Gators Blast the Beavers

The Florida Gators baseball team defeated Oregon State 10-2 Saturday night and will play for the championship of the NCAA Gainesville regional on Sunday. A six hit, seven run third inning catapulted the Gators into tomorrows regional finals, but it was stellar pitching that also kept Oregon State at bay. Florida moves to 44-15 on the year and avoids playing extra games.

Gator freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana got things started when he planted a monster home run shot over the right field wall that cleared the street outside the stadium to start the game as the first batter. Sophomore pitcher Alex Panteliodis kept the beavers at bay allowing two runs on five hits over five innings and striking out an impressive eight batters of the 15 outs he faced.

Florida took care of Panteliodis in the third when the gators scored seven unanswered runs in the third all with two outs. In the inning, the Gators got the first two batters on only to have sophomore Preston Tucker line into a double play. With two outs, the gators followed that up with a single,. An intentional walk, and two triples to score the seven runs.

Gator assistant Coach Brad Weitzel said after the game that the staff always harps on keeping the inning alive and the last out is the toughest for the defense in every inning. Wghich proved to be very true in the third.

"As a coach you are always telling your team the toughest out to get in an inning is the third out and the toughest out in the game is the last out of the game," Weitzel told the gator radio network after the game. That is our mentality.

"I am really proud of these guys and we are really hitting the ball well scoring seven runs in the one inning. We got off to a good start and built a lead a little bit and tacked on some runs to help out n(in the end).

The Gator bats were lively when they needed to be and they batted smart. Weitzel liked what he saw out there Saturday night.

"I am really proud of these guys," he said. "That righty threw against our left handed hitters and he would drop his arm and kind of push the ball. We made them move up in the box and take away his sinker and his slider and they did a good job with that."

Junior Josh Adams has had a sub par year at the plate compared to the past two seasons, but has come alive late this season. Weitzel couldn't help but talk glowingly of Adams after the game who went 2-5 with a home run and two RBI.

"Josh is a kid that when I was a scout for the Twins, I drafted out of high school," Weitzel said. "I have always thought he was a great baseball player. He has had a rough year, but defensively he's played great. He runs the bases great and his instincts in playing the game are really great. He struggled a little bit offensively this year but like we put on the board yesterday...all the stats (from the year) don't count, nothing counts, and we have to move forward. I thought he had some really good at bats and drove the ball really well tonight."

Freshman Austin Maddox continued his offensive tear through an all-American season. Going 3-5 with two RBI on the night. Freshman catcher Mike Zunino was the third Gators top add two RBI going 1-4 on the night.

Panteliodis did what he has done all year and threw the ball well. There was some concern with a delayed start due to the weather that he may not be in a good rhythm, but the sophomore finished strong with his eight strikeouts and five solid innings allowing the gator bull pen to really be rested headed into the regional championship Sunday.

"He threw (well), he had a really good bull pen and I was delighted to see that because we had a long delay and started late," Weitzel said of Panteliodis. "Usually that can mess up a pitcher, but he held his ground, got off to a good start, and had a good outing."

Now the Gators wait through the early afternoon Sunday game where Oregon State and Florida Atlantic play an elimination game to see who meets the gators for a 7 p.m. Matchup later Sunday evening. The weather has caused delays both days so far, so the times are not written in stone. The Gators only have to win one game, if they lose, the final game will be played Monday evening.

By virtue of winning twice, and pitching well both days, the Gators avoid the issue of going deep into the bullpen which is usually the Achilles heel for teams in a double elimination tournament. The Gators got a strong performance Friday night from freshman Hudson Randall who went into the seventh inning. The Gator pitching staff should be as rested as they have been all season for a three game series.

Weitzel and the rest of the coaches will be watching the pitching carefully in the eraly game to see what the winning team has left when they face the Gators.

"I don't know what the players will do but we will be here all day seeing what pitchers that Oregon State and FAU use," Weitzel said. "That is what we are going to do as a coaching staff and the players deserve the rest. Hopefully they will come out and be ready to go and take the title tomorrow.

Florida is expected to start freshman Brian Johnson (4.41 ERA, 5-4 record) on the mound Sunday evening who was the designated hitter Saturday night.

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