Florida 2012 Baseball World Series Capsule

Florida Gators
SEC (40-16, 18-12)

Pegged before the start of the season as one of the teams to watch on the national-championship scene, Florida’s baseball team stumbled out of the starting gate when it lost to Cal State Fullerton in the third game of the year. The Gators then rattled off a fairly long winning streak before a loss to South Carolina. At the time of that loss to the Gamecocks, Florida was 20-2 overall and 3-1 in the Southeastern Conference. So what went wrong? Well, for a team that was projected as a national-title contender after a runner-up finish against South Carolina in 2011, the team went 20-14 down the stretch, playing .600 baseball before the SEC tournament started. This is a chance for the Gators to redeem themselves on a national scale.

Big Wins: 03/23 and 03/24 at South Carolina (8-2 and 5-4), 04/06 vs. LSU (7-0), 04/20 vs. Georgia (3-2, 16 innings)
Bad Losses: 04/03 at North Florida (10-5), 04/24 vs. South Florida (5-3), 05/12 vs. Mississippi State (2-0)
Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan (5 seasons at Florida)

Why They Can Surprise:
Keep in mind they were supposed to be one of the nation’s top teams but fell off the national radar screens a bit. Some people have already forgotten about Florida when it comes to national title chances, but the bats of Mike Zunino and Preston Tucker have helped to carry the Gators through some rough spots. Zunino has lived up to his preseason star billing with a .324 average, 15 home runs and 51 runs batted in heading into the SEC tournament. Teammate Preston Tucker (.321-14-43) has wielded a hot bat himself. A bigger reason why the Gators are projected to have a good run through the NCAA lies in their pitching staff. Four of the pitchers have earned run averages under 3.00 and one, Karsten Whitson, has an average of 3.07. Any one of the eight pitchers used as a starter during the season is capable of a good game at just the right time, so this could be an area to watch.

Why They Can Disappoint:
The schedule says it all. Florida lost to teams like Cal State-Fullerton, North Florida and South Florida. The Cal State loss can be forgiven a bit, because Cal State Fullerton is a west coast baseball powerhouse that plays in a smaller Division I conference, but North Florida and South Florida were games that Florida should have easily won. Although the SEC has a reputation as one of the toughest baseball conferences in all of the NCAA, Florida and South Carolina were a projected 1-2 in the conference. They did finish a half-game behind first-place South Carolina in the SEC East, tied with Kentucky for the runner-up spot, but the team could have done so much better. Who is to say the struggles Florida experienced in the regular season won’t extend into the NCAA tournament?

Key Field Players:
Mike Zunino, Junior, C, .324 BA, 15 HR, 51 RBI
Daniel Pigott, Senior, OF, .322 BA, 7 HR, 33 RBI
Preston Tucker, Senior, IF/OF, .321 BA, 14 HR, 43 RBI
Brian Johnson, Junior, 1B, .313 BA, 34 RBI
Nolan Fontana, Junior, IF, .281 BA, 9 HR, 27 RBI, 11 SB
Casey Turgeon, Freshman, IF, .259 BA, 20 RBI

Key Pitchers:
Austin Maddox, Junior, Pitcher, 1.46 ERA, 3-2 W/L, 49.1 IP, 54 SO, 12 SV
Greg Larson, Senior, Pitcher, 1.47 ERA, 6-0 W/L, 43.0 IP, 31 SO
Steven Rodriguez, Junior, Pitcher, 2.17 ERA, 3-2 W/L, 54.0 IP, 74 SO
Hudson Randall, Junior, Pitcher, 2.89 ERA, 7-1 W/L, 74.2 IP, 51 SO
Jonathan Crawford, Sophomore, Pitcher, 3.67 ERA, 4-2 W/L, 56.1 IP, 51 SO
Brian Johnson, Junior, Pitcher, 3.88 ERA, 6-4 W/L, 72.0 IP, 59 SO

By the Numbers:
Batting Average: .280 (120th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Offense: 5.8 (94, 4)
Doubles per Game: 1.75 (96, 4)
Triples per Game: 0.21 (154, 5)
Home Runs per Game: 1.18 (3, 1)
Slugging Percentage: .451 (15, 1)
Stolen Bases per Game: 0.91 (157, 6)
Earned Run Average: 2.92 (9, 2)
Fielding Percentage: .978 (12, 4)
Double Plays per Game: 0.57 (264, 11)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2011Regionaldefeated Manhattan, defeated Miami (FL), defeated Miami (FL)
2011Super Regionaldefeated Mississippi State 
2011CWSdefeated Texas, defeated Vanderbilt, defeated Vanderbilt
2011Championshipeliminated by South Carolina
2010Regionaldefeated Bethune-Cookman, defeated Oregon, defeated Florida Atlantic
2010Super Regionaldefeated Miami (FL)
2010CWSlost to UCLA, eliminated by Florida State
2009Regionaldefeated Bethune-Cookman, defeated Miami (FL), defeated Miami (FL)
2009Super Regionaleliminated by Southern Mississippi
2008Regionallost to Tulane, eliminated by Florida State
2005Regionaldefeated Stetson, defeated North Carolina, defeated Notre Dame
2005Super Regionaldefeated Florida State
2005CWSdefeated Tennessee, defeated Nebraska, lost to Arizona State, defeated Arizona State
2005Championshipeliminated by Texas

*all team stats through 5/20

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