Florida lineup proves itself too powerful for Oregon State

By Anthony Chiang

As is often true with the sport of baseball, the game stayed true to the stats.

The Gators’ offense entered Saturday’s contest with a noticeable edge in the power department over the Beavers and it showed. No. 4 Florida’s (44-15) lineup came in with a combined 64 round-trippers this season, compared to Oregon State’s measly 22 – just five more than UF’s home-run leader Austin Maddox.

The advantage was evident as UF pounded three homers and seven extra-base hits in a 10-2 thumping of Oregon State (32-23) on Saturday after a one hour, 17-minute rain delay to seize control of the NCAA Gainesville Regional.

Freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana, who is not known as a power hitter, displayed UF’s strength right away with a lead-off home run to start the game. It was just his third of the season.

“That momentum just carried with us throughout the whole game,” second baseman Josh Adams said.

The Gators kept that 1-0 lead until the third when they exploded for seven runs.

But the inning looked like it was about to go to waste after UF loaded the bases with no outs and sophomore Preston Tucker lined into a double play.

However, just one at-bat later, Maddox salvaged the frame with a two-run single. It was the first of a string of five two-out hits off of Beavers pitcher Sam Gaviglio to push the Gators’ lead to 8-0.

“(Maddox’s hit) was huge,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It just got things going for us.”

Gaviglio, a ground-ball pitcher who pitched 7.2 scoreless innings and struck out a career-high 13 batters in his last outing, did not have the same sink on his stuff Saturday. He gave up eight runs, seven of them with two outs, in just 2.2 innings of work.

A two-run homer from Adams, who also hit a double in the fifth, capped off the seven-run frame.

“Not many teams can hit like that,” Adams said. “For us to be able to put it together – it’s something we haven’t seen very often this season. So it was fun to be able to enjoy it.”

That was all UF sophomore pitcher Alex Panteliodis would need.

He pounded the inside corner of the plate to strike out eight and limit Oregon State to only two runs in five innings. It was an encouraging outing considering the right-hander has posted a 5.09 ERA in the seven starts prior to Saturday’s contest.

“The fastball inside happened to work a lot tonight,” Panteliodis said. “(Oregon State) just wasn’t expecting it. They were looking away on two strikes.”

From there the bullpen took over to throw four scoreless frames.

Reliever Greg Larson turned in two of them as he used his sinker to induce two groundouts in that span and punch out three.

He has been an effective option out of the UF bullpen lately, as he has allowed just two runs in his last 12.2 innings pitched after carrying an 8.34 ERA into a May 7 game against Alabama. That number is now down to 5.86.

The victory puts the Gators into the driver’s seat of their regional. They will now meet the winner of Sunday’s 1 p.m. elimination game between FAU and Oregon State at 7 p.m on Sunday. If UF is able to win that game, it will clinch a berth in next weekend’s super regional.

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