Gators Return to Winning Ways

No. 1 Florida (11-2) used a season-high three home runs, seven extra-base hits and a solid outing from junior left-hander Alex Panteliodis to defeat USF (5-7), 8-1, on Wednesday night in front of a sellout crowd of 3,211 fans at USF Baseball Stadium. The Gators' 12th-straight triumph over the Bulls enabled them to sweep all four meetings this season.

UF scored seven of its eight runs with two down, highlighted by dingers in the second inning by sophomore Mike Zunino (1-for-2, two runs) and senior Josh Adams (1-for-4). Junior Daniel Pigott matched his career-best hitting streak of 12 games with a 3-for-4 outing that featured a two-run homer in the sixth. He is now hitting a team-best .524 (22-for-42) on the campaign.

Panteliodis (1-0) retired the first two Bulls of the game before a dropped pop-up by sophomore first baseman Austin Maddox enabled junior Todd Brazeal to reach base. Junior Sam Mende (2-for-4) roped a double into the left-field corner but the Gators nailed Brazeal at the plate on a relay from left fielder Pigott to sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana to sophomore catcher Zunino.

The Gators seized a 3-0 lead in the second inning on back-to-back two-out homers on consecutive pitches by Zunino and Adams. Senior Junior Carlin (0-1) had retired the first five hitters he faced before Pigott doubled into right field. Zunino blasted Carlin's next offering over the fence in right center field for his third round-tripper of the season and Adams tagged the very next pitch out of yard to left for his first homer of the year. It was the first time that the Gators had delivered back-to-back jacks since Brian Johnson and Zunino accomplished the feat during the third inning of the NCAA Gainesville Regional against Florida Atlantic on June 6, 2010.

In the home part of the frame, freshman James Ramsay put USF on the board with a one-out homer to narrow the gap to 3-1 but the Bulls left the bases full. Sophomore Chad Taylor (2-for-4) and junior Luis Llerena followed with singles before Panteliodis fanned redshirt freshman Anthony Diaz. The lefty plunked senior Jonathan Koscso to fill the bags with two down but prevented further trouble with a strikeout of Carlin.

Fontana drew a leadoff walk in the third and went to second when Carlin was charged with a balk. Senior Bryson Smith (2-for-5) flew out to right field and Ramsay gunned down Fontana attempting to take third for a double play before Carlin had junior Preston Tucker ground out to end the frame.

Brazeal opened the Bulls' third with a base-hit up the middle and moved to second on a wild pitch. Panteliodis induced a fly ball from Mende that Tucker snared in right field and was able to throw Brazeal out at third base to complete the double play. Panteliodis then had junior Andrew Longley fly out.

Fontana was hit by Carlin with two down in the fifth, prompting a pitching change. Senior Doug Wagner replaced Carlin (4.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R) and had Smith fly out to left field to keep the host down by a couple of runs. Panteliodis plunked Diaz to open the bottom of the stanza but then had Koscso fly out and Carlin ground into an inning-ending double play.

Pigott extended Florida's advantage to 5-1 in the sixth with a two-run homer, his first of the season. Maddox had stroked a one-out single up the middle and Pigott later sent a towering homer over the fence in left center to give the Gators a four-run cushion. The blast was Pigott's first four-bagger since April 3, 2010, against Vanderbilt.

Smith boosted the Gators' margin to 6-1 in the seventh with an RBI single that drove in Fontana, who had doubled off sophomore Trey Dahl. In the eighth, Pigott notched his third extra-base hit of the night with a one-out double off senior Zack Pietrzyk and took third on a failed pickoff attempt. Zunino was hit for runners on the corners and went to second on a wild pitch for a pair of runners in scoring position. Freshman Zack Powers delivered a pinch-hit, two-run single into center field to expand the margin to 8-1.

In his first start of the season, Panteliodis limited the Bulls to one run on five hits and totaled four K over five innings. Junior Tommy Toledo gave up three hits over two scoreless frames, senior Matt Campbell put up a zero in the eighth and Maddox totaled two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 ninth to close the game. The Gators held a 12-8 edge in hits.

The Gators host Rhode Island (7-3) in the opener of a three-game series at McKethan Stadium starting on Friday at 7 p.m.

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