Florida moves on with 7-2 win over USC

Faced with elimination in the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament, No. 2 Florida Gators baseball fought to play another day, defeating the No. 4 South Carolina Gamecocks 7-2 on Friday evening at Regions Park in Hoover, AL.

Junior left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (7-4) was the king of the hill for Florida, going the distance for the first complete game of his career while allowing just two earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts and no free passes.

The Gators gave Johnson a nice cushion offensively from the get-go, scoring in each of the first three innings and extending their lead with a three-run top of the fifth.

Florida (42-17) rallied for one run each in the first and second and used a two-run homer by junior catcher Mike Zunino (1/3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, SB, BB) in the third to jump ahead 4-0. UF’s lead extended to 7-0 in the fifth after USC walked in a run and freshman second baseman Casey Turgeon (2/4, 2 RBI, R) followed by smacking a two-RBI single.

South Carolina (40-17) was able to plate one run in the sixth and another with two outs in the ninth but was otherwise held scoreless by Johnson and the defense behind him.

With the victory, the Gators advance to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. Florida will face Vanderbilt on Saturday at approximately 4:30 p.m. live on Comcast Sports South. UF fell to VU 2-1 on Thursday, ending a seven-game winning streak the Gators had on the Commodores dating back to last season.

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Vanderbilt sends Florida down with 2-1 loss

The Vanderbilt Commodores topped No. 2 Florida Gators baseball 2-1 on Thursday at Regions Park in Hoover, AL, sending Florida to an elimination game on Friday as the Gators hope to advance on in the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Florida (41-17), which had a seven-game winning streak against Vanderbilt (32-25) dating back to last season snapped on Thursday, will face No. 4 South Carolina on Friday. The winner will move on to face the Commodores on Saturday, while the loser will go home and prepare for the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

After three scoreless innings , junior right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall struggled in the bottom of the fourth, giving up consecutive walks on eight-straight balls and allowing Vanderbilt designated hitter Riley Reynolds to hit a two-run triple to the gap in center that cleared the bases and gave the Commodores an early 2-0 lead.

UF started the contest 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base over the first six innings. The Gators finally got on the board in the top of the seventh when junior shortstop Nolan Fontana (1/3, R, BB) singled, advanced to third on an error from a pick-off attempt and was brought home two batters later on a sacrifice fly by senior right fielder Preston Tucker (0/3, RBI, BB).

That was the only offense Randall (5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, K, 2 BB) got from his Florida teammates as he fell to 7-2 on the season in 13 starts.

The Gators registered just four hits on the evening, were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 of 11 base runners over the course of the evening.

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Florida tops Auburn in SEC Tournament opener

No. 2 Florida Gators baseball (41-16) continued their winning ways over the Auburn Tigers (30-27), outscoring their opponents 6-1 in the opening round of the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Tuesday at Regions Park in Hoover, AL.

Florida just concluded the 2012 regular season with a three-game series at Auburn last Thursday-Saturday. The Gators picked up two wins over the Tigers and outscored their hosts 20-6 over the three-day period.

UF sophomore right-handed pitcher Jonathon Crawford was excellent in his outing, improving to 5-2 by allowing just one run (unearned) on two hits with four walks and a career-high nine strikeouts in 5.2 innings. Junior lefty Steven Rodriguez, senior RHP Greg Larson and junior closer Austin Maddox combined to toss the remaining 3.1 innings, allowing a single hit while striking out two and walking one.

Freshmen batters provided most of the offense for Florida on Wednesday. Left fielder Justin Shafer (2/4) drove in three runs (two in the second, one in the sixth), and second baseman Casey Turgeon (1/3, R) smacked a two-run double in the sixth. The Gators also got a RBI from junior catcher Mike Zunino (1/4), whose two-out double extended UF’s lead to 6-1 in the seventh.

Florida will have a day off before facing a yet-to-be-determined opponent on Thursday.

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Florida squeaks by Georgia 3-2, will play for title

Forced into an elimination game when the Georgia Bulldogs (31-30) beat them earlier in the afternoon, No. 3 Florida Gators baseball (44-16) scored a run in the top of the ninth to break a tie and advance to the finals of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament with a 3-2 win Saturday evening at Regions Park.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson got the start for Florida but gave up a run each in the bottom of the first and second. The Gators knotted the game at 2-2 just one inning later, when sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana hit his fourth home run of the year with junior left fielder Daniel Pigott on second base.

Whitson was pulled after 5.1 innings but Florida held Georgia scoreless for the duration of the contest. The Gators took advantage of a base runner to start the top of the ninth when redshirt sophomore designated hitter/first baseman Vickash Ramjit (1-4, R) doubled to right center. He advanced to third on Pigott’s (0-1, R, 2 BB, 2 SB) sacrifice bunt and scored two batters later when Fontana (1-5, HR, 3 RBI, R, SB) reached on a fielder’s choice to second base.

Sophomore RHP Austin Maddox was called on to pitch the bottom of the ninth; he allowed one hit but struck out two to earn his fifth save of the season, giving junior RHP Tommy Toledo (4-3) the victory.

With the victory, Florida will take on No. 4 Vanderbilt (47-9) on Sunday at 2 p.m. for the title. The Gators return to the SEC Tournament Championship for the first time since 2000 and have not won since 1991.

Junior RHP Alex Panteliodis (4-2, 4.65 ERA) will take the mound and match up against Vanderbilt’s Taylor Hill (4-0, 3.16 ERA). Florida was 2-1 in a regular season road series at Vanderbilt May 13-15, defeating them 6-5 and 6-3(12) but falling 14-1 in between.

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No. 4 Gators eliminated: Alabama tops Florida 5-2

No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (42-15) was eliminated from the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament Saturday after falling 5-2 to the Alabama Crimson Tide (37-21) on Saturday at Regions Park in Hoover, AL.

The seven-inning game, previously decided to be shortened due to weather, represented Florida’s second loss of the double-elimination tournament.

Gators sophomore starter Tommy Toledo (3-2) allowed four earned runs in the first three innings and left the game two outs later. Three Florida relievers held the Crimson Tide scoreless throughout the rest of the game, but the staff was no match for Alabama’s Adam Morgan (6-4), who only gave up two earned runs in a complete game effort.

Senior outfielders Matt den Dekker (1-3) and Jonathan Pigott (1-3) recorded Florida’s only two RBI, leading the way on offense.

The Gators now await an official announcement from the NCAA set to come Sunday at 3:30 p.m. regarding whether or not McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL, will be one of 16 hosts for 2010 NCAA Regional action beginning on June 4.

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SIX BITS: Baseball wins, Baker OK, seven Gators qualify, tennis updates, lacrosse rookie of year

1 » Faced with elimination, top-seeded No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (41-4) rode past the No. 12 Arkansas Razorbacks (40-18) 5-4 in the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday at Regions Park in Hoover, AL. Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis (9-2) picked up the win, tossing 6.2 innings, striking out five and giving up three earned runs. Junior closer Kevin Chapman earned his 11th save of the season, though he did give up a run in the ninth and final inning of the game. Freshman third baseman Austin Maddox (2-4) led the way with two RBI, and freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-3) scored two runs. Florida will face Vanderbilt (41-16) in the second elimination game of the tournament Friday evening, airing live at ESPN3.com.

2 » Still making touchdowns – but now for the Jacksonville Sharks of the AFL – former Gators wide receiver Dallas Baker was faced with an injury scare Saturday night in a 46-44 win over the Cleveland Gladiators. “I thought I tore something,” Baker told The Florida Times-Union. Instead Baker, who scored twice during the game before falling to the turf, suffered a sprain according to an MRI exam after the game. He is second on the team this season with 416 yards and nine touchdowns in five games played.

Four more BITS on track & field qualifiers, tennis’ NCAA wins and losses and a Gator winning Rookie of the Year…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Baseball wins, Baker OK, seven Gators qualify, tennis updates, lacrosse rookie of year

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FOUR BITS: Baseball falls; two tennis Ws, one L

1 » Coming into the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament on a high after winning the SEC regular season title, No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (40-14) was brought down a notch with a 10-6 loss to the defending national champion LSU Tigers in first-round action at Regions Park in Hoover, AL. LSU starter Anthony Ranaudo (4-2) gave up five earned runs in 7.2 innings but still outdueled Florida freshman Brian Johnson (5-4) who was lit up for seven earned runs in just 3.2 innings. Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (2-5) led the way for the Gators with three RBI and a home run, but his efforts were not enough to stop the Tigers’ offensive onslaught. The loss marked only the second time all season Florida fell in back-to-back games; it did not remove them from the tournament, which is double-elimination. The Gators will compete Thursday in an elimination game that will air live on CSS and online at ESPN3.com.

2 » Though the Florida men’s tennis team was ousted early in the 2010 NCAA National Championship, individual players are still competing for singles and doubles titles. On Wednesday, No. 8-seed junior Alexandre Lacroix won his first-round match in straight sets (6-1, 6-1) over No. 104-ranked Charles Bottoni of East Tennessee State at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA. Lacroix will move on to face No. 32-seed Bassm Beidas of Pepperdine on Thursday. He will actually participate in two matches Thursday, also teaming with senior Antoine Benneteau in doubles competition.

3 » Members of the National Championship runner-up Gators women’s tennis team were not afforded much rest as two were already back in action Wednesday. No. 7-seed freshman Allie Will (47-4) won her first-round singles match against Washington State’s Liudmila Vassilieva easily (6-1, 6-1), advancing to the second round on Thursday.

4 » On the other hand, Will’s classmate Lauren Embree (32-6), who led Florida on Tuesday, surprisingly fell in her singles match. She lost 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 to California’s Mari Anderson and was bounced from the tournament. Both women will compete alongside seniors Marrit Boonstra and Anastasia Revzina in doubles action Thursday.

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