March 5, 2010

Courtesy of Florida Athletics

Sophomore Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) kept No. 10 Miami (6-2) hitless into the fifth and registered a career-high eight strikeouts as No. 5 Florida (6-1) captured the series opener between the Sunshine State rivals on Friday night, 7-1, at Alex Rodriguez Park. Making his initial start of the season, Panteliodis (3-0) gave up two hits over 5.2 innings and was supported by an offense that plated four runs in the third and three in the eighth. Sophomore Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) collected his first career save with seven strikeouts over 3.1 hitless and scoreless innings.

“Our pitching was outstanding tonight,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Alex (Panteliodis) gave us a quality start and Nick (Maronde) was solid in relief. We need to go on the road and win Friday night games against top-notch pitchers, that is something we haven’t been able to do for the last couple of years. Our hitters shortened their swings and had a much better approach at the plate tonight. I saw a lot of progress from Tuesday night.”

The Gators opened the scoring with four runs on five hits in the third inning against Hurricane junior All-American Chris Hernandez (1-1), highlighted by two-run singles from junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (1-for-4) and freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-4). Freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) blooped a one-out single into left field and would have been erased at second base on a grounder by freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.). However, an errant throw by UM sophomore third baseman Harold Martinez into the outfield enabled UF to have two runners aboard. After senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (2-for-5) raised his hitting streak to 16 games with a single into right field to fill the bags, Adams put the visitors on the board with a single into left that scored both Fontana and Zunino. Sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) was hit by a pitch to re-load the bases and Maddox increased the Gators’ lead to 4-0 with a base-knock into right field. Although Tucker was caught in a run-down between second and third base for out number two, sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-4) delivered his second double of the season into the right-field corner to give Florida two runners in scoring position. Hernandez prevented further trouble with his second strikeout of sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.).

UF had runners on the corners with one down in the fifth, courtesy of singles by den Dekker and Tucker and den Dekker’s third theft of the year. Hernandez worked out of the jam by fanning Maddox and having Pigott force Tucker at second base with a grounder to hold the margin at 4-0. Over six innings on the hill, Hernandez permitted eight hits, registered eight strikeouts and yielded four runs (three earned).

Panteliodis held the Hurricanes without a hit until junior Yasmani Grandal led off the bottom of the fifth with a single to center. The left-hander retired sophomore David Villasuso for his career-best seventh strikeout before having junior Chris Pelaez force Grandal at second with a grounder. Pelaez stole second base and Martinez walked for a pair of runners aboard before Panteliodis punched out freshman Michael Broad to end the frame.

A sacrifice fly by freshman Stephen Perez in the sixth brought home freshman Zeke DeVoss for Miami’s first run. DeVoss had tripled into right center with one down and came home on a fly ball into right field. Maronde was summoned from the bullpen to replace Panteliodis, who worked 5.2 strong innings and allowed just two hits. Maronde forced senior Scott Lawson to pop up a bunt to Zunino to hold the count at 4-1 through six innings.

Grandal drew a leadoff walk in the seventh before Maronde caught Villasuso looking on strikes. After a wild pitch pushed Grandal to second, the southpaw retired Pelaez on strikes and had Martinez ground out to short, where Fontana made a tremendous throw across the diamond to close the inning.

Florida tacked on three more runs with two down in the eighth, as Fontana was hit with the bases loaded and Zunino roped a two-run single through the left side. Tucker earned a free pass from Miami freshman reliever E.J. Encinosa to begin the stanza and Maddox followed with a single up the middle. A one-out walk to Thompson loaded the bases and prompted another pitching change, as sophomore Sam Robinson took over for Encinosa (1.1 IP, 1 H, 3 R). The lefty struck out sophomore Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) but then plunked Fontana for a 5-1 margin. Soon after, Zunino stroked a two-run single to bring across freshman pinch runner Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) and Thompson to finalize the 7-1 score.

Maronde was brilliant over the final 3.1 innings, whiffing seven of the 12 UM batters he faced without surrendering a hit. The Gators held a 10-2 advantage in hits and their pitching staff totaled a season-high 15 strikeouts. Freshman left-hander Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (1-0, 2.84) will oppose senior right-hander Jason Santana (0-1, 10.80) at 7 p.m. tomorrow in game two of the series.   

Game Notes

·Tonight was Alex Panteliodis’ first start of the season and first since the NCAA Gainesville Regional against Miami (Fla.) on May 31, 2009.

·Panteliodis had achieved his previous career high of six strikeouts twice in his career before tonight, last season against Miami (5/31) and Jacksonville (5/12).

·Panteliodis’ career high of 6.0 innings came in his first career start against Louisville on Feb. 21, 2009.

·Matt den Dekker now has multiple hits in six of the Gators’ seven games this season.

·UF took the opener of the series against Miami for the first time since a 7-2 decision on Feb. 16, 2007.

·Austin Maddox matched his single-season high of two RBI for the third time.

·Mike Zunino drove in a career-high two runs, courtesy of his eighth-inning single.