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March 5, 2012
Gators Sports Weekend Recap
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The Florida Gators were all over the college and professional sports landscape over the weekend, making their marks in a number of different sports. Below is a round-up of how all of your favorite teams and players did in the wide world of sports.
No. 1 Florida, which received the unanimous top-ranking when the new polls were released Monday afternoon, improved to 10-1 over the weekend with second series sweep of the season, this time against No. 8 Miami (8-3) on the road in Coral Gables, FL. The Gators defeated the Hurricanes 7-5 on Friday, scoring in five of nine innings and never falling behind in the series opener. Junior right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (5.1 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, BB, 6 K) earned the win as junior catcher Mike Zunino (4/5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) and senior left fielder Daniel Pigott (1/3, 2 RBI) each knocked in a pair of runs. Junior first baseman/closer Austin Maddox (3/3, RBI, R) also earned his third save of the season.
Saturday's game was all about junior left-hander Brian Johnson and freshman 1B Taylor Gushue. Johnson finished 4/5 with five RBIs and two runs, which helped negate a rough outing on the mound where he coughed up five earned runs on nine hits in 3.1 innings. Gushue, named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday, again expressed his power, going 3/4 from the plate with two home runs, four RBI and two runs. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (3-5) scored thrice, and senior RHP Greg Larson (1-0) picked up the win in the 13-5 victory by striking out four batters in 4.2 no-hit innings.
With the series clinched, a come-from-behind 8-5 win in Sunday's finale was icing on the cake for Florida. Up two runs in the bottom of the ninth, Miami imploded thanks in part to reliever E.J. Encinosa, who allowed five earned runs while just getting one out in the frame. Encinosa threw two wild pitches, walked two batters and hit two others, allowing Zunino to tie the game with a bases-clearing double. Zunino scored the game-winning run on one of Encinosa's wild pitches, earning freshman RHP Johnny Magliozzi the victory and sophomore LHP Daniel Gibson the save.
Equally impressive was the No. 3 Gators softball (19-1), which won six games from Thursday-Sunday and swept the Lipton Invitational (hosted in Gainesville, FL) by not allowing a single run in the five games they played.
Senior center fielder Michelle Moultrie and junior C Kelsey Horton were dominant at the plate, combining for eight home runs, 24 RBIs, 17 runs, three stolen bases and three walks in the six games. Sophomore RHP Hannah Rogers improved to 10-0 with two victories, and freshmen RHPs Alyssa Bache (3-0) and Lauren Haeger (6-1) each picked up two wins of their own. UF will move away from the home cooking with five road games coming up this week including two against Mississippi State and three at Tennessee.
No. 4 Florida lacrosse (4-2) suffered a devastating loss over the weekend, falling to a top-10 ranked opponent for the second time in this young season. The Gators dropped a 12-11 double overtime match to the No. 9 Syracuse Orange (2-2) at home in Gainesville after coming back from a two-goal deficit at halftime. Florida outscored Syracuse 6-4 in the second period, netting the final three goals of the half to force overtime. Both teams scored once in the first overtime period, but the Orange added a goal at 5:05 in the sudden death second overtime to pull out the win. The Gators outshot their opponents (39-26) and committed far fewer turnovers (9-20) but were unable to capitalize and earn the victory.
The Gators' successful weekend extended well past those three teams. Below are some accomplishments that the Florida athletic program achieved over the three-day span.
- No. 1 UF gymnastics (10-1) edged No. 6 Nebraska (10-2) on Sunday, picking up a tight 196.95-196.825 win despite only winning one of the four events outright. However, the Gators' 49.325 mark in the balance beam was just enough to push them past the Cornhuskers. Junior Ashanee Dickerson and sophomore Alaina Johnson tied to win the vault with a 9.90 mark, and junior Marissa King picked up a victory in the beam with a score of 9.925.
- Still unsigned by Cincinnati and set to become an unrestricted free agent next week, it appears as if safety Reggie Nelson may very well be moving on to a new team. Miami and Tennessee are both believed to be interested in Nelson, and the Dolphins may be where he winds up due to his history with the team's new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. After the Bengals traded for Nelson following a rough stint in Jacksonville, Coyle helped resurrect his career and is one of the reasons he had such an impressive season in 2011.
- No. 15 Florida women's tennis (8-1) defeated No. 5 Georgia 4-3 on the road in Athens, GA. Three of the Gators' four ranked singles competitors won their individual matches, but junior No. 1 Allie Will fell to No. 11 Chelsey Gillickson in a tough match. Will did, however, earn one a victory on Sunday as part of the No. 13-ranked doubles pairing with No. 39 sophomore Sofie Oyen.
- The No. 10 Florida men's tennis team was not as lucky as their female counterparts, falling to No. 6 Georgia by the same 4-3 final score. The Gators found themselves in a 3-0 deficit after losing the doubles point and the first two singles matches, but three-straight singles victories knotted the match up at 3-3. Junior No. 51 Bob van Overbeek, Florida's only ranked singles player, dropped a three-set heartbreaker to conclude the match, falling to No. 3 Wil Spencer 6-7(4), 6-0, 7-5.