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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Tied with six left, Florida baseball hopes to rise up

The weekend served as a primer for No. 4/6 Florida Gators baseball (33-11, 17-6 SEC), which had hoped to take control of the Southeastern Conference with a sweep of the Alabama Crimson Tide (28-19, 9-14 SEC). Instead, Florida only took two of three games, leaving themselves tied with South Carolina atop the SEC standings.

After earning a 9-3 win Friday, the Gators clinched their sixth-straight series with a 14-8 victory in the second game of the three-game weekend at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL. It was Florida’s season-high seventh-straight win and the first time any SEC Eastern Division opponent had defeated Alabama at home since 2004 (just the second time since 1995).

Freshman designated hitter Brian Johnson (2-3) scored two runs while jacking a grand slam; freshman catcher Mike Zunino (2-4) nailed a three-run homer, and sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (3-5) added a solo shot with two RBI. Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis (8-2) tossed six innings for the win.

The Gators were unable to put away the Crimson Tide on Saturday, allowing Alabama junior shortstop Josh Rutledge (3-5) to power his team with a career-high six RBI for their only victory of the series. Sophomore reliever Anthony DeSclafani (2-3) picked up the loss for Florida, but Johnson’s start and subsequent six runs allowed in 3.1 innings of work was the main reason for the loss.

UF and USC (36-11, 17-7 SEC) will now duel it out over their last six conference games (two series) to determine who will take home the regular season crown. And considering the two teams will face-off in the final three games of the season in Columbia, SC, there is a possibility that the championship may be played for in the season finale on May 22.

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SIX BITS: Baseball, softball, track, tennis, golf, lax

1 » No. 7/9 Florida Gators baseball split the remaining two games of its away series against the Kentucky Wildcats, winning 6-3 Saturday night before falling 6-5 on Sunday. The Gators (25-10, 10-5 SEC) clinched their first series win in Lexington, KY, against the Wildcats (22-14, 5-10 SEC) at Cliff Hagan Stadium since 2004. Saturday, sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (1-4) led the way with three RBI, while freshman designated hitter Austin Maddox (3-5) collected two runs. Freshman Hudson Randall got the start, but sophomore reliever Greg Larson (2-1) earned the win on 3.2 no-hit innings. Tucker went 2-5 Sunday, but Florida and sophomore Anthony DeSclafani (2-2) fell to Kentucky in the series finale.

2 » No. 3/4 softball also took a series win against UK over the weekend, winning two out of three games from Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Junior first baseman Megan Bush went 3-6 during the doubleheader on Saturday with a grand slam, while sophomore outfielder Michelle Moultrie contributed a 5-6 performance with two runs and a double. Junior Stephanie Brombacher and freshman Ensley Gammel (10-1) pitched, earning a win and loss, respectively. Gammel would also earn her fourth save in the first game. The Gators (34-5, 14-3 SEC) clinched the series Sunday against the Wildcats (27-18, 11-11 SEC) with senior OF Francesca Enea (2-3) grabbing two RBI and her 58th career home run. She is now within two of the all-time SEC record of 60. Brombacher (23-4) tossed a complete game for her second win of the weekend.

Four more BITS on track & field, tennis, golf and lacrosse…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Baseball, softball, track, tennis, golf, lax

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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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No. 6/8 Gators baseball tops No. 5/4 Seminoles 8-5

Squaring off for the second of four times over the course of the season, No. 6/8 Florida Gators baseball (13-3) avenged a 10-5 loss on March 2 in Tampa, FL, taking down the No. 5/4 Florida State Seminoles (13-3) 8-5 at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Freshman starter Hudson Randall was knocked around for five runs in the game’s first two innings with his biggest mistake coming on a three-run home run by FSU outfielder Mike McGee in the top of the first. Florida responded with a two-run shot by junior second baseman Josh Adams in the bottom of the inning, but Randall would give those back in the top of the next frame. He would eventually settle down and pitch two shutout innings before being pulled.

The Gators’ answered back with a run in the third and three more in the fourth to permanently take the lead. Sophomore Nick Mardone (1-0) picked up the win with two hitless innings in relief as junior closer Kevin Chapman (S3) continued his hot streak by grabbing a three-inning save.

The top of Florida’s order – senior OF Matt den Dekker (3-5), Adams (2-4) and sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (2-3) – combined to go 7-12 with seven RBI and four runs. Freshman OF Kamm Washington went 3-3 in the eight hole, scoring every time he stepped on base.

Gators baseball will continue its 11-game home stand with a three-game series against the Mississippi State Bulldogs to open Southeastern Conference play. The series begins Fri., March 19 and continues through the weekend.

Photo Credit: Tricia Coyne/Gainesville Sun

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FOUR BITS: Smith & Perry, baseball, WNIT berth

1 » As OGGOA reported via Twitter over the weekend, former Florida Gators and NFL star running back Emmitt Smith has announced that he asked Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to induct him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, Smith was not worrying about his acceptance speech over the weekend, as he teamed with other former Gators and celebrities including head coach Urban Meyer to raise money for his former fullback and still close friend Darryl Perry‘s charity – Miracle of Life Foundation. “Darryl led me back then and he leads me now,” Smith told the Orlando Sentinel. “Except now he leads me with his heart.”

2 » After postponing a series last week due to inclimate weather, No. 6/7 Florida baseball (12-3) snuck a game against Army Black Knights (5-4) into the schedule Monday night. Playing at home at McKethan Stadium, the Gators earned a 9-3 victory as sophomore starter Anthony DeSclafani tossed a season-high 5.2 innings. Sophomore designated hitter Preston Tucker went 1-5 with his first home run of the season and three RBI, while freshman first baseman Austin Maddox (2-5) drove in two runs and senior reliever Jeff Barfield (S2) picked up the save on 3.1 innings of work.

3 » Shut out of the NCAA Tournament after posting a 14-16 record on the season, the Gators women’s basketball team has been invited to compete in the 2010 Women’s National Invitation Tournament. Florida will host first-round action, facing the South Florida Bulls (15-15) on Thursday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Bulls are defending WNIT champions, defeating the Kansas Jayhawks 75-71 in the 2009 event.

4 » Former Ball State Cardinals head volleyball coach Dave Boos has been named assistant coach of Gators volleyball , head coach Mary Wise announced to the press on Monday. “I am very excited to join the Gator volleyball family,” Boos said in a release. “I’ve had the opportunity to coach with and against Coach Wise during my career and have the utmost respect for her and how she has built Florida volleyball. I am looking forward to working with one of the top coaching staffs in the country and assisting in the guidance of a tremendous group of student-athletes.”

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FOUR BITS: Meyer, baseball, softball, lacrosse

1 » Participating in a charity golf tournament over the weekend for former Florida Gators fullback Darryl Perry, head coach Urban Meyer left a strong impression on his colleagues about his health and his thoughts on the future of his former quarterback, Tim Tebow. “I feel good and I’m ready to go,” Meyer told Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel about his health. As to Tebow: “I think there’s too much emphasis on [workouts and the combine],” he said. “Think about it: he’s the leading passer in the history of SEC, won 22-straight games and has won two national titles and the Heisman [Trophy], and some people are saying, ‘I wonder if he can play in the pros.’” For what it’s worth, former Gators defensive end Jack Youngblood (a friend of Meyer’s) added his feelings on the coach’s health. “Urban can’t wait to get back out there and coach,” he said.

2 » In the second game of a three-game weekend series. No. 6/7 Florida baseball (11-2) defeated the Charleston Southern Buccaneers 16-10 on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. The Gators powered their way to a six-run sixth inning, which led them to victory. Sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (3-6, two runs) earned a season-high five RBI, freshman designated hitter Austin Maddox was 4-6 with two runs, junior third baseman Bryson Smith (2-4) nabbed two RBI and three runs and freshman catcher Mike Zunino (1-4) drove in a career-high four runs. In relief, sophomore Justin Poovey (1-0) allowed only one run over 2.1 innings for the victory, and senior Jeff Barfield tossed two scoreless innings for the save.

3 » Looking to make an impact in its first Southeastern Conference doubleheader of the season, the No. 4/11 Gators softball team (17-3, 1-1 SEC) split a series with the Ole Miss Rebels (16-9, 3-1 SEC) at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. In the first game, Florida earned a 12-2 victory in five innings before falling 6-4 in an eight-inning second game. Junior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (4-5) led the team with four RBI, three runs, a home run and two walks in the series. The Gators picked up their first home loss in quite some time (27 straight wins), as junior starter Stephanie Brombacher (13-3) earned a win and a loss in each respective game. She totaled nine strikeouts.

4 » Still looking to gain footing in their inaugural season, Florida lacrosse (3-3, 0-1 ALC) fell to Johns Hopkins (4-3, 1-0 ALC) on the road in their first conference game. Freshman midfielder Kitty Cullen scored three goals in the contest. The Gators return to Gainesville, FL, for a three-game homestand beginning Wednesday against Marist.

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Baseball completes three-game sweep of USF

Defeating the South Florida Bulls 6-2 Friday night in its 2010 season opener, No. 7/9 Florida Gators baseball had the task of facing them two more times before the weekend was out. Florida (3-0) followed through, taking down USF (0-3) 9-1 on Saturday and coming from three runs down to win 7-6 in extra innings Sunday at McKethan Stadium.

Read all of the details about each game and plenty more after the break!
Continue Reading » Baseball completes three-game sweep of USF

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