Florida baseball routed by Jacksonville

Published: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 9:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 9:35 p.m.

It turned out to be “Flat Tuesday” at the ballpark for the No. 4 Florida Gators on Tuesday night.


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Who: Kentucky at Florida
When: Thursday at 7 p.m.
On radio: 103.7 FM

Coming off an emotional series victory at Vanderbilt over the weekend, the Gators seemed to have no energy left for in-state rival Jacksonville University at McKethan Stadium.

Lifeless at the plate, in the field and on the mound, the Gators were routed by the Dolphins 11-2 before a crowd of 2,987.

“You come back from an exciting Sunday, basically 48 hours ago, and come out and seem like we're not focused,” UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “Obviously, we didn't get a good start from A.P. (Alex Panteliodis). We told our guys before the game that JU has a good club and can swing the bats, and we need to be on our toes and carry over from the weekend.

“It's disappointing. You tell your team how you feel, but you've got to move past it.”

UF (39-14, 20-7 SEC) now will quickly turn its attention to the upcoming three-game home series with Kentucky on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Gators are tied with Vanderbilt and South Carolina for the overall SEC lead. A UF sweep would guarantee at least a share of the SEC regular-season title for the Gators.

JU improved to 33-18 with the one-sided victory.

“We have a chance to win an SEC championship this weekend,” O'Sullivan said. “We're right in the hunt with Vandy and South Carolina.

“As disappointing as this game is, we have to move on and be ready to go Thursday night. I'm not going to over-analyze it. We have a very good club and a lot of talented players. We can play with anybody we match up with in the country.

“For whatever reason, this team in mid-week games has not shown the ability to play good baseball. I've tried every play in the playbook. It comes down to the players playing.”

The Gators' only real positive Tuesday night came in the first inning, when catcher Mike Zunino launched a two-run home run to left-center that answered a three-run spot the Dolphins put up in the top of the inning.

“It's never easy to swallow a loss like that at home,” Zunino said. “We have to regroup tomorrow and refocus for the weekend (against Kentucky).”

Trailing 9-2, UF looked like it might stage a rally in the seventh, loading the bases with no outs. But the threat quickly died. Zack Powers lined into a double play, then Bryson Smith grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning — and any chance of the Gators coming back.

JU put the game away in the eighth on a two-run double by Adam Brett Walker to make it 11-2.

Panteliodis, who was sharp in a victory over North Florida a week ago, lasted only 2.2 innings, giving up four runs on four hits and throwing 55 pitches.

“It wasn't my best,” Panteliodis (4-2) said. “I wasn't very sharp. I wasn't throwing everything for strikes. My off-speed wasn't there tonight and fastball command was not there.

“I felt comfortable warming up in the bullpen. I just came out and started missing my spots. They hit the ball on my mistakes.”

NOTES: Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino will become a member of the 22-man roster for the

2011 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, it was announced on Tuesday. He will join Gator shortstop Nolan Fontana and left-hander/designated hitter Brian Johnson on the team. Zunino leads the Gators in nine different offensive categories, including batting average (.367), hits (123) RBI (51) and home runs (12). … Powers was set to return to the starting lineup Tuesday night, but was scratched just a few minutes before the start of the game. Powers injured his knee against Georgia a month ago. Powers, however, was used as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning. He struck out.

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