Gators open season tonight against USF
Florida will open its 2010 baseball season tonight with the first of a three-game series against South Florida at 6:30 at McKethan Stadium. The Gators and Bulls will also meet at 2 p.m. on Saturday and at noon on Sunday.
It is the first time since 2001 that the Gators have opened the season with an in-state opponent.
This weekend’s series will mark the first time since 1990 that the Gators and Bulls have met over three-straight days. Interestingly, each of those three contests was played in a different city. USF earned a 3-2 victory in the opener played at Red McEwen Field before UF evened the series with a 2-1 win in St. Petersburg. The Gators posted a 6-2 win in the final game held at McKethan Stadium.
The Gators open the season ranked among the top 10 of the four major collegiate baseball polls: seventh in Baseball America, ninth in both Collegiate Baseball and USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ and 10th in the NCBWA. This was the highest preseason ranking for the squad since 2006, when Florida began No. 2 in three of the four listings following its runner-up performance at the 2005 NCAA College World Series.
Two Tampa natives may take the mound and start for the Gators this weekend. Florida is expecting a huge boost from the return of Tommy Toledo, who took a medical redshirt during the 2009 season while recovering from shoulder surgery. As a true freshman in 2008, he tied for third on the squad with 11 starts and was 4-4 with a 4.40 earned run average in 15 appearances. Over 59.1 innings, he gave up 60 hits and 36 runs (29 earned), with 32 walks and 30 strikeouts.
Toledo will start tonight against USF junior right-hander Randy Fontanez, the 2010 Big East Preseason Pitcher of the Year who was 7-3 with a 3.09 ERA last spring.
On Sunday, Tampa sophomore left-hander Alex Panteliodis may get the starting nod against USF junior Andrew Barbosa.