Tag:College Baseball
Posted on: February 23, 2010 12:09 am
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Bleacher Bum: USF Game Three

Written by Allen Delaney, Baseball Guru for Gatorsfirst.com

Florida sweeps the South Florida in dramatic fashion with a walk off hit in the bottom of the 10th. Mike Zunino (PH/C) knocked a two out single into right field to score Tyler Thompson (PH/LF) from 2B and win 7-6. This was only the final act of a game that got dramatic late. After USF scored 5 runs in the top of the 8th to take the lead, Florida scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th to force the extra frame.

UF took a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Matt den Dekker (CF) led off with a single. Josh Adams drew his fourth walk of the series. Both runners advanced on a 4-3 groundout by Preston Tucker (1B) that drew 2B Chad Taylor toward 1B and prevented a double play. After an Austin Maddox strikeout, Daniel Pigott (RF) singled to drive in both runners. Pigott stole 2B, and scored on a Bryson Smith (3B) single. Smith was caught stealing to end the inning.

After that the Gator bats got very quiet as UF went three up three down in the 2-5th innings. In the 6th four batted after a Tucker single with two outs. USF starter Andrew Barbosa (0-0) went 6 innings, allowing 5 hits and only the 3 first run innings while striking out 4. Florida did manage to load the bases in the 7th with only one out against RHP Matt Stull. After a pinch hit walk by Thompson, a PH 4-6 fielder’s choice by Jerico Weiztel (PH/3B) erased Thompson. Then a PH single by Kamm Washington (PH/RF), and a walk by Nolan Fontana (SS) loaded the bags. Zunino struck out swinging and Stull was relieved by LHP Teddy Kaufman. Kaufman got den Dekker to ground out on a 6U fielder’s choice.

USF only had 5 hits through the 6th, as the Florida starter RHP Anthony DeSclafani (0-0) pitched into the 5th, allowing only 4 hits with 4 strikeouts. However, after allowing back to back singles to Jimmy Falla (1B) and Chad Taylor (2B), RHP Kevin Chapman (0-0) came on and induced a 1-6-3 double play from Ryan Lockwood (CF) to end the threat. LHP Stephan “Paco” Rodriguez (0-0) allowed a hit by Stephen Hunt (RF) in the 6th but nothing else.

In the 7th RHP Jeff Barfield (0-0) started the inning and struggled. Eric Sim (C) led off with a double. After an Alex Mendez (DH) strikeout, Falla doubled to score Simm. Taylor flew out to center, and Barfield was replaced by Nick Maronde (0-0). Maronde got Lockwood to lineout to center to end the inning.

Then the trouble began. Junior Carlin (LF) led off the 8th with a bunt single that was popped up, but over the head of the charging Maronde and in front of Fontana at short. Sam Mende (SS) drew a walk. Hunt ripped a double to score Carlin and move Mende to 3B and make the score 3-2.

At this point head coach Kevin O’Sullivan had seen enough and brought in RHP Greg Larsen (0-0). Jonathan Koscso (3B) and Sim singled to score Mende and Hunt respectively and take a 4-3 lead while closing the book on Maronde. Sean Buckley (PH) then hit his second pinch hit double of the weekend off the wall in left to score Koscso and move Sim to 3B.

Sully was back off the bench to yank Larsen and replace him with RHP Justin Poovey (0-0). Poovey got a RBI fly out to right by Falla that scored Sim and made the score 6-3. He then struck out Taylor, walked Lockwood, and got Carlin to pop up to short as the Bulls batted around in the inning. The total damage was 5 runs and the lead. Maronde was on the books to take the loss.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Gators had the heart of their order up and one thought they needed to get at least a run to have a chance. After Adams and Tucker were quickly retired on a 1-3 comeback and a fly to left, Maddox hit a long fly over the left center field fence. In an eerily similar moment and in almost the exact same spot as yesterday, Lockwood climbed the fence and robbed Maddox of a home run. Two games, two jacks by Maddox, two stolen homers by Lockwood. This ended the inning, and one thought probably the game as well, as USF came charging into the dugout high fiving while the Gators dejectedly took the field.

Poovey retired the side in order, which got Florida back to the plate quickly.

Thompson started the inning innocently enough when he popped out to short. Hampton Tignor (PH) was the third different player to bat in the seven hole (Smith and Weitzel were the others), and drew a walk. Washington hit a single off Kaufman with two strikes that died on the infield grass after striking the pitcher’s leg. Fontana then hit a seeing eye single past a diving Taylor at second to load the bases.

South Florida pulled Kaufman and replaced him with RHP Kevin Quackenbush who got Zunino to strike out for the second time in a row with the bases loaded. Down to Florida’s final strike, den Dekker singled to plate Tignor and Washington and trim the deficit to 6-5. Fontana, the tying run, moved to third on the play. With runners on the corners, Quackenbush walked Adams to load the bases. Tucker hit a sharp grounder that Mende could not handle cleanly at short, and the throw was late to first. The two out error allowed Fontana to score from 3B and tie the game. Showing great poise, Quackenbush got Maddox to ground out to end the inning.

USF threatened in the top of the 10th. Sim led off with a single, but was erased at 2B on a 1-6 fielder’s choice by Buckley. He advanced to 2B on a single by Falla. Todd Brazeal (PH) grounded into a 6-4 fielder’s choice to erase Falla and put runners on the corners with two outs. LHP Alex Panteliodis was called in from the bullpen and got Lockwood to strike out swinging.

In the bottom of the 10th, Thompson led off with a walk. Jandy Rosabal (PH) was the fourth player of the day to bat in the six hole, and was called out after his two strike bunt attempt rolled foul. Washington then laced a ball down the third baseline that Koscso did a great job of knocking down, or the game might have ended then. As it was, the single moved Thompson into scoring position. Fontana flew out to left to set the stage. With two outs and two on, Zunino came to the plate for the third straight time in a big situation. The previous two times with the bases loaded, Zunino had struck out. This time he lobbed a single down the first baseline into shallow right that allowed Thompson to score easily. As Thompson crossed the plate, the team poured out of the dugout and mobbed Zunino at the edge of the infield near 1B.

What a great way to win. This gives the Gators tons of momentum moving out of the first weekend. They were able to get a ho hum victory, a blowout victory, and a come from behind late victory all in the same weekend. These moments always help down the road as your team knows it is never out of a game. With the bats Florida possesses, a last at bat comeback will always be possible for this team. It was really going to be a downer if UF had outplayed USF for 25-27 innings on the weekend and only went 2-1. The 9th inning rally and subsequent win was deserved, as UF was the better team all weekend save the top of the 8th inning on Sunday.

Monday and Tuesday are off this week before the Gators play a bullpen testing five games in five days. Wednesday against Central Florida, Thursday against Siena, and a three game weekend series next week against La Salle should get everyone on the team some work this next week. This is a deep team, and will need it. Florida will need to get two or three quality starts in those five games to keep from working the pen too much.

You can find the team's offical stats for the year here for those of you that are stat junkies. See you Wednesday at the Mac.

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Posted on: February 22, 2010 11:57 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2010 12:03 am
 

Bleacher Bum: USF Game Two

Written by Allen Delaney, Baseball Guru for Gatorsfirst.com

Consistent scoring paced the Gators past the Bulls 9-1 Saturday, as UF scored in 5 of the 8 frames they batted in. The victory wins the series with USF, which hopefully by the end of the year will be a solid RPI opponent. The RPI counts series wins, so even if the Bulls win on Sunday, Florida will receive credit for winning the series. The offensive tide was barely kept in check at the start of the game, as Florida loaded the bases with the first three batters.

Matt den Dekker (CF) led off with a double. Josh Adams (2B) and Preston Tucker (1B) were both walked. USF starter Ray Delphay (0-1) avoided disaster by striking out freshman Austin Maddox (DH) looking, inducing a pop up to short by Tyler Thompson (LF), and getting Bryson Smith (3B) on a swinging strike three.

The Gators did not have to worry about the missed opportunity; their pitching commanded the day. Florida starter Brian Johnson (1-0) went 5.2 innings, only gave up 3 hits, and had 3 strikeouts. The freshman southpaw was pulled with a 3-0 lead in the <sup></sup> 6th after allowing a bases empty two out single to Sam Mende (SS) . RHP Hudson Randall (0-0) relieved and induced a 6-4 fielder’s choice by Todd Brazeal (1B) to retire Mende and end the inning. Randall then pitched a scoreless<sup></sup> 7th.

LFP Kevin Chapman (0-0) walked Jonathan Koscso (1B) but allowed nothing else in a scoreless<sup></sup> 8th before yielding to RHP Michael Heller in the 9th. Heller allowed a single to Brazeal but erased him on a comeback 1-6-3 double play from Junior Carlin (LF). Pinch hitter Sean Buckley hit the Bulls only extra base hit of the day by doubling to left. Andrew Longley (C) singled Buckley in to break the shutout before Chad Taylor (2B) flew out to left to end the game.

In the first eight innings no more than four Bulls batted in an inning. In contrast Florida only had two innings where four or less batters saw the plate as the Orange and Blue bats were active all game. The Gators totaled 9 runs on 10 hits in only 8 innings of work.

Tucker led off the third with a single and advanced to 2B on a wild pitch. After Maddox struck out swinging, Thompson singled in Tucker for a 1-0 lead. Thompson was then caught stealing and Smith struck out looking to end the frame.

Kamm Washington (RF) led off the 4th with a solo home run to right. It was the second career at bat for the freshman, and first career hit. Nolan Fontana (SS) was then hit by a pitch, but it did not appear retaliatory. Fontana advanced to 2B on a passed ball during Mike Zunino (C) strikeout, and advanced to third on a 1-3 ground out by den Dekker. With two out SS Mende made an error allowing Adams to reach 1B and Fontana to score from 3B . Tucker singled. Maddox then hit a ball over the left center field wall that was brought back for an out by Ryan Lockwood (CF) to retire the side.

Fontana was in on the action again after he led off the 6th with a walk. Zunino doubled to score Fontana, but was called out trying to advance to third on a “you don’t see everyday” 7-3-5 play after the Carlin overthrew 2B on the throw in. None of the Umpires had moved to cover third on the play leading to a tense moment where the men in blue all looked at each other for the call. Home plate Umpire Manuel Salazar took the initiative and ruled Zunino out on what appeared to be the correct call.

Maddox started the 7th with the second home run in as many career games. Had it not been for the spectacular play by Lockwood in the 4th it would’ve been Maddox’s second homer in as many at bats. His blast made it 5-0 .

The Gators crushed any hopes of a 9th inning comeback in the bottom of the 8th. Zunino flew out to start the inning. Then the wheels fell off. den Dekker singled followed by walks from Adams and Tucker. This brought up Maddox to a resounding cheer, but he struck out swinging. Thompson then came through with his second hit, a bases clearing double to give him 4 RBI on the day and push the score to 9-0.

This was a great team performance by the club today. They were dominant on both sides of the ball and took the game to the Bulls. This locks up the series and gets the season off on the right foot. USF is a quality opponent who should make noise in a not so tough Big East.

The Gators will go for a sweep tomorrow, which is still a very important game. Every win and loss gets looked at by the NCAA committee at the end of the year and sweeps look good. This is a team that has aspirations of a trip to Omaha. A national seed makes that a lot easier and they need to win as many nonconference games as they humanly can. There are ten SEC series. Sweeps in the SEC are hard, and they will lose a series or two because everyone is good. A 20-10 record in SEC play would probably win the conference, as LSU and Mississippi tied for the conference regular season crown with that record a year ago. The Gators play 56 regular season games. You usually have to have 40 or more wins to get a national seed. Since we know there will be losses in the SEC, the Gators can’t afford to lose many nonconference tilts. With FSU and scUM series always hotly contested you can expect 2+ losses in those seven games, as for damn sure UF would take 5-2 in those seven if you offered.

A long story short, win tomorrow. See you at noon.

Editor's Note: You can see Allen's writeup of Game 1 (Friday night) here .

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Posted on: February 22, 2010 11:54 pm
 

Bleacher Bum: USF Game One Recap

Written by Allen Delaney, Baseball Guru for Gatorsfirst.com

Josh Adams powered the Gators on Friday night, as they cruised to a 6-2 victory over the South Florida Bulls. Adams hit 2 monster home runs and a RBI double while going 3-3 with a walk and 4 RBI, while freshman Austin Maddox hit an opposite field 2 run homerun in his first collegiate at bat.

 

*I will write out most numbers ten and under as grammatically correct, but statistics will be numeric. Just in case you are wondering why there are both 2's and threes*

 

Randy Fonanez started for USF and took the loss, pitching 6.2 innings allowing 7 hits, 6 runs all earned, while walking 3 and striking out 5. He was relieved by Teddy Kaufman who pitched 1.1 innings, allowing 1 hit while striking out 2.

Tommy Toledo started for the Gators and lasted only 3.1 innings, not enough to earn a decision (a starter must go 5 to qualify), and left after 71 pitches. Toledo allowed 1 unearned run on 3 hits, walking 2 while striking out 4. Coach Kevin O’Sullivan had said prior to the game Toledo would be on around a 70 pitch count and pulled him two batters into the fourth inning.

Alex Panteliodis relieved and earned the victory, pitching 3.1 innings himself allowing 1 run on 3 hits, walking 1 while striking out 3. He was replaced by Greg Larsen , who pitched 2.1 innings of 1 hit, scoreless baseball to earn the save. Larsen struck out 2.

Florida jumped to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first in only four batters. Matt den Dekker singled in the first Gator at bat of the season. Adams followed and hit a no doubt, towering, 2 run home run on a 3-1 count. den Dekker deserves an assist here, as he induced 4 throws over to first to keep Fonanez distracted. Preston Tucker batted third and drew a 5 pitch walk. Maddox belted the second pitch he saw as a collegian over the right center field fence for a 4-0 lead.

Florida threatened in the third after Adams walked and was retired on a Tucker fielder’s choice. Maddox hit a ball to third that was misplayed by Jonathan Koscso , but ruled a hit, the first of two decisions by the official scorer I did not agree with. As the ball rolled into left field, Tucker was alert to the fact no one was covering third and advanced unopposed. With runners on first and third and only one out, Fonanez was able to strike out Tyler Thompson before Daniel Pigott attempted a bunt for a hit on the first pitch and bunted it straight to first baseman Todd Brazeal to retire the side.

UF scored again in the fifth when Adams hit his second homerun of the day on the first pitch of the at bat. This bomb was even further than his first homer, with no one on and one out. This was a massive shot down the line in left that had those in the left field bleachers craning their necks and looking toward the O-Dome trying to figure out where it landed.

The Gators closed out their scoring in the seventh. After Fonanez quickly retired shortstop Nolan Fontana and catcher Mike Zunino on a popup to left and a strikeout respectively, den Dekker singled on the first pitch of his at bat. Adams laced the first pitch he saw into the gap, driving home den Dekker all the way from first on a stand up RBI double.

South Florida scored in the top of the third when Stephen Hunt reached second on an error by Thompson in left field. Sam Meade sacrificed to move Hunt to third. Brazeal then grounded out to Tucker at first to drive in Hunt as an unearned run.

USF scored their other run in the top of the fifth. After Koscso struck out looking, Hunt hit a slow chopper back to Panteliodis on the mound who dropped the ball on what appeared to be an easy play. This too was ruled a hit, the other decision by the official scorer I did not agree with. I felt both plays should’ve been ruled errors. Mende then hit a standup double that scored Hunt easily from first.

This was a good first win of the year over a team that should contend for their conference crown. A concern was some sloppy ball handling on defense, as the Gators made two errors, a dropped ball in left and a catcher’s interference. UF also made (failed to make?) several other plays that could have been ruled errors. The Panteliodis bobble and drop mentioned above, and a play in the second inning where Adams bobbled a ground ball and then made a throw off the bag at second base allowing everyone to be safe. The grounder was sharply hit as Adams mainly knocked the ball down, and the play would’ve been bang bang at second, so I can live with the hit scoring here. Fontana also bobbled a ball at short that had double play potential, but was able to get the fielder’s choice at second after gathering himself. Of course since the double play is never assumed, this just goes down as FC 6-4, even though our eyes know an out was lost.

Tomorrow’s game is at 2PM, so my suggestion would be to head to one of the restaurants near midtown for the second half of the Gator basketball game which starts at noon. That way you can quickly high tail it into McKethan sometime in the first inning. As for me, I’ll listen to the final few moments of Billy Ball on a pocket radio while watching freshman Brian Johnson get his first career start for the Gators. See you at the park!

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Posted on: January 28, 2010 9:18 pm
 

Gator Baseball 2010 Preview Part 1

Written by Allen Delaney, Baseball Guru for Gatorsfirst.com

We are less than a month away from the first pitch of the Gators 2010 baseball season so as the Gatorsfirst.com’s resident hardball analyst, I’ve ordered my season tickets and will be doing updates throughout the season with (hopefully) some interview material.

The UAA has currently crimped my access slightly by refusing my request for a press pass, but I’m thinking someone as resourceful as yours truly will find a way to get a quote or two. This is apparently a school wide policy on providing media passes only to websites affiliated with a traditional outlet such as a newspaper or television station.

Leading off is a look at the schedule. Part two about the players will be out in a few days.

I’ll do an in depth preview of each opponent as the season progresses, this is more of a quick overview. The NCAA has changed the length of the baseball season several times in the last decade. This season an extra week was added back, which means less weeks with two weekday games.

The last several seasons there were games almost every Tuesday and Wednesday. After a two game midweek series against Illinois State in games 13 and 14, Florida plays only one midweek opponent each week the rest of the year.

Like most southern and western (read: warm weather) teams the Gators play the majority of their games at home, with 34 of their scheduled 56 games played on Perry Field at McKethan Stadium. Florida opens with an eight game home stand beginning with a three game set, February 19-21 (HINT OPENING DAY IS 2/19) versus the University of South Florida . Florida plays four games total against the Bulls this season; traveling to Tampa on Wednesday, April 21st in a midweek tilt between the road series at Kentucky and the home series against Arkansas.

Central Florida and Siena stop through town for single games in the first two midweek games of the season Feb 24-25. The Gators swept Siena to open the 2008 campaign in a three game series. For the 2nd year in a row UF host an Atlantic 10 opponent for a three game series early in the season. Last season it was Duquesne, who the Gators fought and swept 10-5, 5-3, and 12-2.

On an unrelated but sad for the sport note, Duquesne is discontinuing their baseball program after 2010. Hopefully the Orange and Blue can pull off the sweep of La Salle on Feb 26-28th without the help of a benches clearing brawl .

Florida’s first game away from the friendly confines of McKethan is a neutral site game against Florida State in Tampa. For the last several years, the FSU series was three games: one game in Tallahassee, one in Gainesville, and one in Jacksonville.

This season adds a fourth game in “The Florida Four” at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. This is a two game event on March 2nd that sees Miami play South Florida at 4PM, and FSU and Florida play at 8PM.

The first true road games of the year follow, as the three game Miami series is in Coral Gables this year from March 5th to the 7th. I miss the schedule from my youth that saw weekend rivalry games the first four weekends of the season. With the two game series at both FSU and UM, and two game series versus each at home, fans got to see two of their biggest rivals every year.

This schedule changed this slightly in 2001 (dropping a game with FSU) and dropped completely in 2002, instead going to a 3 game home and away alternating yearly series with Miami, and eventually making the FSU series the midweek series spread out over the course of the year it remains today.

After the quick four game road jaunt, UF returns home to play the aforementioned series with Illinois State March 9-10th, followed by a three game series with Charleston Southern on the 12-14th. FSU comes in to play game two of the season series in Gainesville on Tuesday, March 16th as a final tune up before SEC play begins. The rest of the non conference games are against Florida schools.

The Gators shouldn’t have to worry about RPI or strength of schedule since they have plenty of ranked and almost ranked opponents on the docket. The interstate matchups should be great games since the Collegiate Baseball News preseason top 40 poll rankings list FSU at #7, Florida at #9, Miami at #12, USF #35 and Florida Gulf Coast at #38.

The Gators play a single midweek game against Florida Gulf Coast on March 28th, for a total of 12 games against ranked in state opponents. UF also plays single games against Central Florida (Feb 24th), Jacksonville (April 6th), Bethune-Cookman (May 4th), Florida Atlantic (May 12th), and North Florida (May 18th).

Some of those other Florida schools are no slacks either. Jacksonville, UCF, and BCC received votes in the preseason poll, putting them somewhere in the top 100. Also influencing the overall strength of schedule is the strength of the SEC as a baseball conference. All 12 SEC schools are either ranked (6) or received votes (6) in the preseason poll.

There are 286 D1 baseball teams in case you were wondering. To put that in perspective (how everything is judged in the South), using percentages to compare, all 11 ranked opponents would be in the top 16 in the football poll, and all the schools receiving votes in the top 40. Who says Florida needs to travel to play a hard schedule (sound familiar)? So 45 games out of 56 games will be against the top third quality competition, meaning this club will be battle tested by the time the post season rolls around.

The SEC schedule appears to have broken well for the Gators as they play four of six preseason ranked opponents in Gainesville. Auburn rotates off the SEC schedule this season.

March 19-21 Mississippi State
March 26-28 @ #22 Mississippi
April 2-4 #32 Vanderbilt
April 9-11 @ Tennessee
April 16-18 @ Kentucky
April 23-25 #23 Arkansas
April 30-May 2 #2 Louisiana State
May 7-9 @ Alabama
May 14-16 #31 Georgia
May 20-22 @ #28 South Carolina

The make or break stretch of the season lies from April 9th to May 2nd. Florida plays eight straight road games against Tennessee (3), FSU (1), Kentucky (3), and USF (1). We already talked about how good FSU and USF should be, mixed in with two SEC road series. This is followed by Arkansas and LSU, six of the hardest home games of the season.

Anything 8-6 or better should be looked upon as success in this stretch. Why 8-6? This would probably mean the Gators won a midweek game, and 3 of the 4 SEC series. Getting sweeps and getting swept on weekend series is usually rare, so win two out of three in three SEC series, one of three in the other, and a split of the weekday games versus ranked teams would be 8-6. Anything else on top is cake.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com