Johnson Outstanding Against BC

Before Thursday night's game, it was already clear the Gators pitching staff should dominate this season. However, it was the performance against Boston College that raised the bar even higher. The pitching staff continued to outdo itself on the back of Brian Johnson, as the No. 1 Gators completed a two-hit shutout while beating the Eagles 4-0 at McKethan Stadium.

The sophomore left-hander went six innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out five. Johnson (2-0) threw 48 of his 70 pitches for strikes and was 18-for-20 with first-pitch strikes. He continued to pound the strike zone, and South Carolina hitters continued to get themselves out.

Johnson had a perfect game through 5.2 innings, but Boston College center fielder Tom Bourdon broke it up with a single on a hanging slider. He walked the leadoff hitter of the seventh inning, and Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan brought in left-hander Paco Rodriguez.

"Brian was outstanding," O'Sullivan said. "He commanded all four of his pitches and pitched ahead in the count. He was just outstanding again tonight."

Dating back to Johnson's start on February 18 against USF, he retired 27 straight batters to set a school record. He retired the first 17 batters of Thursday night's game, coming up short of Bryan Augenstein's school record of retiring the first 23 batters against Cincinnati in 2006.

"I'm just trying to go with the same routine and start out with strikes early in the count just like last week," Johnson said. "I thought all my pitches were there. The real key is just to be able to throw all your pitches for strikes."

Steven Rodriguez threw the final three innings, allowing one hit and striking out three to earn his first save of the year.

The offense didn't come easy for the Gators, as Boston College threw their three weekend starters during the game. Mike Dennhardt started the game while Nate Bayuk and John Leonard came out of the bullpen. Andrew Lawrence also threw an inning.

The Eagles slowed down a Florida offense that scored 13 runs against Florida Atlantic on Tuesday.

The Gators got on the board early when Mike Zunino doubled in Johnson, who had reached on a two-base error by left fielder Marc Perdios. Johnson singled to score Preston Tucker in the fourth inning.

Tucker added a run when he doubled in Josh Adams, who tripled the batter before, pushing the lead to 3-0.

Tucker is hitting .476 (10-21) to start the season and leads the team with seven RBIs. His double came off the left-handed Bayuk, and Tucker stayed on the ball to drive it in the right-center field gap. The Gators have seen a lot of left-handed pitching early in the season, but it hasn't phased the right fielder at all.

"I'm just keeping my front shoulder in," Tucker said. "I'm not trying to pull balls. I'm trying to hit the ball up the middle of the field and stay back on breaking balls."

Austin Maddox added an RBI double in the eighth inning to pad the lead.

Johnson's dominance on the mound made it easy for the Florida offense to know they just needed to put a few runs on the board to win.

In his two starts this season, Johnson has gone 12 innings, giving up three hits and allowing one walk. He has also recorded eleven strikeouts. He is 33-for-38 with first-pitch strikes and has thrown 99 of his 137 pitches for strikes.

The Gators continue the series with Boston College on Friday at 5 p.m. Florida will start sophomore right-hander Hudson Randall (1-0, 1.50) against an Eagles pitcher yet to be determined.

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