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

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

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

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

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

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

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Florida baseball sweeps three-game series vs. LSU

No. 4/6 Florida Gators baseball (31-11, 15-6 SEC) swept three home games against the defending National Champion No. 24/15 LSU Tigers (32-13, 11-10 SEC) at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL, over the weekend. Area weather prevented the games from running smoothly, but the Gators did not let that deter them from three somewhat dominating victories.

The series opener on Friday night was suspended in the bottom of the fifth inning (rain) as Florida held a 7-0 lead; it would end with LSU piling on some runs but the Gators coming out on top 8-5 on Saturday. Sophomore Alex Panteliodis (7-2) got the start Friday, tossing five shutout innings with two strikeouts. Junior closer Kevin Chapman (S8) finished the job late Saturday, striking out two in 2.2 scoreless innings for the save.

Sophomore outfielder Tyler Thompson (3-3) and junior second baseman Josh Adams (1-3) each tallied three RBI, Adams’ coming off a three-run homer in the second inning.

In the middle of the opening game, Florida completed its first official win of the series with a 7-3 victory early Saturday afternoon. Freshman starter Hudson Randall (5-3) threw a career-high seven strikeouts in eight innings of work, though his first pitch of the game marked the 11th home run of the season for Tigers’ OF Mikie Mahtook (2-4). Senior OF Jonathan Pigott (1-2) led the way with two RBI for UF.

Sunday’s finale was all about power for the Gators. Senior OF Matt den Dekker (5-5) and freshmen third baseman Austin Maddox (1-3) and starting pitcher Brian Johnson (2-4) all hit moon shots, with Johnson recording his first career grand slam while picking up his fourth win of the season (4-2) in 6.1 innings. Both den Dekker and Johnson totaled four RBI on the day with Maddox picking up three of his own.

Though Florida remains one game back of No. 3 South Carolina (34-9, 16-5 SEC) in the Southeastern Conference standings, it has won five consecutive games against top-10 opponents and is now a sterling 23-3 at home in 2010. The Gators have won six of seven SEC series this season, winning five straight for the first time since 2005.

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FOUR BITS: tennis, baseball, softball, gymnastics

1a » No. 3 Women’s Tennis won 2010 SEC Championship Tournament
Over the weekend, the Florida Gators women’s tennis team (24-2) captured its 16th conference title in the last 23 years and first since 2006. It defeated the LSU Tigers (10-15) 4-0 on Friday before advancing to the finals to take on the No. 13 Tennessee Volunteers (16-8). Florida took down Tennessee 4-1 in the championship finale Sunday afternoon at the Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA. Senior Marrit Boonstra and freshman Allie Will were named to the All-Tournament Team.

1b » No. 6 Men’s Tennis fell in 2010 SEC Championship Tournament finale
Also fighting for a conference crown over the weekend was the men’s tennis team (19-4), which defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 4-1 Friday in semifinal action at Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, KY. The men moved on to the championship game Sunday but were swept 4-0 by the No. 2 Volunteers, who took home the title.

2 » No. 7/11 Baseball took three of four games last week
Beginning the week with a solid 18-8 defeat of the South Florida Bulls (17-20), Gators baseball (28-11, 12-6 SEC) finished out the week by winning two-of-three games at home against the No. 9/7 Arkansas Razorbacks (33-8, 13-5 SEC). UF dropped the opener 8-3 before evening the series with an 8-2 win Saturday and taking it home Sunday with a 2-1 victory.

3 » No. 4/4 Softball dropped two of three games last week
Florida softball (35-7, 15-4 SEC) was hoping for a chance to even out its week after dropping two of its previous three games; unfortunately, inclement weather on Saturday forced the team to cancel its series finale against No. 17/18 Tennessee (39-9, 15-5 SEC). The Gators began the week with a tough 8-3 home loss to the Florida International Golden Panthers (30-15, 11-5 Sun Belt) at Pressly Stadium on Tuesday. The ladies then split a weekend series with the Volunteers, winning game one 6-0 before falling 4-3 in game two at Lee Softball Stadium in Knoxville, TN.

4 » No. 4 Gymnastics fell at home in 2010 NCAA Championship
Gators gymnastics, a consistently great program that has been hoping for a NCAA Championship since it came in second in 1998, once again fell short of a title over the weekend, failing to come out on top during the NCAA Super Six team final in Gainesville, FL. The Florida women came in fifth place with a total of 197.00, behind the new NCAA Champion UCLA Bruins (197.725), second-place Oklahoma (197.25), third-place Alabama (197.225) and fourth-place Stanford (197.10). Utah (196.225) was the only team to finish behind UF). The match was the Gators’ ninth NCAA Super Six all-time and sixth in the last seven years.

Photo Credit:

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TWO BITS: UF throttles JU, Alexander wins title

1 » No. 8/9 Florida Gators baseball (21-7) handed the Jacksonville Dolphins (16-14) a licking Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium, powering their way to a 12-2 win. Senior outfielder Jonathan Pigott (1-3, two runs) and freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-4, one run) each hit two-RBI triples as freshman catcher Mike Zunino (2-2) scored three times. Sophomore starter Greg Larson (1-0) picked up the win after giving up two unearned runs in three innings; Florida relievers tossed six scoreless innings behind him to hold on to the victory.

2 » Senior golfer Tyson Alexander won his first individual event title Tuesday at the BancorpSouth Intercollegiate tournament as the No. 4/6 Gators finished in second place at the Reunion Golf and Country Club. Alexander finished the tournament with a season-low 205 (-11) on rounds of 63, 71 and 70, jumping senior teammate Tim McKenney (who finished in second place) by a single stroke in the final round for the win. As a whole, Florida finished with a team score of 847 (-17), just one stroke off of the tournament-winning North Florida Ospreys.

Extra BITS » Gators take home weekly awards:

Softball: Freshman Ensley Gammel named USA Softball National Player of the Week, SEC Pitcher of the Week (three wins, 15 innings, no runs allowed)
Lacrosse: Freshman Ashley Bruns named Nike/Inside Lacrosse Player of the Week, Rookie of the Week (eight goals, five assists)
Lacrosse: Freshman Sam Farrell named ALC Defensive Player of the Week (held Oregon’s Jana Drummond to one goal and two shots and held Penn State’s Jen Steadman to no shots)
Track & Field: Senior thrower Mariam Kevkhishvili named SEC Female Field Athlete of the Week (won women’s shot put at 66th Pepsi Florida Relays with nation-leading mark of 17.94m/58-10.25)
Baseball: Brian Johnson named SEC Freshman of the Week (first player from UF since Brad Wilkerson in 1998 to start in an SEC weekend series on the mound and also bat for himself)
Baseball: Sophomore pitcher Alex Panteliodis named to Honor Roll (held No. 20/17 Vanderbilt to one run in 6.1 innings with six strikeouts)

Photo Credit: GatorZone

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FOUR BITS: McNabb, baseball, softball, tennis

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

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

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

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FOUR BITS: David Lee, baseball, softball, lacrosse

1 » Former Florida Gators forward/center David Lee, now in the middle of an excellent career in the NBA with the New York Knicks, scored a season-high 37 points along with 20 rebounds and 10 assists Friday night for his first career triple-double. Though New York fell to the Golden State Warriors on the road, Lee made NBA history by becoming the first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to go 30-20-10 in points, rebounds and assists, respectively. Lee will be a free agent this summer, and it appears unlikely that he will return to the Knicks due to their decision to go after “bigger” names.

2 » Following a victory in their first game of the series, No. 8/11 Gators baseball (20-6, 6-2 SEC) clinched its weekend series against the No. 20/17 Vanderbilt Commodores (23-6, 4-4 SEC) with a 7-3 win Saturday at McKethan Stadium. Freshman starter Brian Johnson (3-1) controlled the entire game, pitching 5.2 innings of one-run ball while going 3-3 from the plate with a run. Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker went 2-4 with two runs, and sophomore OF Daniel Pigott nabbed three RBI with a two-run homer in the second inning. Game three of the series is currently underway (as of press time).

Read about softball’s doubleheader and lacrosse’s landmark victory after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: David Lee, baseball, softball, lacrosse

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FOUR BITS: Demps is fast, Andrews’ death threats

1 » Florida Gators freshman sprinter and junior running back Jeff Demps is fast. So fast, in fact, that the 10.11-second 100-meter dash he ran at the 66th Pepsi Florida Relays on Friday afternoon at Percy Beard Track is the fastest run in the world so far in 2010 (and it is not even the best time he has run in his life – 10.01 in high school. Demps won the 60-meter dash national title at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships and is hoping to add more titles to his resume in the outdoor season.

2 » ESPN sideline reporter and former Florida dazzler Erin Andrews, who is currently a contestant on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, has been the subject of death threats since the end of March, according to CNN. Andrews’ attorney, Marshall B. Grossman, says that radio talk show host Dan Patrick has been sent several threatening e-mails about Andrews beginning in September. The e-mails “were of a sexual nature but then turned violent” recently, according to Grossman. The FBI is already on the case and has identified the sender of the e-mails, per the Los Angeles Times.

Two more BITS on…No. 8/11 baseball, No. 3 women’s tennis and No. 6 men’s tennis all defeating Vanderbilt on Friday. Read more about these results…after the jump!

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Demps is fast, Andrews’ death threats

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No. 2/5 Baseball sweeps home series vs. MSU

No. 2/5 Florida Gators baseball opened their Southeastern Conference schedule this weekend, sweeping the Mississippi State Bulldogs in a three game series at McKethan Stadium. Taking down the Bulldogs (11-9, 0-3 SEC) by consecutive scores of 7-2, 5-4 and 4-1, the Gators (16-3, 3-0 SEC) will take on Florida Gulf Coast in the final game of their 11-game homestand before spending about a week on the road.

In the series’ first game, sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis (5-0) tossed a career-high 7.1 innings, only allowing four hits and two runs while registering three strikeouts. Florida put together a five-run sixth inning to take a commanding lead, with freshman designated hitter Austin Maddox (2-4) smacking a two-run double and hitting a solo home run. Sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (2-4) continued his hot streak by scoring two runs and homering for this third-straight game.

The following night, the Gators powered their way to victory with a four-run seventh inning rally that included sophomore outfielder Tyler Thompson (2-3) stealing home plate and Tucker (2-4, three RBI) hitting a two-run double. Sophomore Nick Maronde (2-0) entered in the seventh and picked up a win in 1.2 innings of work even though junior closer Kevin Chapman (S4) allowed two earned runs (he still recorded the save).

Having already clinched the series, Florida was looking to improve their record on Sunday, and a three-run dinger by Maddox in the eighth inning provided them with the series sweep. Chapman came in to relieve a tired Gators bullpen that suffered through 94 minutes of a rain delay; he threw 2.1 scoreless innings and totaled four strikeouts to pick up his first win of the season.

The weekend’s sweep was the team’s first against Mississippi State since 2002. Florida has matched its season-high five-game winning streak and received an elevation to No. 2 in the nation on Monday.

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