Gators Win Eighth Straight at Home

Junior Preston Tucker drove in two runs and sophomore Austin Maddox (2-for-4) belted a two-run homer to lead No. 5 Florida (37-12) to a 4-1 victory over North Florida (25-22) on Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium. Working on a pitch count, junior left-hander Alex Panteliodis (4-1) gave up one hit over three scoreless innings to earn the win.

"It was good to come back home and any time you win you have to feel good about it," head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We are obviously going to have to play better this weekend, but it was good to see Austin (Maddox) hit his home run and separate it a little bit. I thought our pitchers did a really good job. It was our plan to come into the night and use a lot of our pitchers and get them some short work to get them ready for this weekend and I thought they all did a nice job."

The Gators took a 1-0 lead in the first inning against sophomore Tommy Organ (4-1) on a sacrifice fly by Tucker. Senior Bryson Smith was hit by a pitch for the team-leading ninth time this season to lead off and sophomore Nolan Fontana (2-for-4) followed with a single up the middle. Sophomore Mike Zunino flew out to center field, moving Smith to third, and an errant relay throw by freshman outfielder Alex Bacon allowed Fontana to take second base. After Tucker brought Smith home with his first sacrifice fly of the season, Organ had senior Josh Adams fly out to end the frame.

The Ospreys put a pair of runners aboard in the third but came away empty-handed. Panteliodis retired the first six hitters of the game before junior T.J. Gavlik reached on a one-out error. After freshman Alex Hernandez had an infield single, sophomore Corey Bass grounded out.

Freshman Brandan Keen replaced Organ (2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R) prior to UF's third at bat and Zunino raised his hitting streak to 13 games with a one-out single into center field. Zunino swiped his seventh stolen base, took third on the play courtesy of a wild pitch and scored on an RBI grounder by Tucker for a 2-0 lead.

Junior Anthony DeSclafani took over for Panteliodis (3.0 IP, 1 H) at the outset of the fourth and yielded back-to-back singles by junior Andrew Karmeris (2-for-4) and Bacon. DeSclafani induced a grounder by freshman Shane Kennedy that erased Karmeris at third base and then had senior Kyle Dahl hit into an inning-ending 1-4-3 double play.

Dahl came through with a two-out RBI single down the left-field line in the sixth to narrow the gap to 2-1. Karmeris had opened the stanza with a double off junior Tommy Toledo after DeSclafani permitted three hits in two scoreless innings. Toledo had Bacon pop up and then struck out Kennedy before Dahl sliced a 0-1 offering into left field for a base-hit.

Florida answered in the home part of the inning on a towering two-run blast by Maddox off freshman Joe Iorio for a 4-1 advantage. After Tucker reached on a two-base error and was sacrificed to third on a bunt by Adams, Maddox launched his third round-tripper of the season deep to left field and into the parking lot in between McKethan Stadium and the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

"I've been scuffling a little bit but I just try to take every at bat, one at bat at a time," Maddox said. "He threw me a curve ball and left it up; I just didn't try to do too much with it and put a good swing on it."

Junior Nick Maronde struck out the side in the seventh, junior Greg Larson pitched a scoreless eighth and sophomore Steven Rodriguez recorded the first two outs in the ninth before senior Matt Campbell notched the final out to complete the three-run triumph with his first save.

The Gators are back in action on Friday in the opener of a pivotal weekend series at No. 2 Vanderbilt (41-6/19-5 SEC). The Commodores hold a one-game lead in the overall and Eastern Division standings over Florida and No. 3 South Carolina (38-10/18-6 SEC). The series opener will be televised on CSS at 7 p.m. ET and air in Gainesville and Ocala on Channel 199 on the Cox Communications cable system.

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