For the Gators, senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) was 2-for-3 to match Mark Ellis’ school-record total of 319 career hits.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on a bases-loaded, two-out triple by Irby (2-for-5) off of freshman Johnny Magliozzi (East Milton, Mass.) (4-3). Senior Brad Moss singled through the left side with one out and sophomore Phillip Ervin (2-for-4, two runs) singled into center field with two down before Miller drew a free pass to fill the bags. Irby helped his own cause with a triple to deep center field that gave Bulldogs a three-run cushion.
A two-run homer by junior Zeth Stone over the right-field wall in the second inning moved the hosts ahead by a 5-0 count. Sophomore Tyler Filliben (3-for-3) legged out a bunt single up the third-base line with one down and Stone followed with his first round-tripper of the season. Consecutive two-out singles by Saxon Butler (2-for-4) and Ervin ended the night for Magliozzi (1.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R). Freshman Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) caught Miller looking on strikes to end the frame.
Freshman Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) drew a one-out walk from Irby in the third and stole his first career base to move into scoring position. Irby responded by having junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) and Tucker each fly out.
Miller belted his 19th of the campaign with Butler aboard in the fourth for a 7-0 margin. Butler was hit by a pitch with one out and Miller delivered a round-tripper to left field.
Senior Jeff Moyer (Winter Springs, Fla.) began the fifth with the Gators’ first hit, a double to left field. A grounder by freshman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) pushed Moyer to third and Gushue put the visitors on the board with an RBI grounder to second base.
Redshirt junior Christiaan Durdaller was plunked by Harris (2.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 K) to start the bottom of the stanza, bringing sophomore Keenan Kish (Worcester, Pa.) into the contest. Filliben collected his third hit of the night with a base-knock into left center to drive in his teammate for an 8-1 count.
After Irby worked five strong innings, Tucker greeted senior Joseph Burns in the sixth with a single into left field, bringing him within one of tying Ellis’ school standard. When junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) was hit by a pitch with one down, freshman Andreas Gracia replaced Burns. Senior Daniel Pigott’s (Ormond Beach, Fla.) grounder was misplayed by second baseman Stone to load the bases with one out and freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) brought home Tucker with a sacrifice fly to straightaway center field for an 8-2 deficit. Gracia had Moyer ground out to second base to complete the inning.
Miller connected on his second dinger of the night with two down in the home part of the inning for a 10-2 score. Ervin was hit by a pitch and moved into scoring position with his team-leading 14th theft before Miller ripped his 20th homer over the left-field wall.
Junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) brought the Gators within 10-5 in the seventh with a towering three-run blast into the trees overlooking left field. Fontana had drawn a two-out walk from Gracia and Tucker smashed a hard single to equal Ellis’ standard that has stood since 1999. Zunino cranked a 1-0 pitch out of the yard for his team-leading 14th homer, the second-straight contest that he has gone deep. Junior Sean Handlan came in for Gracia (1.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R) and issued a four-pitch walk to Johnson. Senior Tyler Vanderheiden was summoned from the bullpen and Pigott (2-for-4) moved Johnson over with a single through the right side of the infield. The reliever had Shafer fly out after a long at bat to strand the runners and keep the Bulldogs up by five runs.
Kish worked two innings, allowing three hits and two runs, and sophomore Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) took the hill prior to Samford’s seventh at bat. Junior Tommy Corbin (2-for-5) led off with a single into right field, went to second on a wild pitch and Filliben walked for two runners aboard. Stone executed a sacrifice bunt to advance his teammates into scoring position and Moss was walked intentionally to load the bases with one down. Butler delivered a two-run single for a 12-5, bringing freshman Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) to the mound for Gibson (0.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R). The southpaw worked out of the jam by having Ervin pop out and Miller foul out to Zunino.
Florida plated two runs in the ninth on a run-scoring double by Johnson and an RBI single by Pigott to finalize the 12-7 margin. Tucker walked with one down against junior Arthur Strauss and advanced to second on a grounder by redshirt freshman pinch hitter Connor Mitchell (Tampa, Fla.). Johnson’s 10th two-bagger of the year scored Tucker and he was replaced by sophomore pinch runner Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.), who advanced to third base on a passed ball and came in on an infield hit by Pigott.
The Gators conclude their conference schedule and regular season with a three-game series at Auburn (29-24/12-15 SEC) beginning on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. All three games will be carried on Country 103.7 The Gator with Jeff Cardozo and Steve Russell.