No. 1 Florida Beats Vandy, Sets School Record

Florida knew it was coming. Despite some slow starts this season, the Gators' offense always feels the same—confident and expecting a breakout. It came in the fifth inning on Friday. After Vanderbilt starter Kevin Ziomek threw four shutout innings, the No. 1 Gators scored five runs in the fifth and ran away with a 10-2 win over Vanderbilt, setting a school record with a 15-game winning streak.

"Our team doesn't panic," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We're not going to be in the lead every ball game. It's a nine-inning ball game. We've just had a tendency of not beating ourselves."

The Gators loaded the bases with an Austin Maddox single, Casey Turgeon walk and a Josh Tobias single. Tyler Thompson followed by dropping a single into shallow left field to score one run. Nolan Fontana then reached on a fielder's choice to second base, where the Commodores got an out at second.

Kevin Ziomek then picked off to first base and looked to have Fontana out. However, home plate umpire Morris Hodges called a balk on Ziomek, allowing the run to score and Fontana to go to second. Two batters later, Preston Tucker golfed a single into right field. Mike Zunino capped off the inning with a sacrifice fly to push the Florida lead to 5-2 after five innings.

"One of the things we need to work on is getting runs early in the game," Tucker said. "Fortunately for us, we've got so much power in the lineup and so many good arms in the bullpen that we can always score runs like that."

It was a strange night for Ziomek. Through four innings, the sophomore left-hander allowed just two hits, no runs and one walk. In the fifth inning, Ziomek was charged for four hits, one walk and five runs.

"I would like to think that we had some better looks," O'Sullivan said. "The game was moving too uncomfortably fast. It seemed like we went through four innings in an hour, and we hadn't put him in the set position much. He wasn't in the stretch much. Maybe altering his tempo a little bit may have helped."

The Florida offense continued to chip away.

After Fontana singled and Daniel Pigott walked to start the seventh inning, Preston Tucker lined a triple into the right field corner to score both. Zunino then walk, and both runners scored when Taylor Gushue lined a double into the left-center field gap.

"You learn a lot about the pitcher after the first time through the lineup," Pigott said.

While the offense was rolling, Florida right-hander Hudson Randall (3-0) got into a groove. He allowed a run in the first inning on a two-out single to Mike Yastrzemski and then a triple by Conrad Gregor. In the fifth inning, Anthony Gomez drove in Tony Kemp with a two-out single.

After the Gators answered with their five runs, Randall came back with a clean sixth inning.

The junior finished the night throwing 6.2 innings, allowing six hits, two runs and striking out six. Randall threw 61 of his 86 pitches for strikes.

"I realized they're aggressive on the first pitch," Randall said. "They're swinging early, knowing I was throwing strikes. I tried to nibble more early in the counts and try to get some weak contact."

After Steven Rodriguez recorded two outs in relief, O'Sullivan pulled him. With left-handers Yastrzemski and Gregor coming to the plate, O'Sullivan didn't want the Vanderbilt hitters to get an extra look at Rodriguez, since he might have to face them later in the weekend.

O'Sullivan went to freshmen Corey Stump and Justin Shafer to close out the final 1.2 innings of the game. They continued the bullpen's scoreless streak to 30 innings and 41 straight innings without an earned run allowed.

Florida will go for the series win on Saturday when it sends Brian Johnson to the mound against Vanderbilt starter Drew VerHagen. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.

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