Gators Look to Extend Win Streak

Riding a six-game winning streak, the Gators (34-10/17-4 SEC) have their first midweek game in two weeks on Tuesday at 7 p.m. No. 4 Florida hosts a Bethune-Cookman (29-19/15-0 MEAC) team that is quietly putting together a good season. Despite this weekend's conference series on Thursday, the Florida players know that it's time to put the midweek demons behind them.

After playing on Tuesday night, the Gators will travel on Wednesday to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where they open this weekend's SEC series on Thursday night on ESPNU at 7:30.

It could be looked at as a negative to have a game two days before an important conference series, but the players actually prefer it. It helps them stay in a groove at the plate.

"It's nice to see some live arms," Florida catcher Mike Zunino said. "We have plenty of arms to see in intrasquads, but having a midweek game definitely helps to see pitches. It just helps you get that game feel."

Tuesday night won't be just batting practice though. The Wildcats have a perfect record in conference play and are a team that will likely be in an NCAA Regional this postseason, potentially in Gainesville.

Bethune-Cookman gave the Gators a scare in the first game of the 2009 Gainesville Regional. Wildcats ace Hiram Burgos limited Florida to three runs in seven innings, but the Florida offense bounce back for five runs in the final two innings to pull out an 8-7 win after Teddy Foster hit a walk-off single.

That game alone should have Florida focused when it comes time for Tuesday's game.

The Wildcats come to Gainesville on Tuesday with a .289 team batting average. Catcher Peter O'Brien is a top prospect for the 2011 MLB Draft, and he comes in hitting .296 and leading the team with 12 home runs and 57 RBIs.

Junior infielder Brashad Johnson leads the team with a .340 batting average. He also has one home run and 26 RBIs. Matt Wright (.318), Nick Johnson (.305) and DJ Leonard (.298) each have five home runs to provide the power.

Senior Emmanuel Castro is hitting .296 with six home runs and 34 RBIs. Ryan Durrence is hitting .285 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs.

The power is spread evenly throughout the lineup, giving the Wildcats a deep group of hitters that will be tough on the Gators.

Neither team has announced a starting pitcher, but Florida is expected to start junior left-hander Alex Panteliodis (2-1, 5.22). He hasn't been sharp in recent appearances, but after winning 11 games in 2010, Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan continues to wait for Panteliodis to regain his form.

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