Champion Gators muzzle potent Vanderbilt offense
Posted: Monday, May 30, 2011 2:19 pm
By: By JOHN ZENOR, AP Sports Writer
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — The Florida Gators found a way to shut down the SEC’s top offense, and just as many ways to score.
Alex Panteliodis and three Florida relievers combined to blank Vanderbilt 5-0 on Sunday for the Gators’ first conference tournament title since 1991 and sixth overall.
Florida (45-16) scattered nine hits and buckled down whenever Vanderbilt (47-10) threatened to score, which was fairly often.
It was the first championship game shutout since Vandy’s 13-0 win over Auburn in 1980.
“It all started on the mound for us, and Alex did a great job,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We knew we would have to pitch well to get on top of Vanderbilt.”
Both teams were awarded NCAA regional host sites during the game, and will find out Monday which teams they’ll face.
Panteliodis pitched 51⁄3 shutout innings in his first start against an SEC team this season.
He allowed five hits, struck out five and walked one.
The Commodores stranded seven in the first four innings and had runners on base all but two.
“I got in some jams, but the team helped me through it and even coach (O’Sullivan) told me to take my time and make the pitches, and if they hit it to let them hit it and let the defense do its job,” Panteliodis said.
Relievers Greg Larson, Nick Maronde and closer Austin Maddox kept Vandy from scoring.
“If we had to go to the bullpen early in the game, we were probably going to find ourselves in some trouble,” O’Sullivan said.
Florida found unconventional ways to score. The Gators got two unearned runs in the second on an infield single, a walk, a sacrifice bunt and two errors.
Florida then got another run in the seventh with two singles and Preston Tucker’s sacrifice fly, and added two more on a hit batter and walk in the eighth with the bases loaded.
The Commodores went 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position before Riley Reynolds’ two-out single in the bottom of the ninth after Jason Esposito opened with a double off Maddox for their only extra base hit.
Maddox then got Tony Kemp to pop up to complete the shutout.
“This one is tough to swallow just because of the way it happened and because it was for an SEC championship,” Commodores coach Tim Corbin said. “In 24 hours, we’re going to have to put this to bed.”
Now, they’ll host their first regional since 2007.
“It’s a big deal,” Hill said. “It’s something we’ve worked for and something coach talked to us about in our first meeting in August.”
The Commodores have been in the championship game four of the last six years, winning the title only once.
Vandy starter Taylor Hill allowed three runs, only one earned, in seven innings while striking out eight.
For Florida, Cody Dent drove in two runs on a sacrifice bunt and a bases-loaded walk.
Tournament MVP Daniel Pigott went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
He had nine hits and scored seven runs in four games after sitting out the opener against Mississippi State, when Tyler Thompson replaced him.
The Gators had to beat Georgia twice on Saturday to make the championship game while Vanderbilt remained in the winner’s bracket.
Florida made it a comfortable margin in the eighth inning, when its first five batters reached base.
Then. reliever Mark Lamm got out of the inning on a forceout at the plate and a double play.