After No. 7
Arkansas (16-2) snapped a 1-1 tie with two runs in the top of the seventh, No.
13 Florida (16-6) answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning on its
way to a 6-3 victory in the teams’ Southeastern Conference opener at McKethan Stadium on Friday night. The contest was a pitcher’s
duel, as senior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda,
Fla.) (4-2) matched his
career high with seven strikeouts over seven innings to pick up the win, while
UA sophomore Nick Schmidt (4-1) tied his career high with 11 K in 6.2 innings.
The Gators extended their winning streak to seven games and handed the Hogs
their first loss since Feb. 28, ending a stretch of seven-straight wins.
(Ball) pitched his heart out for us,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “Arkansas
is a well-prepared ballclub and is capable of clutch
hits at almost any time. We have a lot of guys who believe in one another and
they are working hard to get better. It was important for us to work pitch
counts against (Nick) Schmidt, one of the top pitchers in country.”
return to the lineup after a 13-game absence, junior Matt LaPorta (Port
Charlotte, Fla.) drew a
one-out walk in his first plate appearance and junior Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.)
followed with a base-hit into left field. Schmidt worked out of the jam by
striking out juniors Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) and Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.).
Arkansas drew first blood in the second on a
sacrifice fly by freshman David Hum that brought across junior Danny Hamblin.
Hamblin and freshman James Ewing had opened the inning with back-to-back singles
and a wild pitch by Ball allowed the lead runner to take third. However, Ewing was thrown out on the play attempting to steal
second by Jeroloman. Hum lofted a ball to
straightaway center field that easily scored Hamblin.
The Gators countered
with a run in the second on an RBI single by junior Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee,
Fla.), who drove in three
runs on the night. Junior David Cash (Odessa, Fla.) roped a
leadoff double and senior Stephen Barton
walked before Dickey deposited a
flare just beyond first base. Although sophomore Matt Gaski (Greensboro, N.C.)
grounded into a double play, Barton came home with the apparent go-ahead
run. The umpires ruled interference on the play, sending Barton back to third.
Schmidt stranded the runner with a strikeout of junior Adam Davis (Fort Myers,
down 11 straight Arkansas
hitters before Hamblin stroked a one-out double in the seventh. Ewing delivered an RBI single to right field to move the
Hogs in front and wound up on third after a throwing error on the relay by Leclerc. After Ball had Hum ground out, junior Blake Parker
extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a single up the middle to give UA
a 3-1 lead.
two errors in the bottom of the inning, Florida
seized a 4-3 advantage. Cash opened the frame with his second two-bagger of the
night and was sacrificed to third by Barton. Dickey’s grounder was then thrown
away by Schmidt, allowing Cash to score and enabling Dickey to occupy second. Another
throwing error by Arkansas on Gaski’s grounder
brought across Dickey with the tying run and Davis smashed a double to center
to give the Gators a 4-3 lead. LaPorta walked to give
UF a pair of runners on base before Schmidt made Jeroloman
his 11th strikeout victim. Junior reliever Brian McLelland
came in and set down Pride on a grounder to first.
Florida tacked on a couple of insurance
runs in the eighth to seal the victory. Leclerc drew
a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second by Cash. An infield hit by senior Chris Woods (Gainesville, Fla.)
gave the home team runners on the corners and Dickey ripped a base-hit to give
UF a 5-3 lead. Gaski executed a squeeze bunt to drive
in Woods with the sixth run.
Senior Darren O’Day (Jacksonville, Fla.)
retired all six Arkansas
batters he faced over two innings to collect his fourth save. The right-hander
recorded four strikeouts and lowered his earned run average to 1.25. Florida out-hit the
Hogs, 8-6, as Dickey (2-for-4, three RBI) and Cash (2-for-3, two runs) turned
in multiple-hit outings. Ball scattered six hits over seven frames and gave up
three runs (two earned) without issuing any walks. Schmidt (6.2 IP, 6H, 4R,
2ER, 11K, 4BB) suffered his first defeat since last May. Sophomore Bryan Augenstein
Fla.) (5-0, 1.37) will face
UA right-hander Charley Boyce (2-0, 3.92) tomorrow at 4 p.m.
- Matt LaPorta’s
last appearance for the Gators was on Feb. 22 against Florida A&M, Florida
was 8-5 with him out of the lineup.
- Brandon McArthur was a late scratch
for tonight’s game with a bruised shin.
- Stephen Barton’s hitting streak
ended at a career-high six games.
- Bryan Ball is now 16-5 in his
career at McKethan Stadium.
- The Gators are 4-1 in SEC
openers under Coach McMahon.