Baseball, Softball Sweep Vols

Two teams came down from Rocky Top looking to swing their sticks. Both teams went back to Rocky Top a combined oh-and-six.

Feel free to sing along if you wish…. Nah, I guess not.

Still it was a great weekend at two ballparks for the Florida Gators who posted a pair of three game sweeps over their rivals from Knoxville. The sweeps provided a much needed jolt to one Gator squad and reaffirmed the dominance of the other.

BASEBALL ----- Kevin O'Sullivan's squad came into this week on the heels of a three-game sweep at Arkansas to open the SEC schedule. Florida was 9-7 overall and had to be questioning just what kind of season this might be. Well, there should be a little hop in their step this week after five straight wins including three over Tennessee. Mid-week victories over Florida State and UCF served to right the ship so to speak, but Friday night set the tone for the weekend.

The Gators trailed Tennessee 2-1 despite a superb pitching performance from Jeff Barfield heading into the eighth inning. Then junior centerfielder Matt den Dekker stepped to the plate with a runner on and drilled a two-run homer to give the Gators the lead and eventually the win. It was a huge, emotional win for a team that desperately needed its first SEC victory.

The Gators dominated game two of the series 10-2 and headed into Sunday afternoon looking for the sweep. Florida fell behind 4-1, but battled back, took the lead and held on for a 7-5 win. The sweep improved the Gators to 14-7 and the season and evens their SEC record at 3-3. Another busy week is coming up for O'Sullivan and company. Their play a mid-week home and home with North Florida before Alabama comes to town for three.

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The Gators had lost five straight series to Tennessee, all two games to one.
Junior reliever Billy Bullock picked up his fourth save on Sunday. No Gator had more than three saves all of last season.

Freshman lefty Alex Panteliodis had a tremendous week on the mound. The rookie from Tampa went 4 1/3 scoreless innings against FSU on Tuesday and came back with four scoreless innings out of the pen on Sunday.

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SOFTBALL ----- This should have been a weekend of intense games as the top ranked Gators hosted No. 6 Tennessee but it was anything but. Florida outscored the Vols 18-1 in winning three straight games and making it abundantly clear that there's a big gap between the top team and the rest of the SEC East.

Game one say Stacey Nelson throw her 46th career shutout and strikeout 11 in a 7-0 rout. Ali Gardiner opened the scoring with an RBI single and Corrie Brooks followed with a grand slam two batters later. Truth be told the only drama was whether or not the Gators could go up by eight in either the 5th or 6th inning, thus ending the game under the "mercy rule". They couldn't, but it didn't matter.

Game two was more of the same. This time the world's best No. 2 pitcher, Stephanie Brombacher improved to 15-0 with her tenth shutout of the season while the Florida offense was led by Brooks and Megan Rush who drilled consecutive homers on the way to another 7-0 win. Again, Florida had a chance to "eight run rule" the Vols but couldn't get it done.

Sunday's series finale saw Tennessee finally get on the scoreboard and hold a 1-0 lead. Florida tied it in the fourth on a bases loaded infield hit from freshman Michelle Moultrie and took the lead an inning later on consecutive doubles by Kelsey Bruder and Gardiner. Nelson took over from there and posted her 17th win over the season with another ten strikeout performance.

Florida is now 32-2 on the year and 11-0 in the SEC. Second ranked Alabama visits Gainesville next weekend. Last season the Crimson Tide and Gators split a mid-week doubleheader, but Florida won the SEC Tournament final at the end of the season. Both teams made it to the College World Series so this should be a great series.

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Florida has out-homered its opponents 41-1 on the season. Seven individual Gators have hit more homers than all Florida opponents combined.

Gator pitchers have shut out 20 opponents this season. Nelson and Brombacher each have thrown ten.

Combining this season with last Florida is 102-7.

Five different Gator hitters have driven in 24 or more runs. Gator opponents have totaled 24 runs in 34 games.


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