventh to put the contest out of reach. Senior 2B Aja Paculba (2-4, HR, 2 RBI, R), Bruder (2-4, RBI, R), Bush (0-3, RBI) and sophomore C Brittany Schutte (1-3, RBI) all hocked in runs for Florida.

Rogers (16-2) tried her hand at the Bulldogs on Sunday but also failed in her efforts, tossing a complete game but giving up five earned runs on nine hits. Georgia led the entire way, outscoring UF 5-0 until Bush (1-3, HR, RBI, R) hit her third homer of the series in the bottom of the fifth.

The Gators will look to rebound from their disastrous weekend with a number of contests over the next week. Baseball will take on Florida State in a rubber match on Tuesday in Jacksonville, FL prior to taking on Tennessee in a three-game weekend series at home, while softball will face South Florida on Wednesday before heading to Lexington, KY for a three-game series against Kentucky over the weekend.

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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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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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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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