No. 1 Florida Earns Comeback Win Over B-CU

The Gators lost midweek games like this in 2011. The balls Bethune-Cookman hit weakly seemed to find holes while Florida smoked balls right at defenders. Those struggles pushed the Gators to a 6-7 record in midweek games last season. It changed in the first midweek game of 2012, as No. 1 Florida pulled out an 8-6 win over the Wildcats.

"Tonight was one of those nights. I had a weird feeling about it," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "Every ball that was hit (by Bethune-Cookman) found a hole. The most important thing is we fought through it and wound up winning while still playing a lot of new faces.

"It's good to win any time. Every win feels good, but we aren't even close to where we're going to be yet. For whatever reason, we're just not there yet."

The game was close throughout. Preston Tucker gave Florida its final lead with an RBI single in the eighth inning, moving him just one RBI away from the school's career record that is currently held by Brad Wilkerson. Brian Johnson added a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, and Austin Maddox (1-0) threw two shutout innings to end the game.

Despite Florida getting a win and moving to 3-1 on the season, O'Sullivan still thinks there is room for improvement.

"We still haven't clicked yet," O'Sullivan said. "We're still knocking some rust off. I don't think we're quite as sharp yet, but we'll get there."

Part of that improvement is at the plate. Florida has scored 25 runs in four games this season, but there's room for improvement. The two players at the top of the order, Nolan Fontana and Daniel Pigott, are hitting .167 and .267 respectively to start the year. Once they get hot, the improvement of the offense will come, too.

Mike Zunino gave the Gators two solo home runs on Tuesday. The first one was lined into the left field bleachers, but the second one was the most impressive. The junior catcher hit a towering shot to deep right field that didn't have much doubt about where it would land.

Cal State Fullerton pounded him away with every pitch they threw over the weekend, and Zunino admitted to being overanxious and trying to do too much. He spent time in the batting cage during Florida's off day on Monday and focused on it in batting practice before Tuesday's game. He adjusted his swing to keep the weight on his back foot and not jump at the ball.

"I put a lot of work on it," Zunino said. "I know I'm going to get pitched there a lot this year. I was just getting too antsy over the weekend and was able to sit back in my stance today to get a couple pitches I could drive. I was just too amped up on the opening weekend. I just stayed within myself and made adjustments today."

The pitching was similar to Sunday, but O'Sullivan saw flashes of success from his young pitchers. Freshman John Magliozzi started on the mound and went 3.2 innings, allowing five hits, two walks and three runs while striking out three.

"I thought Mags threw the ball fine," O'Sullivan said. "He worked behind in the count a little bit, but it's a learning experience."

The first three pitchers the Gators used were freshmen, as Bobby Poyner and Justin Shafer came in after Magliozzi. The two combined for three innings, six hits and three runs.

When Bethune-Cookman had a one-run lead in the seventh inning, O'Sullivan went to Greg Larson and Maddox. The two allowed three hits as they closed the game down.

Florida returns to action on Wednesday when it hosts UCF at 7 p.m.

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