Florida catcher Mike Zunino added some serious credibility to his SEC Player of the Year candidacy. Zunino's three run home run in the top of the 12th inning propelled the fifth ranked Gators (39-13, 20-7 SEC) past the second ranked Commodores (41-11, 20-7 SEC) in Nashville, 6-3. With the win, Florida sits on top of the SEC standings, tied with Vanderbilt and number three South Carolina (41-11, 20-7 SEC) heading into the final weekend of the season. As for Zunino for POY, he went 2-for-5 with two homers and five RBI in a critical win for his Florida team. Those two home runs pushed his team leading season home run total to 12 and he is currently hitting .381 on the season with 51 RBI's, and manages one of the best staffs in the league. I may not have a vote, and may be a little biased, but I'd give him a pretty good shot. You make the call.
But first, on to the highlights of this thrilling game...Florida flashed their power all day, hitting three home runs on the afternoon. The Gators Austin Maddox started it all off by hitting a solo shot in the second inning to give Florida a 1-0 lead. Maddox's homer marked the fifth consecutive contest Florida had hit a home run.
Vanderbilt answered in the bottom half of the second with a pair of RBI doubles by Curt Casali and Connor Harrell to take a 2-1 lead. Casali added a moonshot that cleared the scoreboard overlooking left field to put the Commodores up 3-1 in the fourth.
Zunino's first home run of the day cut the lead to 3-2 in the top of the seventh. His bomb was his first hit of the series, having previously gone 0-for-9. Zunino came into this weekend's series with a 13-game hitting streak.
Zunino tied the game at 3 in the visitor half of the eighth on a sac fly, scoring Nolan Fontana. Fontana also had a pretty good day, going 3-for-5 with two runs.
Florida pitchers Greg Larson, Steven Rodriguez and Tommy Toledo held the 'Dores in check for the remainder of the game until Zunino hit his three run bomb in the top of the 12th to send the Gators to victory. Toledo picked up the win for Florida after pitching 1 1/3 innings, allowing one hit and striking out four.
The Gators head back home to face the Jacksonville Dolphins (32-18, 18-8 A-Sun) for a Tuesday night game at McKethan Stadium. Florida finishes up league play with a chance to win the SEC regular season title with a three game series starting Thursday against Kentucky (24-28, 7-20 SEC).