No. 10 Florida Gators (28-9, 9-6 SEC) rebounded from last week’s disappointing road trip (1-3 vs. Florida State and Missouri) by displaying an abundance of offense and sweeping its four-game homestand against the Stetson Hatters and South Carolina Gamecocks. Florida scored in every inning of its 22-2 win over Stetson on Tuesday. Gamecocks pitchers did not fare much better against the Gators as UF outscored USC 38-10 in the series (14-3, 12-5, 12-2) to notch its first SEC sweep of the season.
Here are five takeaways from Florida’s near-flawless week:
1. Binging on taters: Freshman catcher JJ Schwarz made this week one he will never forget with four home runs in five at bats on Tuesday night against Stetson. But that wasn’t enough for the rookie slugger, as he punished South Carolina pitchers for three more round-trippers over the McKethan Stadium fences during the weekend series. Schwarz is one of many college players enjoying the NCAA’s new baseball with modified seams, which was introduced this year. A recent report showed a 39 percent increase in home runs this season as of April 1. Even with the inflated numbers, it’s noteworthy that Schwarz’s seven round-trippers this week tops the six home runs hit last season by former catcher Taylor Gushue to lead the Gators.
Just 34 games into his collegiate career, freshman catcher JJ Schwarz on Tuesday accomplished something no player in the 101-year history of Florida Gators baseball had before when he smacked four home runs in a single game against the Stetson Hatters.
Schwarz, who entered Tuesday’s contest batting .277 with five homers and 30 RBI on the season, jettisoned the ball out of the park in each of his first three at bats. In his fifth turn at the plate, he rocketed a fourth ball over the McKethan Stadium wall, becoming the first Florida baseball player – and second Southeastern Conference player (Bill Sandry, Kentucky, 1982) – to crush four home runs in one game.
No. 5 Florida Gators baseball (21-5, 3-3 SEC) bookended the last week with high notes but ran into some trouble in the middle games, going 3-2 against the Florida State Seminoles, Ole Miss Rebels and Stetson Hatters in its last five games.
Florida began the seven-day stretch with a 14-8 win over No. 11 FSU, the Gators’ fifth straight win against its in-state rival. UF then dropped its series opener 4-1 to Ole Miss and lost the first game of a Saturday doubleheader 5-2 before claiming a 8-4 victory in the series finale to hold off a sweep. The Gators then ended their short road swing with a rally-aided 9-6 win against Stetson on Tuesday in Deland, Florida.
Here are five takeaways from the last five games:
1. It starts with pitching: In Florida’s two losses at Ole Miss, its starters put the team in an early hole on the road, which spells trouble at every level of baseball. For the second week in a row, sophomore right-handed pitcher Logan Shore (3-2, 2.48 ERA) has given up at least one home run in the first inning. Against Tennessee last week, Shore settled down to pitch five more frames; this time, Shore (3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, WP) was unable to get through four innings. Sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk (4-2, 4.73 ERA) struggled even more. Puk (2.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 2 WP) was unable to make it out of the third inning of the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, ensuring another long day for the bullpen.
No. 5 Florida Gators softball (48-11) is one step closer to making its sixth Women’s College World Series appearance in seven years after closing out a sweep of the Gainesville Regional with a victory on Sunday.
Breezing through its first two opponents at Pressly Softball Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, UF shut out the Central Florida Knights (43-18) in the regional final on Sunday, winning 7-0 and advancing to the Super Regional portion of the 2014 NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in an eight-year span.
Gators junior right-hander Lauren Haeger (7.0 IP, 5 H, 5 K) tossed a five-hit shutout in Sunday’s finale to pick up her 10th win of the season and drop her ERA to a team-best 1.57. After giving up back-to-back singles to open the bottom of the first, Haeger calmed down and retired the next 11 batters, only scatting five singles in the contest.
But her contribution to Florida’s win extended much further than the pitcher’s circle. Haeger (1/5, HR, 3 RBI, R) blasted her team-leading 19th home run of the season — a one out, two-run shot in the first inning — which was also her third homer in as many games during the Gainesville Regional.
From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.
» Though President Barack Obama‘s official 2013 NCAA Tournament bracket will be released on Wednesday at 9 a.m. on ESPN, the network released his Final Four late Tuesday night. President Obama chose the Florida Gators to win the South Region and also has Louisville, Indiana and Ohio State advancing to the Final Four.
» Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah had a hellacious experience during his team’s game on Monday evening. With 5.7 seconds left in overtime and Chicago trailing Denver by a single point, Noah got in perfect position underneath the basket and tipped in what otherwise would have been a missed shot. Though Noah scored the apparent game-winner and the referees did not call interference on the play, they checked the replay and eventually reversed their decision. The problem? Referees are only allowed to use replay to review on-court calls of interference, not to check on non-calls. Take a look at the video below to see what transpired on Monday.
Considering so much has gone on over the past week in regards to the Florida Gators, the OGGOA Week In Review returns for its second edition. (Yes, it covers an eight-day period, but let’s just all agree to ignore that.) Be sure to check out all of the posts that have been written this week just in case you happened to miss a thing or two.
» An in-depth look at former Florida head coach Urban Meyer going to the Ohio State Buckeyes was published in the latest edition of The Silver Lining. The 3,500-word piece looks at Meyer’s decision from every possible angle (some tidbits you will not find elsewhere are included) and provides you with all the information you need in order to draw your own conclusion.
» Following Florida basketball’s loss to the No. 3/4 Syracuse Orange, former Gators forward Adam Allen posted the latest edition of Allen’s Alley, explaining in what areas Florida has room for improvement.
While Al Michaels and Bob Costas are discussing the Denver Broncos improving to 6-1 this season with quarterback Tim Tebow starting, former Gators wide receiver now NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth does the Gator Chomp. (Thanks to OGGOA follower Chaz.)
» While on the media teleconference to officially accept the bowl bid, Gators head coach Will Muschamp confirmed Marotti’s departure, said sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley will undergo surgery on his ACL Wednesday and discussed a number of other topics relating to the bowl game.
» Florida four-star running back recruit Mike Davis (Stone Mountain, GA) decommitted from the Gators after a significant miscommunication with the coaching staff and completely eliminated UF from his list.
» It was determined that junior forward Erik Murphy did not tear his meniscus but rather had a deep bone bruise and may be able to return for the Arizona game on Wednesday.
» Despite it being a close game throughout, the Gators fell to the Orange 72-68 on the road in Syracuse, NY. Junior G Kenny Boynton started slow but finished with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting.
» Following Florida’s loss to Syracuse, Donovan pointed to turnovers, poor rebounding and players missing in action as the reasons why UF struggled. Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario was benched during the contest because Donovan was not pleased with where his head was at heading into and during the game.
Despite some coaching news that may have hit Florida Gators fans the wrong way earlier in the day, Gator Nation had an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of head basketball coach Billy Donovan Monday evening.
Donovan picked up the 400th victory of his head coaching career as No. 9/10 Florida (5-1) routed the Stetson Hatters (3-3) 96-70 in the second annual Florida Citrus Sports Shootout at Amway Center in Orlando, FL.
Donovan became the youngest active coach with at least 400 Division I victories with the win but gave all of the credit to the talented players he has coached over the years.
Freshman guard Brad Beal led the way for a Gators with the best performance of his young career, notching his second double-double including career-highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds. He shot 50 percent from the field, beyond the arc and at the line, blocked three shots, grabbed two steals and accounted for two assists for Florida.
As has been tradition this season, the Gators started hot out of the gate and used an impressive 20-4 run including four threes to take an early 38-16 lead.
The Hatters answered quickly by posting 13-straight points as UF went on a 4:36 scoring drought, but Florida responded by hitting six free throws and a three-pointer to end the half on a 9-0 run and take a 47-31 lead on Stetson into the break.
Though the Gators maintained a comfortable lead in the second half, the Hatters were relentless on both ends of the floor.
Florida hit nine threes to start the game but went 10:53 through the half without knocking another in from downtown. Senior point guard Erving Walker finally connected on a trey with 11:52 remaining, marking a school record six-straight games in which the Gators have hit at least 10 triples.
Despite the back-and-forth play, Florida pulled away in the end and took a game-high 26-point lead on a three by Walker with under two minutes to go.
Walker finished with 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting (3-for-7 from three) with five assists. Junior G Kenny Boynton, who struggled early in the game, added 13 points and was just 3-for-8 from downtown.
Sophomore center Patric Young was tagged four quick fouls and scored just nine points, but sophomore forward Will Yegeute picked up the slack with his first career double-double of 10 points and 11 boards. He started his second-straight game in place of junior F Erik Murphy, who remains out of action with a tear in his meniscus.
The Gators also got quality minutes from sophomore G/F Casey Prather, who scored five points and picked up two steals but was the first player in over a year to foul out of a game for Florida.
UF shot just 45.3 percent from the floor and 40 percent from downtown but hit 70 percent of their free throws. The Gators outrebounded the Hatters 40-33 (14-5 on the offensive glass), stole the ball 12 times, forced 17 turnovers and only gave the ball up nine times. Stetson was held to just 1-of-18 shooting (5.6 percent) from three and hit 40.7 percent of their shots from the field.
Florida will face their second top-five ranked opponent this season when they travel to face No. 3/4 Syracuse on Friday. The game will air live at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
Florida Gators men’s basketball has agreed to participate in its fourth event of the 2011-12 season, announcing Thursday that they will face the Stetson Hatters in the second annual Florida Citrus Sports Shootout at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL
It will be the second-straight season the Gators will be playing in the game; Florida lost to Central Florida 57-54 last year.
UF will begin next season by participating in the five-team Global Sports Shootout along with Ohio State, North Florida, Jackson State and Wright State. The event is a collection of games played at different arenas. Florida will face Ohio State on the road, Wright State at a neutral site (Tampa, FL) and both North Florida and Jackson State at home in Gainesville, FL.
The Gators will square-off against Syracuse in Syracuse, NY as part of the 2011 BIG EAST/SEC Challenge on Dec. 2 and are also set to participate in the 2011 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, FL on Dec. 17.
TBD – vs. North Florida – Global Sports Shootout (Gainesville, FL)
TBD – vs. Jackson State – Global Sports Shootout (Gainesville, FL)
Nov. 15 – at Ohio State – Global Sports Shootout (Columbus, OH)
Nov. 21 – vs. Wright State – Global Sports Shootout (Tampa, FL)
Nov. 28 – vs. Stetson – Florida Citrus Sports Shootout (Orlando, FL)
Dec. 2 – at Syracuse – BIG EAST/SEC Challenge (Syracuse, NY)
Dec. 17 – vs. TBD – Orange Bowl Basketball Classic (Sunrise, FL)
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