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Gator Baseball Charges Into Danger At Miami

Tuesday night, the Gators were manhandled by FSU 10-5, with UF allowing seven runs in the first inning. Earlier that same night, Miami defeated USF 15-2. This weekend in Coral Gables, Florida (5-1) faces Miami (6-1) in another top-10 matchup for the Gators.

The series can be a good measure of how good the Gators will be. In 2005, UF won 2 of 3 in the series and finished second in Omaha. They swept the Canes in 2006 and missed the tournament. Last season, UF was swept in Gainesville, but won two against Miami in the regionals during a rebuilding season for UM. 

The Canes always seem to have a great catcher and Yasmani Grandal is carrying on that tradition. He had nine RBI and 10 hits in 26 at-bats. Grandal is supported by 3b Harold Martinez (10 RBI, 3 HR) and OF Chris Pelaez (13 hits in 20 AB). The Canes have an experienced staff, which they did not alway have last season. Friday night's starter is junior southpaw Chris Hernandez, who led UM in wins last season. Hernandez beat the Gators in the first meeting of 2009, but took the lost in the first regional game. UF sophomore Alex Panteliodis gets the ball on Friday. He was 0-1 in two appearances against UM in 2009, pitching 10.1 innings and allowing seven runs on 16 hits. 

Saturday, the Canes run out senior righty Jason Santana, who allowed two runs on four hits in four innings against UF in 2009. The Gators put stud freshman Brian Johnson on the bump, who pitched 5.2 innings of shutout ball in his only start on Feb. 20 against USF. 

Sunday starter, Tommy Toledo, faced the Canes in Coral Gables in 2008. He had a no decision, pitching five innings and allowing two runs on four hits. He faces UM's Eric Erickson, who like Toledo, missed all of 2009 with arm surgery.

As a team, the Gators are hitting well (.333). But Preston Tucker can make this lineup go and he hasn't done it yet. The sophomore has one RBI and zero extra base hits in 24 at-bats. Tucker needs to be the big bopper in the lineup. Perhaps Miami can be his tonic, as Tucker was 8 for 16 with four RBI against UM in 2009.