Randall's Three-Hit Shutout Paces No. 3 UF

It's hard to draw it up any better than how it went on Thursday for No. 3 Florida . The Gators got a three-hit shutout from right-hander Hudson Randall while the offense cranked out six runs on ten hits, including three by Preston Tucker to give him the all-time record for hits at UF. Florida erased the taste of a midweek loss at Samford with a 6-0 win over Auburn to open the series.

"Hudson Randall pitched his heart out and saved our pen for the next two nights—special, special outing for him," Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "It gave us a great lift to start the weekend."

Randall faced the minimum hitters an inning during six of his nine innings on the mound. He walked one to go along with the three hits allowed, but the Florida defense played well behind him. Randall was throwing all of his pitches for strikes and locating the ball on both sides of the plate.

While the junior was cruising, the Florida offense didn't waste time showing improvement. The Gators loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning but only brought one across with a sacrifice fly by Daniel Pigott.

The explosion came in the second inning.

Josh Tobias tripled off the right field wall to score Justin Shafer, who started the inning by reaching base when a pitch hit him. Vickash Ramjit followed with a sacrifice fly to score Tobias.

Nolan Fontana lined a ball in the right-center field gap for a double. He scored when Preston Tucker launched a home run to right field, giving the Gators a 5-0 lead early.

The swing wasn't just important because of the score. It was the 320th hit of Tucker's career, giving him sole possession of the all-time hits record at Florida, which was previously held by Mark Ellis.

"I just wanted to say congratulations to Preston and his family with him breaking the hit record tonight," O'Sullivan said. "It couldn't have happened to a better person. He has worked extremely hard and been an unbelievable student athlete in our program for the last three years. That's a special record. It's not something that comes around every few years.

"He broke the RBI record with a home run and broke the hit record with a home run. I guess he's going out in style. You can't say enough about the accomplishment."

The Florida offense scored just one run in the final seven innings, coming when Mike Zunino brought Fontana home with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. The inconsistency is still there, but O'Sullivan liked the way his team looked at the plate.

"We had some really good approaches," O'Sullivan said. "I've said this all along. If we can get hot offensively—and I truly believe in this team—with the way we've pitched and play defense and when, not if, we get our bats going, we're going to be a really tough team to beat in the postseason."

Mississippi State defeated Kentucky on Thursday night in the opener of that series. LSU and South Carolina were postponed and will play a doubleheader on Friday.

The Gators need Kentucky to lose one of the remaining two games in its series while LSU take two of the three games in Columbia. If that happens and the Gators sweep Auburn, Florida would get a piece of the SEC Championship.

The coaches are making sure Florida doesn't focus on that. The Gators just want to play well and build momentum as Florida works to improve its resume and try to secure a top-eight national seed.

"We want to play good baseball. It's even simpler than that—we want to play sound baseball," O'Sullivan said. "We want to play our best baseball at the end of the year. We're not watching other scores because it really doesn't matter.

"We really want to play at home in front of our home crowd for the Regionals and Super Regionals. They've been great all year for us, and this is a big weekend for us to hopefully get one of those top eight national seeds. We're off to a good start."

Game two of the series will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday.

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