Tuesday, February 28, 2017

UF Baseball: No. 2 Florida vs No. 17 Miami Series Recap

For the first time since 2012, the Florida Gators have swept the Miami Hurricanes! This past weekend in Gainesville, the Gators won all three games by scores of 1-0, 2-0, and 6-2. With this sweep, they have now beaten the 'Canes in three consecutive series! Here's a recap of each game.

Game 1 (February 24th)
On a bustling Friday night that saw an attendance of 5,385 fans, the No. 2 Florida Gators (4-1) prevailed over the No. 17 Miami Hurricanes (2-2) by a slim margin of 1-0.

Taking the mound for the opener was touted ace Alex Faedo (1-0, 2.70 ERA). He did not disappoint one bit. On a career-high 119 pitches, Faedo tossed 8.2 innings of shutout ball. He allowed just two hits the whole game, walked just one, and struck out eight Hurricanes. The two hits he gave up were a double to Edgar Michelangeli in the fifth inning and a soft single from Michael Burns in the seventh inning.

Faedo would have had the complete game shutout after inducing what seemed to be a game-ending groundout from Burns, but Dalton Guthrie bobbled it at shortstop. A stolen base and a walk to Johnny Ruiz prompted head coach Kevin O'Sullivan to pull Faedo after a masterful performance.

Coming in for the one-out save was Miami Shores product Frank Rubio. After a rough outing in Jacksonville on Tuesday, the former walk-on redeemed himself perfectly as he struck out clean-up hitter Romy Gonzalez to secure the win and earn his first save of 2017.

The Gators banged out eight hits off of Miami starter Jesse Lepore (1-1, 0.75 ERA), but their only run of the game came in the third inning. After a Dalton Guthrie walk and an Austin Langworthy single that moved him to third base, third-hole hitter Jonathan India strode to the plate. After taking a strike, the sophomore smacked a single past third base to plate Guthrie for the game's only run.

This was India's only hit of the contest as he turned in a 1-3 effort with a walk. Some other Gator offensive performances worth praising are junior Christian Hicks and sophomore Deacon Liput. Hicks was 2-4 with a pair of singles while Liput recorded the only Gator extra-base hit in the second inning with a leadoff triple. Unfortunately, he would not score as he was thrown out at the plate on a Keenan Bell groundout.

Final Takeaway
This game set the tone for the series as Florida used timely hitting and spectacular pitching to down the 'Canes. Before recapping Game 2, here are my final tidbits from the opener:

  • Miami starter Jesse Lepore turned in a good effort himself as he went six innings, allowed eight hits, struck out six, walked two, and hit just one batter (Keenan Bell).
  • In his three appearances agains Miami, Alex Faedo has a stat line of 21.1 innings pitched, one earned run, seven hits allowed, and 27 strikeouts. That is complete domination right there.
  • A Miami runner reached third base just once the whole game.
  • With this victory, Sully now has 400 wins in his coaching career!

Game 2 (February 25th)
In Game 2, the Mac was packed to the brim as 6,160 people showed up for the game. This was the second highest attendance total in program history! As for the game, the No. 2 Florida Gators (5-1) once again prevailed by the skin of their teeth as they defeated the No. 17 Miami Hurricanes (2-3) by a score of 2-0.

Making his first start against the 'Canes, Brady Singer (2-0, 0.71 ERA) turned in a marvelous performance. Tossing 7.2 shutout innings, the sophomore flamethrower allowed just five hits while walking three and striking out 11 Hurricanes. After a career-high 109 pitches, he was relieved in the eighth inning in favor of Nick Horvath with runners on first and second.

Horvath responded to the pressure perfectly. On five pitches, the junior lefty struck out third-hole designated hitter Johnny Ruiz to end the threat and preserve the 2-0 lead.

In the ninth inning, senior Frank Rubio came on again in an attempt to earn his second save of the year. He induced a first-pitch groundout from Edgar Michelangeli, a groundout from Romy Gonzalez, and struck out Greg Veliz to end the game and win the series. He needed just nine pitches to do it.

Florida had just three hits the whole game and two of them were home runs. In the third inning, third-string catcher Mark Kolsovary launched a 2-1 pitch over the left field fence for his first bomb of the season. Three innings later, Jonathan India again terrorized the 'Canes as he hit the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for his second dinger of the year.

The only other Gator to register a base knock was Deacon Liput. He went 1-3 with a double in the second inning.

Final Takeaway
After securing a third straight series win over the Hurricanes, Florida set their eyes on the sweep. Before recapping Game 3, here are my final tidbits on the close Game 2 victory:

  • Miami did threaten with runners on first and third with one out in the fifth inning, but Singer induced a 5-4-3 double-play ball (third to second to first) to keep the 'Canes scoreless.

*All stats accredited to FloridaGators.com

Game 3 (February 26th)
In the final game of the series, a good amount of fans still showed up as 5,262 were in attendance for the 1 p.m. start time. The No. 2 Florida Gators (6-1) finished the job off as they defeated the No. 17 Miami Hurricanes (2-4) by a score of 6-2.

Jackson Kowar (2-0, 1.59 ERA) got the start and delivered a fine performance on this Sunday afternoon. In 5.2 innings of work, he allowed just one earned run on four hits as he walked three and struck out seven with one hit batsman.

After 89 pitches coupled with a walk and a single in the sixth, Kowar was pulled for Michael Byrne with the score 4-1. The sophomore recorded a strikeout to end the threat and in the seventh he sandwiched two walks in-between a double play. After his second free pass, Byrne was relieved for true freshman Austin Langworthy.

As had been the trend in the series, Langworthy recorded a strikeout to escape the jam and went on to finish the game. His final stat line was 2.1 innings thrown, one earned run allowed, and three strikeouts.

Florida trailed early after a solo home run in the fourth inning, but the Gators responded quickly as they put up a three-run spot in that very same inning. They would then proceed to tack on a run in the fifth through seventh innings.

Dalton Guthrie had himself a day. He went 3-4 with a double, two RBI's, and a walk. The only other Gator with multiple hits was Christian Hicks. He went 2-3 with a run scored and was responsible for tying the game with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. This was one of three sacrifice flies for Florida as JJ Schwarz and Nelson Maldonado also plated one run a piece via deep fly outs.

The Gators pummeled Miami's pitching for 10 hits and also bested the 'Canes on the base paths as Ryan Larson, Deacon Liput, and Nick Horvath all nabbed a stolen base.

Final Takeaway
It was a very successful series for Florida as they upped their winning streak over Miami to four games. Before looking ahead to this week, here are my final tidbits on both Game 3 and the series as a whole:

  • Guthrie's double was his second of the year.
  • Larson's stolen bag was his second of the season while Liput's and Horvath's were their firsts.
  • With a total attendance of 16,807, the 2017 Miami series now marks the most attended weekend home stand in Gator baseball history!
  • It was a rough series for potential first rounder JJ Schwarz as he went 1-10 with an RBI, one walk, and five strikeouts.
  • The only player to account for Miami's offense all weekend was sophomore third baseman Romy Gonzalez. Both runs in the Sunday game came from solo home runs off his bat in both the fourth and eighth innings.
  • Miami made three total errors in the series while Florida had just one.

*All stats accredited to FloridaGators.com

Looking Ahead
Riding the momentum from a big sweep, the No. 2 Florida Gators will now play a mid-week series against the UCF Knights (7-0) in both Gainesville and Orlando before returning to Gainesville to host Columbia (0-0) in a three-game set. Barring my health, I should be working all three of the Columbia games.

As expected, the probable starters for the Columbia series will be Alex Faedo on Friday night, Brady Singer on Saturday afternoon, and Jackson Kowar on Sunday afternoon. For the UCF game tonight, true freshman Nate Brown will be making his first career start.

Game time for the UCF contests are both at 6:30 p.m. Tonight's game can be seen on the SEC Network and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network. Tomorrow's game can only be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.



Thursday, February 23, 2017

UF Baseball: No. 2 Florida Drops First Game to Jacksonville in Stunning Fashion

This past Tuesday, the No. 2 Florida Gators (3-1) lost their first game of the year to the Jacksonville Dolphins (3-1) by a score of 3-2. Florida led the entire game and took a 2-0 lead into the ninth inning before imploding in the final frame. The bullpen gave up three runs and spoiled what was an outstanding start from sophomore righty Michael Byrne.

Byrne (1-0) was great in his seven innings of work. Throwing 86 pitches, he allowed no earned runs on seven hits and struck out eight. After Byrne's departure, junior lefty Nick Horvath entered and worked a fine eighth inning. He gave up a leadoff single and then immediately erased it with a double play ground ball. He then struck out the next batter for a scoreless inning of relief.

Once the ninth inning rolled around, everything changed. Senior righty Frank Rubio came on to close it out and gave up two consecutive hits to start the frame. After striking out the next batter, Rubio was pulled in favor of true freshman lefty Andrew Baker.

Appearing in his first high-pressure situation, Baker threw a wild pitch that allowed the runners to advance to second and third. With no outs still and the count on five-hole hitter Sam Armstrong at 3-1, Baker served up a game-tying double to left field. The two runs were charged to Rubio.

With the game slipping through their fingertips, Florida intentionally walked the next two batters to load the bases. In addition, Nick Horvath went into center field as a defensive replacement for sophomore Blake Reese. Now with the bases loaded and just one out, Jacksonville's eight-hole hitter Scott Dubrule strode to the plate.

Without hesitation, Dubrule swung at the first pitch and smoked the ball past third baseman Jonathan India for a walk off single. It was jubilation for the Dolphins and utter shock for the Gators. For Baker, it would be the first loss of his young collegiate career.

The Gators banged out just eight hits and scored only one run in both the second and third innings. Just two Gators had multiple hits, and they were junior shortstop Dalton Guthrie and senior outfielder Ryan Larson.

With a 2-4 effort, Guthrie scored the game's second run in the third inning and also stole his second bag of the year. Larson went 2-3 with a pair of singles. Florida's only extra base-hit came from Nick Horvath when he doubled with one out in the top of the fifth inning. He finished the contest 1-3.

The only RBI's for the Gators came on groundouts. In the second inning, junior catcher Mike Kolozsvary plated Mike Rivera on a fielder's choice to second base. In the third inning, Jonathan India grounded out to second base to score Dalton Guthrie. Though they drove in the only Gator runs of the day, both these aforementioned hitters combined for an 0-7 performance.

Final Takeaway
This was a tough loss for many Gator baseball fans to stomach, but there is no need to overreact to a Tuesday loss in February. Before giving my final thoughts and previewing the Miami series, here are my final tidbits from the Jacksonville game:

  • This is the first time Florida has lost to Jacksonville since 2014 at the Mac. They also gave up three runs in that loss.
  • Florida's 13-game regular season winning steak against Floridian opponents is now over.
  • Florida had not lost a Tuesday regular season game since the April 14th walk off loss the Florida State Seminoles in the 2015 season.
  • The last time Florida lost to Jacksonville on the road was on March 26th, 2008.

The No. 2 Florida Gators need to move past this loss quick as the rival No. 17 Miami Hurricanes (2-1) are coming to town this weekend. As I have stated before, the Gators have not lost a series to the 'Canes since my freshman year in 2014.

The probable starters for this weekend will probably be Florida's Alex Faedo (0-0) vs Miami's Jesse Lepore (1-0) on Friday night, Brady Singer (1-0) vs Jeb Bargfeldt (1-0) on Saturday night, and Jackson Kowar (1-0) vs Michael Mediavilla (0-1) on Sunday afternoon.

The first pitch for the two night games are schedule for 6:30 p.m. with the afternoon game set for 1 p.m. All of the games can be seen on the SEC Network and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.

As for Jacksonville, they will carry the momentum of this huge upset victory into their weekend series with the Georgia State Panthers (3-0). First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.

*All stats accredited to FloridaGators.com



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

UF Basketball: No. 13 Florida Crushes South Carolina in Rematch

The No. 13 Florida Gators (23-5, 13-2 SEC) won their ninth straight game with a convincing 81-66 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks (20-6, 10-5 SEC). It was 35-32 in favor of the Gators entering halftime, but an offensive explosion coupled with great defense helped Florida run away with this one in the second half. At one point, their largest lead was 18 points with 3:33 remaining in the game!

Florida's Leading Men
Three of Florida's starting five scored in double-digits with sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen posting a game-high 26 points. He shot 5-7 on his field goal attempts (3-5 from three-point land) while making all but one of his team-high 14 free throws.

Allen also totaled a team-high seven rebounds with three assists, one block, and two steals. Also worth mentioning is the fact he did not commit ANY personal fouls in 36 minutes of playing time.

The next leading scorer in the starting lineup was junior forward Devin Robinson. D-Rob went 5-9 from the field (3-6 on his three-point attempts) as he scored 14 points. On the boards, he brought down six rebounds while leading the team with three blocks and recording two steals.

The final Gator starter in double-digits was senior guard Kasey Hill. He took the most shot attempts among his teammates as he went 4-10 from the field. He had two assists and one steal as well.

Off the bench, Chris Chiozza made his 24 minutes of playing time count. In that span, he netted 12 points while shooting 3-6 and making his lone three-point attempt. He was 5-6 from the line and also led the team with four assists while corralling three rebounds and notching a steal.

South Carolina's Leading Men
Though they were soundly defeated, the Gamecocks had two players who got after it against the Gators. The first player (to no one's surprise) was senior guard Sindarius Thornwell. He shot 6-12 from the field while scoring 23 points and reeling in 10 rebounds for a double double. He made all 11 of his free throws and accounted for three of his team's seven assists.

Along with Thornwell, senior guard Duane Notice registered 16 points on a 5-11 shooting effort. He made two of his six three-point attempts and went 4-5 from the free throw line.

Final Takeaway
Unlike their trip to Columbia, the Gators 1) won the game and 2) made a three-pointer (nine to be exact). South Carolina, on the other hand, only made 3 of their 14 shots from beyond the arc. Before looking ahead to No. 13 Florida's next matchup, here are my final tidbits on the South Carolina win:

  • Filling in for the injured John Egbunu for the second straight game, Kevarrius Hayes led the team with three steals in 24 minutes of playing time. He totaled six rebounds (three offensive and three defensive) in the contest.
  • This is Florida's first home win over South Carolina since January 8, 2014.
  • The only player to foul out of the game was South Carolina's Chris Silva with 38.6 seconds remaining in the second half.
  • The attendance tonight was 11,051. This is the second highest in the history of the renovated O-Dome. Obviously, Kentucky holds the top spot with an attendance of 11,171.

Looking to extend their win steak to double-digits, the Gators will be tasked with quite a challenge as they head to Rupp Arena to take on the No. 11 Kentucky Wildcats (23-5, 13-2 SEC). For anyone who forgot, the Gators absolutely stomped the Wildcats at the O-Dome with an 88-66 victory in their February 4th meeting. 

Now in the rematch, it's safe to say that Kentucky will be looking for revenge. It does not help Florida either that Egbunu is out and that the Rowdies won't be there to get in the Wildcats' heads. This Gator team is good, but in my opinion they won't have enough in the tank to take down Kentucky in Rupp.

The last time Florida beat Kentucky in Rupp was my freshman year on February 15, 2014, by a score of 69-59. Since then, the Gators have lost by scores of 67-50 and 80-61 in Lexington. Hopefully this year's contest up there will be a more competitive one. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. The game can be seen on CBS and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network. Whoever wins will have sole possession of first place in the SEC.

As for South Carolina, they have now dropped three straight games and are also three games out of first place in the SEC. They will look to right the ship as they return to Columbia to take on the Tennessee Volunteers (15-12, 7-7 SEC). Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.



Monday, February 20, 2017

UF Baseball: No. 2 Florida vs William & Mary Series Recap

Gator baseball is back! To me it feels like Christmas as the Orange and Blue opened up their 2017 campaign against the William & Mary Tribe this weekend.

I'll get this out of the way right now. With me working two jobs, I will be writing my baseball recap articles in a different format. As opposed to writing after each and every weekend game, I am going to group them together into a series recap which I have done for previous contests last season. This will be more effective and will keep all the game information in one central location.

With that being said. Let's get started!

Game 1 (February 17th)
The No. 2 Florida Gators (1-0) opened up 2017 on the right note with a 5-4 comeback victory over the William & Mary Tribe. At one point Florida trailed 4-1 in the game, but two-run spots in both the fifth and seventh innings helped propel the Gators past the Tribe.

Junior ace Alex Faedo (0-0) toed the mound as the new proclaimed Florida ace and earned a no decision in his 4.2 innings of work. Throwing 80 pitches, Faedo allotted four hits and four earned runs, walked three, struck out seven, and hit one batter. He exited the game with the Gators down 2-1 in the fifth with Tribe runners on first and second.

Alex Faedo
Relieving him was junior Nick Hovath, who gave up a two-out triple on a ball that passed the outstretched glove of newly converted outfielder Blake Reese. After the triple though, Horvath settled down and retired the next four batters. He struck out one.

When the seventh inning rolled around, sophomore Michael Byrne replaced Horvath. Working three fantastic relief innings of one-hit ball, Byrne struck out four and kept the Tribe bats quiet as he was awarded the first Gator pitching win of the season.

Offensively, the Gators banged out eight hits and scored in the first, fifth, and seventh innings. Junior designated hitter JJ Schwarz led the way as he went 1-3 with a game-high 3 RBI's and a hit by pitch.

In the leadoff spot, junior shortstop Dalton Guthrie went 2-5 with a run scored and a stolen base. One of his hits was a beautiful bunt single in the seventh inning. Right behind Guthrie, sophomore second baseman Deacon Liput went 1-4 with an RBI fielder's choice in the second inning.

At the bottom of the lineup, sophomore center fielder Blake Reese went 2-2 with a run scored and one walk before being replaced in the ninth inning by Ryan Larson.

Also worth mentioning is how Florida took the lead in the seventh. Though he had a rough day at the plate, sophomore Jonathan India reached base via a throwing error. Ending up at second as a result of the error, India advanced to third on a JJ Schwarz groundout that tied the game.

Not too long later, a ball skipped by Tribe catcher Hunter Smith and India dashed towards the plate. The tag from reliever Nick Raquet was not in time as India dove into home head first and Florida had gained their first lead of the game.

Final Takeaway
This was Florida's fourth straight win on Opening Night and set the tone for a monster offensive outing in the following game. Before recapping Game 2, here are my final tidbits on the game:

  • The audience on the Mac was announced at 5,402, making it the third largest opening night crowd in Gator history.
  • In addition to Guthrie, Christian Hicks, Nelson Maldonaldo, and Mike Rivera all stole their first base of the season in this game.
  • With this close win, the Gators have now won four straight games on Opening Night!

All stats accredited to FloridaGators.com

Game 2 (February 18th)
In Game 2 of the series, the No. 2 Florida Gators (2-0) captured their first series victory of 2017 with a dominating 8-1 victory over the William & Mary Tribe (0-2).

Taking the mound for the Gators was sophomore flamethrower Brady Singer (1-0). He put on a very good showing in his first opening weekend start as he allowed one earned run on three hits in five innings pitched. He struck out six, walked none, and hit two batters on his way to his first victory of 2017. He threw 82 pitches in the contest.

After Singer was pulled at the start of the sixth, true freshman Austin Langworthy came on in relief. The local product out of Williston was phenomenal. He tossed 2.2 innings, allowed no runs on three hits, and struck out two.

After Langworthy, senior sidearmer Frank Rubio came in for just one out. It was a big one though as Rubio induced a groundout on two pitches with runners on first and third in eighth. Once Frank did his job, another true freshman in Andrew Baker donned the rubber. The 5'9 lefty shut the door perfectly as he struck out two and recorded his first collegiate putout to clinch the series victory.

At one point Florida trailed this game 1-0 in the second inning, but that would not be for long. The Gator offense exploded for nine runs and 13 hits in this game as the Orange and Blue scored in the second, third, seventh, and eighth innings.

The top four of the lineup balled out with all but Dalton Guthrie accumulating multiple hits. In the two-hole, Deacon Liput went 2-5 with a double and two runs scored. Behind him, Jonathan India bounced back from a hitless night as he went 3-5 with the first Gator home run of the year, three RBI's, and two runs scored.

In the cleanup spot, JJ Schwarz was a perfect 3-3 as he scored twice, walked once, and logged his lone RBI on a sac fly in a three-run third inning. Also worth mentioning is seven-hole hitter Ryan Larson. The senior outfielder went just 1-4 but his lone hit was a big one as he singled in two to give the Gators a 2-1 lead in the second inning. He also stole his first bag of the season in the second as well.

The final hitter I'll mention is freshman Keenan Bell. Making his first collegiate batting appearance as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, Bell smoked a ball into left field to record both his first hit and RBI as a Florida Gator. It had to be a special moment for him I'm sure!

Final Takeaway
Compared to the close contest on Friday, the No. 2 Florida Gators were in control most of the way during this game. Before recapping the series finale, here are my final tidbits for the series clincher:

  • The first Gator error of 2017 occurred in this game as JJ Schwarz made an errant throw to Brady Singer covering first base in the fourth inning. For perspective, JJ started at first base in this game.
  • India's homer came in the eighth inning with Florida well in control and with one runner on base.
  • In addition to pitching, Austin Langworthy also got to hit in the game. He went 1-2 with his first collegiate hit coming via a single in the sixth inning. He also stole his first collegiate base shortly thereafter.

Game 3 (February 19th)
In the series finale, the No. 2 Florida Gators (3-0) capped off opening weekend with an 11-6 victory over the William & Mary Tribe (0-3). With this win, the Gators earned their first sweep of the 2017 campaign.

Making his first Sunday start, sophomore righty Jackson Kowar (1-0) got the job done. In 5.2 innings of work, Kowar allowed three runs (one earned) on two hits. He struck out 10 Tribe batters while walking just one. After 84 pitches and a small Tribe rally in the sixth, Kowar's fantastic day was over.

Relieving Kowar was Andrew Baker on a consecutive day of work. He was again very effective as he allowed one hit in 1.1 innings of relief while striking out two. After Baker, fellow true freshman Nate Brown entered the contest in the eighth inning.

He had a rough debut to say the least, as he was tagged for three earned runs on three hits and walked a batter. However, he did strike out two hitters. Fortunately, the game was well in hand as Florida led 11-3 when Brown entered the game. After getting the nerves are out of his system, it can safely be assumed Brown will be lights out as the season progresses.

The ninth inning was a two-man task as true freshman Tyler Dyson needed just 10 pitches to dispose of the first two Tribe batters. He wouldn't see the end of the inning though, as Coach Kevin O'Sullivan opted to go with another true in Nick Long for the final out. After walking a batter, Long registered a strikeout for the final out and the series sweep.

Florida's offense concluded this series with a bang as the Gators put up 11 runs on 12 hits. They scored once in the first inning, put up six in the second, and also scored two runs a piece in the fourth and seventh innings. At one point they led the game 9-0.

Four Gators had multiple hits in the finale. Leadoff man Dalton Guthrie went 2-3 with a leadoff double, and three runs scored. He would leave the game in the fifth inning, but only because Sully was resting him.

The next multi-hit man in the lineup was junior designated hitter Mike Rivera. He went 2-3 with two RBI's and a run scored. Right behind him was the leading man of the day in true freshman Austin Langworthy. He was an offensive monster as he went 3-4 with both a double and his first collegiate home run in that six-run second inning. He plated two runs while scoring twice himself.

Behind Langworthy, fellow true freshman Keenan Bell swung the bat nearly as well. He went 2-4 and also hit his first collegiate home run as he drove in two runs, scored twice, and stole his first collegiate bag. Rounding out the Gator lineup is three-hole man Deacon Liput.

He went just 1-5, but his lone hit was a big one as he drilled a three-run bomb over the right field fence in the second inning to give Florida a 7-0 advantage. It was his first homer of the 2017 season as well.

Final Takeaway
The No. 2 Florida Gators flexed their muscles in this series as they pounded the Tribe in two of the three games. Before previewing the week ahead, here are my tidbits for the series finale:

  • Bell's first career homer came in the seventh inning with a runner on base.
  • Though he went hitless, Jonathan India still contributed as he drove in the first run of the game via a sacrifice fly. He scored once, was hit by a pitch, and drew a walk as well.
  • Dating back to the 2015 season, the Florida Gators have now won 32 consecutive home games against non-conference opponents after this weekend sweep.
  • Christian Hicks stole his second bag of the season in this game.
  • The Gators were a tad sloppy on the left side of the infield today as both Dalton Guthrie and Christian Hicks made errors. These would not come back to haunt Florida though.

Looking Ahead
The Gators will be back in action this Tuesday as they head to Jacksonville (2-1) to take on the Jacksonville Dolphins. They will then meet the Dolphins at the Mac on Wednesday to conclude the weekday mini-series.

After Jacksonville, the Gators will receive their first real test of the season as the No. 17 Miami Hurricanes (2-1) come to town. The Gators won the series in Gainesville two years ago and have not dropped a series to the 'Canes since my freshman year in 2014.

This will be a fun series with a lot of future MLB talent on the field. I am blessed to be ushering all three games and cannot wait to see what incredible moments will arise during this year's meeting.

I will try to write about the Jacksonville games this week depending how work goes. If I am unable to, keep an eye out for these series recap articles every Sunday/early Monday morning. I am very glad that Gator baseball is back! I know it is going to yet again be another fun season!



Saturday, February 11, 2017

UF Basketball: No. 17 Florida Defeats Texas A&M at Home for 20th Win

For the 23rd time in program history, the Florida Gators have won 20 games in a season! The No. 17 Gators (20-5, 10-2 SEC) reached the magic number this year with a 71-62 home victory over the Texas A&M Aggies (13-11, 5-7 SEC). Similar to Tuesday's contest against Georgia (13-11, 4-7 SEC), this game was close until Florida ran away with it in the last five minutes of regulation.

Florida's Leading Men
Off the bench, junior backup point guard Chris Chiozza again made an impact as he scored 11 points with five assists and four rebounds. Although he went 1-5 from the field, Chiozza feasted from the free throw line as he converted 8 of his game-high 10 attempts.

Also making some noise off the bench was graduate transfer Canyon Barry made history today. Going 4/4 from the charity strike, Barry now holds the Gator record with 39 consecutive free throws made.

His underhand style may be ridiculed and abnormal to some, but it can't be denied that it is effective and pretty foolproof. I offer my congratulations to Canyon. In addition to the record, he also dropped 12 points (which was the second most among Gator players this afternoon).

For Florida's starters, senior forward Justin Leon and redshirt junior center John Egbunu led the way. Leon shot 7 of 15 from the field and drained 50% of his three-pointers (four of eight). He scored a game-high 18 points while corralling five rebounds (three which were offensive).

Egbunu messed around and got a double-double as he scored 10 points and hauled in 10 rebounds on a four of five shooting effort. He made three of his four three throw attempts while also recording two blocks.

Texas A&M's Leading Men
In a losing effort, the Aggies still had some guys who lit up the scoreboard. Among their starters, three registered double-digit scoring efforts. They were freshman forward Robert Williams, sophomore center Tyler Davis, and sophomore guard Admon Gilder.

Williams equated Justin Leon with a game-high 18 points of his own while also shooting 7 of 15 from the field. He made all four of his free throws, corralled a game-high 12 rebounds (five offensive) for the double-double, notched three steals, and also had a game-high four blocks. Williams literally did everything he could in a tough losing effort.

The next leading man for the Aggies was Tyler Davis. The 6'10 center made 5 of his 10 field goals while racking up 12 points. He brought down eight rebounds but committed a game-high six turnovers. Rounding out the Aggie leaders, Admon Gilder also scored 12 points. He shot a subpar 4 of 13 from the field but did record a game-high five steals.

Final Takeaway
No. 17 Florida trailed for about six minutes in the early-to-mid stages of the second half before snatching away the lead for good. With their victory today, the Gators have now upped their winning streak to six games. They remain tied with No. 15 Kentucky (20-5, 10-2 SEC) and No. 19 South Carolina (19-5, 9-2 SEC) for first place in the SEC.

The Gators continue to play well and will look to keep that going as they travel to Auburn (16-8, 5-6 SEC) on Valentine's Day. For a single guy like me, a Gator victory over the Tigers is all I'm gonna need to be happy on this "holiday".

Jokes aside though, Florida should take care of business to keep up the pace in the SEC race. Tipoff for this game is at 7 p.m. It can be seen on the SEC Network and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.

As for Texas A&M, they get some time off before heading to Nashville to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores (12-12, 5-6 SEC) next Thursday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPN2.

*All stats accredited to ESPN.com



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

UF Basketball: No. 17 Florida Defeats Georgia to Sweep Regular Season Series

The No. 17 Florida Gators (19-5, 9-2 SEC) swept their regular season series against the Georgia Bulldogs (13-11, 4-7 SEC) with a 72-60 victory in Athens tonight. The game was close for a bit as Florida led 35-33 at the half, however the Gators were just too much for the Dawgs in the second half.

Florida's Leading Men
The Gators were led by backup point guard Chris Chiozza. Playing 28 minutes in the contest, Chiozza dropped a team-high 15 points with two assists, four rebounds, and four steals. He shot 6 of 10 from the field, sinking two of his five three-point attempts. Chiozza has really picked it up these last few games, and continues to be an important cog to the Gators success in the new year.

Another important performance off the bench came from Canyon Barry. In 25 minutes of action, the graduate transfer registered 11 points while going a perfect 4/4 with his underhanded free throws. He also logged two steals, a block, and five rebounds.

The final bench player I'll mention is power forward Kevarrius Hayes. It was not about his offensive production (he scored just five points) but instead more about his presence in the paint. Hayes blocked a team-high four shots while coming down with five rebonds, three which were offensive.

Among the starters, both point guard Kasey Hill and small forward Justin Leon led the way. Hill led the team with 30 minutes played and in that span he scored 12 points with a game-high five assists. He had two steals and made both of his free throw attempts as well.

Leon had 10 points on the night while shooting an impressive 4 of 7 from the field. He brought down a team-high seven boards with one of them being offensive. He recorded two steals as well.

Georgia's Leading Men
For Georgia, they were led by the tandem of small forward Yante Manten and guard J.J. Frazier. Scoring a game-high 19 points, Manten went 7 of 15 on his field goal attempts. He made all but one of his five shots from the charity strike and dished out two assists with one block. His five turnovers led all players on the night.

Frazier kept up with Manten as he logged 18 points on a 5 of 13 shooting effort. He made 6 out of 9 free throws while corralling eight rebounds and notching two steals.

The final member of Georgia's starting five worth mentioning is power forward Derek Ogbeide. He had just two points for the whole game, but gave Florida problems on the interior. He collected a game-high 10 rebounds while blocking four shots.

Final Takeaway
I thought this would be a tough game for the No. 17 ranked Gators after they needed overtime to escape the Dawgs at home. Fortunately, I was wrong. Florida responded to the somewhat hostile Georgia crowd in a very positive way as they sank 13 of their 16 free throw attempts and turned the ball over just eight times.

With this victory tonight and No. 19 South Carolina (19-5, 9-2 SEC) falling to Alabama (14-9, 7-4 SEC), Florida is now in a three-way tie for first place in the SEC with No. 15 Kentucky (19-5, 9-2 SEC) and the Gamecocks.

The Gators will look to maybe seize first place outright as they return to Gainesville to face the Texas A&M Aggies (12-10, 4-6 SEC) on the 11th. Tipoff is set for noon and the game can be seen on ESPN2.

As for Georgia, they fall to 0-5 against teams ranked in the AP Top 25. They have lost three straight games now and are the third worst team in the SEC. They will try to get back on track as they head to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers (13-10, 5-5 SEC). Tipoff is at 4 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPNU.

*All stats accredited to FloridaGators.com