Mike Zunino Has Good Week; Signs With Seattle Mariners, Wins Golden Spikes Award

Former Florida Gators star Mike Zunino would probably classify this week as a good one. He might even go as far as to say it was a great one. In a matter of days, Zunino signed his first big league deal with the Seattle Mariners and followed that up by winning the Golden Spikes Award.

Zunino broke a record of sorts when the Mariners selected him with the No. 3 overall pick in the MLB Draft. That made the catcher the highest draft Gator in school history. It also made it clear he would not return to Florida for his senior season. That is a sure thing now as he has signed his name on the line. Zunino will received a signing bonus of $4 million, which is a great deal of money, but is actually about $1.2 million lower than slotted for the third overall pick. $4 million, $5.2 millon; we’re pretty sure Zunino can make it work.

Later in the week, Zunino put an end to his college career by winning the Golden Spikes Award. The award goes to the nation’s top amateur baseball player and Zunino is only the second player ever to win it, the Dick Howser Trophy and the Johnny Bench Award in the same season.*

*Florida State’s Buster Posey was the other one. A few years back, One Eyed Willy and I had a debate over whether the Tampa Bay Rays should take Posey or Tim Beckham No. 1 overall in the 2008 MLB Draft. I fought for Beckham, who the Rays did end up drafting. I was wrong, further proving I know little about the ins and outs of baseball. But I do take some comfort in the fact that the Rays were wrong too.

Baseball Recap: Kent State 5 – Florida 4; Gators Eliminated From College World Series

The team that started the 2012 season ranked No. 1 will not finish it that way. The top-ranked Florida Gators were eliminated from the College World Series on Monday night after a 5-4 loss to the Kent State Golden Flashes.

Toward the end of games, my mind goes over the various ways I can start recap posts. It usually lands on something like you read above. The teams are mentioned. The score is in there. Depending on the outcome, there’s either a ray of light or an aura of gloom about the first few sentences. As the Gators’ season came closer and closer to an end, I knew what I would write if that ended up being the case. What I didn’t know was how I was going to describe the thrilling comeback that would never come.

Florida entered the top of the ninth inning down one run with potentially three outs left in their season. Despite being down, there was hope in the form of Preston Tucker, Mike Zunino and Brian Johnson – all due up in the inning. Tucker walked on four-straight pitches; man on first. Another four balls and Zunino was now occupying first with Tucker in scoring position at second. Johnson wouldn’t bat, but would instead head to the bench in favor of Cody Dent who proceeded to lay down a sacrifice bunt to move Tucker and Zunino to third and second. Daniel Pigott came to the plate and after two more balls, was hit by a pitch. Bases loaded and my search for an opening line suddenly became necessary. It was going to happen. The Gators were going to win. Then they didn’t.

The rest was a blur. Strikes called that may or may not have been strikes followed by a fly out to end it. Not just the game, but the season as well. The nation’s top team was going home and suddenly the collegiate athletics season was over for the Gators and their fans. They’ll be more to talk about over the long, hard summer, but for now that’s it. The end.

Florida Gators’ baseball recaps are sponsored by Ben Versnik and Advocare – a world-class nutrition company specializing in health and wellness, weight management, vibrant energy and sports performance.

Florida Gators Catcher Mike Zunino Wins Dick Howser Trophy

File this directly under “things we didn’t get around to last week, but are happy to discuss now.”

Florida Gators’ catcher Mike Zunino was named this season’s recipient of the Dick Howser Trophy, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate baseball player. Zunino is the first Gator to ever win the award and joins the likes of Robin Ventura, Todd Helton, J.D. Drew, Mark Teixeira, David Price, Buster Posey and Stephen Strausberg.

Zunino – expected to jump to the Majors after being selected third overall by the Seattle Mariners in this year’s MLB Draft – is batting .322 with 19 homeruns and 64 RBI.

We’re seeing the last few days of Zunino in a Gators’ uniform and (let’s hope not) Monday could be the last game he plays for Florida. The Gators will need everything he and the entire roster have as they look to fight off elimination.

Baseball Recap: Florida 7 – North Carolina State 1; Gators Edge One Step Closer To College World Series

The top-seeded Florida Gators got one step closer to the College World Series on Saturday. The Gators defeated the North Carolina State Wolfpack 7-1 in their NCAA Super Regional series opener to go up 1-0. The best-of-three series could come to an end on Sunday if Florida can get a second-straight victory over NC State.

Rain couldn’t keep the Gators down on Saturday. Despite downpours throughout the game, Florida out-muscled NC State on the scoreboard. A four-run third inning put the Gators ahead and a two-run homerun by junior catcher Mike Zunino made sure it stayed that way.

Junior starter Hudson Randall got the victory to improve to 9-2 on the season. Randall pitched seven strong innings, never allowing a run to the Wolfpack.

Game two will be played at 1:00pm on Sunday and can be seen on ESPNU.

Baseball recaps are sponsored by Ben Versnik and Advocare – a world-class nutrition company specializing in health and wellness, weight management, vibrant energy and sports performance.

Boston Red Sox Select Brian Johnson With 31st Pick In MLB Draft; Lewis Brinson, Lance McCullers, Jesse Winker Also Drafted

It was an eventful night for the Florida Gators with five current and future Gators selected in the first round and supplemental first round of the MLB Draft.

Junior catcher Mike Zunino started the night off after being selected third overall by the Seattle Mariners. Zunino became the highest drafted Gator in school history, but things didn’t end there. Junior pitcher Brian Johnson was selected No. 31 overall by the Boston Red Sox, becoming the last player selected in the first round. Three (potential) future Gators were also selected – Lewis Brinson, Lance McCullers and Jesse Winker.

Johnson – a jack of all trades at Florida – was selected as a pitcher and it appears that’s where the Red Sox will work him first. Equally as dangerous at the plate, there are plenty of possibilities for Johnson if he decides to forego his senior season at Florida and make the jump to the Major Leagues.

Brinson – a Coral Springs (Pompano Beach, FL) outfielder – was selected by the Texas Rangers with the No. 29 overall pick. One of the faster players in the draft, Brinson also has a great arm and possesses superb athleticism.

A left-handed pitcher from Jesuit (Tampa, FL), McCullers was one of the nation’s top high school players. It was rumored that he would be difficult to sign due to lower bonuses this year and that could have contributed to his fall to the Houston Astros at No. 41. Falling into the supplemental first round may have solidified McCullers choice to pitch at Florida.

Winker – an outfielder from Olympia (Orlando, FL) – was selected No. 49 overall by the Cincinnati Reds. Seen as a hitter with a big bat and the potential for plenty of power, Winker currently plays center field, but could move to the outside.

Mike Zunino Selected 3rd Overall In MLB Draft By Seattle Mariners

The Florida Gators’ 2012 baseball season isn’t over, but the future of one individual on the roster just became a little clearer. On Monday night, junior catcher and reigning SEC Player of the Year Mike Zunino was selected third overall in the first round of the MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners. Going third overall makes Zunino the highest selected Gator in the history of the draft. He is also the first Florida player to go in the first round since Matt LaPorta in 2007.

Zunino leads the Gators in most offensive statistical categories and has been one of the nation’s best players throughout his college career. Having played for a national runner-up last season, he has his sights on a championship this time around. Regardless of if Florida wins the title or not, Zunino’s days in orange and blue may be coming to an end. He has another season of eligibility left, but there is little else he has to prove at the college level. Being selected third overall may have sealed his fate. If you haven’t been watching Gators’ baseball this season, now would be a good time to start. These may be the last few days of one of the greatest to ever play for Florida.

Baseball Recap: Florida 15 – Georgia Tech 3; Gators Advance To NCAA Super Regional

The top-seeded Florida Gators beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 5-3 on Sunday to win the NCAA Gainesville Regional and advance to the NCAA Super Regional for the sixth time in school history. 2012 marks the fourth-straight season the Gators have advanced to the Super Regional.

Florida (45-18) used a little bit of everything to beat Georgia Tech (38-26). Senior center fielder Daniel Pigott and junior catcher Mike Zunino both drove in four runs and three different Gators crossed the plate three times each. Six pitchers combined to shut down the Yellow Jackets in the win, led by junior Brian Johnson who allowed just one run in five innings of work. Johnson improved to 8-4 on the season with the victory.

Florida doesn’t know its Super Regional opponent just yet, but the Gators do know they will host either Vanderbilt (35-27) or North Carolina State (42-18) in a three-game series next weekend. Florida swept Vandy in the regular season only to lose twice to the Commodores in the SEC Tournament. The Gators haven’t faced NC State this season.

Baseball recaps are sponsored by Ben Versnik and Advocare – a world-class nutrition company specializing in health and wellness, weight management, vibrant energy and sports performance.

Florida Gators Video Of The Day: Baseball’s “Call Me Maybe” Video

It’s the weekend and for most students out there, it’s the summer break. While that doesn’t mean much besides warmer air and more annoying kids outside for all of you year-long workers, summer means more free time for students. We hope that you will be spending more time reading The Bull Gator, as I will be spending more time posting at it. That means it’s time for a new series at TBG. The Gators Video of the Day (GVOD for short) will feature, you guessed it, videos relating to the Florida Gators. They could be Gators athletes or homemade videos made by fans like ourselves. And if you have any suggestions for GVOD, email me at evandagator@gmail.com or TBG at onegameback@gmail.com. We will try our best to live up to the “of the day” part of the title.

After Jonathon Crawford’s no-hitter on Friday, it’s only fitting to give the first GVOD of the year to the Florida baseball team. They produced a stunning version of Carly Rae Jepson’s Call Me Maybe on what looks to be a team bus. It’s great to see that the guys are having some fun.

Here’s the cast list for the video:

Hudson Randall on the vocals
First row – left to right – Casey Turgeon, Nolan Fontana, Vickash Ramjit, Brian Johnson.
Second row – Preston Tucker, Mike Zunino
Bathroom gypsy – Keenan Kish
Last row – Austin “Mud Dog” Maddox

Let us know what you think. Who had the best part in the video? How did Florida baseball compare to Harvard’s rendition?

Baseball Recap: Florida 6 – Georgia Tech 2; Gators Can Advance With 1 More Win

Although not quite as dramatic as Friday night’s victory, the Florida Gators did win again. On Saturday, the top-seeded Gators defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 6-2 on the second day of the NCAA Gainesville Regional. With just one more win, Florida advances to the NCAA Super Regionals.

The Gators victory was fueled by another impressive pitching performance. Juniors Hudson Randall and Steven Rodriguez combined to allow 12 hits, but only two runs. The two managed to get out of trouble numerous times throughout the game as Georgia Tech left 10 runners on base.

Florida only needed nine hits to seal the win as those nine resulted in six runs. Power came from the usual sources as both junior catcher Mike Zunino and senior right fielder Preston Tucker went deep in the game.

The Gators don’t know their Sunday opponent just yet, but they do know that one more win pushes them forward. Florida will face either Georgia Tech or the College of Charleston at 6:00pm.

Baseball recaps are sponsored by Ben Versnik and Advocare – a world-class nutrition company specializing in health and wellness, weight management, vibrant energy and sports performance.

Baseball Recap: Florida 10 – Auburn 1; Pitching Dominant, Bats Come To Life

The No. 3 Florida Gators looked like a complete baseball team in their 10-1 over the Auburn Tigers on Friday night. While the Gators’ offense was busy scoring 10 runs and collecting 12 hits, the pitching was putting together a one-run, two-hit performance. The victory gave Florida its 40th win of the season, improving the Gators’ record to 40-15 (18-11 SEC).

Senior right fielder Preston Tucker pushed his career hits record further as he went 3-for-5 with two runs, two RBI and his 14th homerun of the season. Junior catcher Mike Zunino and junior first baseman Vickash Ramjit also went deep. The blasts were Zunino’s team-leading 15th and Ramjit’s fifth.

One night after junior Hudson Randall pitched a complete game shutout, classmate Brian Johnson went seven strong innings. Johnson allowed just one run and only two hits to improve to 6-4 on the season.

The Gators and Tigers will do it one final time on Saturday at 2:00pm in the regular season finale.

Baseball recaps are sponsored by Ben Versnik and Advocare – a world-class nutrition company specializing in health and wellness, weight management, vibrant energy and sports performance.