Sunday was a great day to be a Florida Gator. The softball and baseball teams both scored early and often to advance in their respective tournaments. In baseball, Florida (48-17) scored all 11 runs in the first three innings to over power Miami (38-23), 11-4. The Hurricanes earned the privilege of playing the Gators after they beat Jacksonville (37-24) 6-3 earlier in the day.
Florida advances to a school-record third straight Super Regional and has now beaten Miami eight straight times. Alex Panteliodis, who started in place of the injured Brian Johnson, pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing one run and four strikeouts. Preston Tucker was named the Gainesville Regional Most Outstanding Player batting .500 three home runs, three doubles, six runs, and 11 RBI. Tucker became the first Gator to win the award twice, also receiving MOP honors in 2009.
To the highlights...
In the top of the third, the Gators sent 12 batters to the plate, scoring eight runs on seven hits. In what I think was a questionable call, SEC Player of the Year Mike Zunino laid down a bunt (instead of swinging away) that Miami's Encinosa errantly threw to third base, allowing Smith to score. Tyler Thompson hit a two-RBI double single to chase Encinosa out of the game after only 2 1/3 innings. 'Canes reliever Javi Salas didn't have much more luck when Daniel Pigott greeted him with an RBI double, scoring Thompson. Fontana lifted a sacrifice fly to score Vickash Ramjit. Tucker came through again with a two-run double to push the lead to 11-0. The eight run outburst matched a season high achieved against (fittingly enough) Mississippi State on April 9.
Chantz Mack put the Hurricanes on the board with a solo shot in the seventh, chasing Florida starter Panteliodis.
The eighth inning proved to be most fruitful for Miami, scoring three runs on four hits. Rony Rodriguez and Brad Fieger had RBI singles and Mack popped a sac fly to cut the lead to the final score of 11-4.
Florida batted .409 during the Gainesville Regional and didn't commit an error. They also put six players on the Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team. Zunino, Fontana, Thompson, Pigott, and Panteliodis joining MOP Tucker to fill out the team.
The Gators will now host Mississippi State (37-23) in the Super Regionals. The three-seeded Bulldogs surprised top-seeded Georgia Tech in the Atlanta Regional for the right to face the Gators in the best-of-three series. Florida took two of three from Mississippi State in Starkville earlier in the season, outscoring the Bulldogs 26-8. Game times will be announced tonight.
Post tournament interviews below for your viewing pleasure.