Whitson goes six scoreless for win
Zunino ties school record with three doubles in game
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Mike Zunino was a career-best 4-for-4 with three doubles and four RBIs and right-hander Karsten Whitson (6-0) twirled six scoreless innings to help No. 4 Florida (34-10, 17-4 SEC) complete a three-game sweep of Ole Miss (24-20, 9-12 SEC) with a 7-2 victory.
It was the Gators’ first sweep of the Rebels since March 15-17, 2002 (24-5, 7-6, 17-6) and Florida now has taken all three games from four different league foes (LSU, Tennessee, Alabama and Ole Miss) this season. Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s club has claimed its last seven SEC outings and is a riding a six-game winning streak.
“They aren’t easy to come by (SEC sweeps), especially against a team like Ole Miss,” O’Sullivan said. “They’ve got a lot of history and a lot of tradition and they’re always in the postseason. I think the thing that I’m most proud of with this team right now is the way they came out today and played. Most teams would be satisfied with two wins and winning the series but the way they came out and swung the bats aggressively and played great defense was impressive.
“Obviously, Karsten (Whitson) had a great start. I’m awfully proud of the way he pitched and it was a tough lineup to throw to with six left-handers. He hasn’t had that look very often; in high school you’re never going to see a lineup with six left-handers. Karsten used his secondary pitches and made some pitches when he had to, and, obviously, the bullpen was great too. I thought that our approach today was outstanding.”
The Gators seized a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Nolan Fontana (1-for-2, two runs) and an RBI single by Preston Tucker (2-for-4, two RBI). Bryson Smith (1-for-2, two runs) had opened the frame with a double to left field and advanced to third on a wild pitch by Austin Wright (4-4). Fontana drove in his teammate with his team-leading fifth sac fly of the season into left field. Zunino extended his hitting streak to eight games with a one-out double to left center and Tucker followed with a base-knock up the middle to score Zunino for a two-run margin.
Zunino roped a two-run double in the third that increased the Gators' lead to 4-0. Vickash Ramjit (2-for-4) started the inning with a bunt single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Smith pushed his teammate to third with a grounder and Fontana was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners. Zunino cleared the bases with his second two-bagger of the day to left center and swiped third for his sixth theft of the season. After retiring Tucker on an infield fly, Wright (2.2 innings, five hits and four runs) was replaced by Bobby Wahl, who struck out Austin Maddox.
Matt Smith (2-for-4) hit a one-out double in the fourth for the Rebels, but Whitson responded by inducing a Matt Tracy flyout to center field before striking out Matt Snyder.
Will Allen (2-for-3) singled with one down in the fifth and Whitson had Austin Anderson fly out to right field before a wild pitch moved the runner into scoring position. Whitson ended the inning by forcing a Tanner Mathis groundout.
Florida tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the frame, highlighted by a two-run double by Zunino and an RBI single by Tucker, to build a 7-0 advantage. With one down, Smith was hit by a pitch and Fontana followed with a double for a pair of Gators in scoring position. Zunino sliced a two-run double down the left-field line to become the first Gator player with three doubles in an outing since Jerico Weitzel accomplished the feat at Tennessee on April 11, 2010.
Wahl recorded the first two outs in the sixth before Ramjit singled and Smith drew a walk on four pitches. Jake Morgan replaced Wahl (three innings, four hits and three runs) and had Fontana ground out.
Ole Miss took advantage of a Gator error to avert the shutout in the seventh inning. Steven Rodriguez took over for Whitson after Whitson threw six innings, allowing no runs on three hits with four strikeouts. Snyder led off the inning with a fly ball to left field. However, Pigott misplayed it for a two-base error. Rodriguez fanned Miles Hamblin but uncorked a wild pitch to move Snyder to third. Allen put the Rebels on the board with an RBI single into right field.
Smith belted his seventh homer of the year with two down in the eighth off Anthony DeSclafani to finalize the scoring at 7-2. Florida held an 11-5 edge in hits and was bolstered by five doubles.