Florida Gators open NCAA Baseball Regional with 17-3 win over Manhattan

Florida wracked up 23 hits and scored 17 runs in a 17-3 win over Manhattan Friday afternoon in the first game of the NCAA Baseball Gainesville Regional.

Tampa's Preston Tucker went 3-of-6 and had two home runs and five RBI in the victory.

"When you see the other guys hitting in front of you it gives you a lot of confidence,'' Tucker said. "Early in the week, I got with (UF catcher) Mike Zunino and he's been one of our most consistent hitters all year and we went over what his (Manahattan pitcher) approach was and what he does in certain counts. It was just being a little relaxed at the plate and it payed off.''

Freshman pitcher Karsten Whitson earned the win for the Gators, going 3.1 innings allowing just two hits and registering three strikeouts.

Eight Gator players had multiple hits in the game.

"I think for us today we got off to a great start offensively,'' Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We weren't expecting that type of run support early on. We were hoping we could get a lead. I thought we put some really good at-bats together, and Karsten gave us a great start. We pulled him after 45 pitches or so to hopefully have him possibly available during the rest of the weekend. But overall it was a great game.''

Manhattan pitcher John Soldinger gave up 16 runs in two innings, 15 earned.

“It was a tough game for us,’’ Manhattan coach Kevin Leighton said. ‘We were expecting a little bit more, but you’ve got to tip your cap to Florida, they have a very good team. It seemed like every time the swung they got a hit. It was a rough outing for our guy Johnny (Soldinger). It was like a flood and we didn’t have enough sandbags to stop it. We battled back and we’ll keep battling tomorrow.’’

The Gators (46-16) will play Miami (37-21) today at 4 p.m. at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville.

"It's definitely a huge rivalry,'' Tucker said. "We know what we're getting with Miami. They know how to compete, they are a very confident team. We play them every year, we know it's going to be good crowd, it's going to be a whole lot of fun, it's going to be a close game. I'm looking forward to it and I know everyone else is.''

[Last modified: Friday, June 3, 2011 7:15pm]

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