No. 1 Florida Runs Winning Streak to 18

Kevin O'Sullivan was worried about Tuesday. Coming off a three-game sweep of Vanderbilt to open SEC play and a weekend series at defending national champion South Carolina starting Thursday, the Florida head coach was hoping his veteran team wouldn't overlook Samford. He was relieved to see that they didn't. No. 1 Florida recorded a 5-3 win over the Bulldogs on Tuesday to run its win streak to 18.

"We were worried about tonight," O'Sullivan said after the game. "We warned them and talked to them about it. We didn't want them looking ahead to the conference series. (Samford) is an older, veteran lineup. We needed an effort like that if we wanted to be successful tonight."

The win gave the Gators their school record 18th consecutive win.

Florida struggled in midweek games last season. The team went 7-7 in midweek games, and players have openly admitted the team losing concentration and not raising the level of their game against lesser opponents. That issue has been solved this season.

"We're a lot more focused," said Preston Tucker, who went 2-4 with one run scored. "Everyone is doing a great job of grinding out at bats and not giving anything away. That was one of our issues last year. We'd play well if we were playing a good team, but if we were playing a real competitive team that wasn't one of the big schools, we struggled."

The Gators got off to a good start behind freshman right-hander John Magliozzi (2-0). He made a conscious effort to throw his changeup more against Samford, and it worked. Magliozzi ended the night allowing three hits and one run in four innings of work. He set a career high with six strikeouts.

"My arm felt great," Magliozzi said. "I was just trying to throw strikes the whole game."

He came in with a 5.19 ERA in 8.2 innings of work, but it was a simple adjustment for the freshman. He isn't used to starting a season so early. Coming from East Milton, Mass., Magliozzi said his first start of the high school season would have been in mid-March.

Freshman Bobby Poyner allowed two runs (one earned) in three innings of relief while striking out three hitters. Greg Larson and Austin Maddox combined to allow just one walk in the final two innings of the game. Maddox picked up his seventh save of the year.

The Florida offense wasn't potent, but it scored enough runs to get the job done.

Mike Zunino scored one in the first with an RBI single. Josh Tobias scored another in the second inning with an RBI single of his own and later scored on a wild pitch.

Taylor Gushue scored Tucker in the fifth with an RBI single, and the Gators got some insurance when Zunino lined an RBI double down the left field line.

"They came out and threw some great arms at us," Zunino said. "We knew we couldn't overlook them. We went out there ready to play."

Florida will now take its 18-game winning streak on the road to face the defending national champion Gamecocks. The series will be a rematch of the 2011 College World Series championship series.

O'Sullivan said after the game he will keep a same rotation of Hudson Randall, Brian Johnson and Jonathon Crawford. Karsten Whitson will be held out of the weekend series. O'Sullivan said after the game that Whitson will throw a bullpen during Thursday night's practice in Columbia before taking the mound to start the Tuesday game against Florida State or next Sunday's game at Ole Miss.

Thursday night's series opener at South Carolina will begin at 7:30 p.m. and be broadcast on ESPNU. Stay tuned to for live coverage from Columbia.

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