Samford surges past No. 2 Florida
Bulldogs' Miller hits his nation-leading 20th homer of the season
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Samford right fielder Brandon Miller hit two home runs to bring his nation-leading total to 20 for the season in leading the Bulldogs to a 12-7 win against No. 2 Florida in Samford's final home game of the 2012 season Tuesday night at Joe Lee Griffin Field.
Miller became the first player in Samford history to hit 20 home runs in a single season.
"Obviously that is a great honor for him," Samford head coach Casey Dunn said. "He's truly left his mark on the program. Wins like tonight help solidify what our kids feel like this program is becoming. To beat a team like Florida and a program with that tradition is huge for us, and for Brandon to hit two home runs against them justifies his ability."
The game was the final home game for Samford's 12 seniors on the 2012 roster, and several of the seniors came up big in the Bulldogs' win. Miller went 2-for-4 with two homers and four RBI. Saxon Butler went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Senior pitchers Joseph Burns and Tyler Vanderheiden turned in strong performances pitching in relief.
"That was a special night for a heck of a group of seniors," Dunn said. "All of those guys played well tonight. Saxon got a huge hit, Brad (Moss) caught well. All of those guys just competed tonight. What a great way for those guys to walk off the field for the last time."
In addition to the seniors' performances, C.K. Irby went 2-for-5 with a triple and three RBI. Irby (4-1), who also was Samford's starting pitcher in the contest, tossed 5.0 innings, allowing just one run on one hit to earn the win. Tyler Filliben went 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Tommy Corbin also went 2-for-5 at the plate for Samford.
For Florida at the plate, Daniel Pigott went 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Preston Tucker went 2-for-3 for the Gators. Mike Zunino hit a home run and drove in three runs in a 1-for-4 performance. Johnny Magliozzi (4-3) pitched 1.2 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits to take the loss on the mound for Florida.
Samford scored three runs in the first inning, two runs in the second inning and two more in the fourth inning to take a 7-0 lead. In the first inning, Irby hit a triple to center field with the bases loaded, driving in Miller, Phillip Ervin and Moss. In the second inning, Zeth Stone hit his first home run of the season with Filliben on base for a 5-0 Samford lead. In the fourth inning, Miller hit his first home run of the night with Butler on base for a seven-run Samford lead.
Florida put its first run on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth inning to cut the Samford lead to 7-1. Jeff Moyer doubled to lead off the inning and later scored on a ground out by Taylor Gushue.
Samford answered with a run in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 8-1. Filliben singled to center field to drive in Christiaan Durdaller for a seven-run Samford lead.
The Gators added a run in the top of the sixth inning when Tucker scored on a sacrifice fly by Justin Shafer. Samford came back with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 10-2. Miller homered for the second time, this time with Ervin on base, for a nine-run Samford lead.
Florida cut the lead to 10-5 in the seventh inning when Zunino homered to left field with Tucker and Nolan Fontana on base. Samford added two more in the bottom of the seventh inning. Butler singled to center field to drive in Filliben and Corbin to push Samford's lead to 12-5.
The Gators added two final runs in the top of the ninth inning to make the final score 12-7. Brian Johnson and Pigott drove in a run each in the ninth inning for Florida.
The second-ranked Gators are the highest-ranked Division I team Samford has ever defeated. The game was played in front of 1,722 fans.