Behind a combined shutout from sophomores Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.)
and Patrick Keating (Harrisburg,
(5-5) used a 7-0 victory to even its weekend series with Kent State
(1-4) on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. In
picking up his first win since April 10, 2005, at Georgia, Locke (1-1) scattered
seven hits over a career-high seven innings with two strikeouts and zero walks
and Keating threw two innings in UF’s second donut of
the year. The Gators broke the game open with a four-run second to end a
three-game slide. Freshman Billy Bullock (Valrico, Fla.)
(1-1, 7.00) will start Sunday’s rubber match at noon against freshman Kyle
Smith (0-0, 3.00).
“From the get-go, our guys got out there on the
field and worked hard today,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “I was very pleased with our approach and the way
players stepped up to fill different positions in the line up today. Stephen
(Locke) did a great job for us. His movement was better and created outs. He is
really improving. Cole Figueroa’s late home run was great to solidify our lead.
After last night, we talked about staying away from big-run innings on defense
and giving away outs. We defended the field better, but we need to maintain
that consistency through every game.”
the ice for the second-straight day on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the
first inning by freshman Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.).
KSU junior Dominique Rodgers (0-2) had control issues and walked the first
three batters he faced, sophomore Avery
Barnes (High Springs, Fla.),
junior Jon Townsend (London,
Ky.) and freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee,
Fla.). After Pisani lofted a sac fly to left, Rodgers had senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.)
ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Although the Golden Flashes threatened in the
second, notching three hits off Locke, they did not score. Sophomore Brad
Winter laced a one-out single to left before Barnes robbed freshman Anthony Gallas of possible extra bases with a great catch in center
field. Senior Will Vazquez and freshman Jared Bartholomew followed with
consecutive hits to fill the sacks before the southpaw jammed sophomore Ryan
Mitchell on an infield fly to strand the runners.
“Coach Jones and I talked about putting up zeroes
and letting our offense get ahead so we didn’t have to play from behind,” Locke
said. “I struggled against VMI, did a little better against Miami and did well today, so I am glad that I
seem to be building up each time. Kent
State is a good team and
put the ball on the bat a lot. We did not make the plays behind Bryan (Augenstein) last night, but we turned it around today with
no errors and got in and out quickly on defense.”
Aided by a pair of errors, the Gators tacked on
four more runs in the second for a 5-0 advantage. In his first collegiate at
bat, freshman Jake Hicks (Molino, Fla.) doubled
to left center with one down and scored when senior Brian Leclerc’s (Clearwater, Fla.) ground
ball was dropped by the first baseman and rolled away. Freshman Hampton Tignor’s
(Sarasota, Fla.) first career base-hit left UF with runners on the corners
and Barnes roped an RBI double to plate Leclerc.
After Townsend delivered a sacrifice fly to bring in Tignor,
Figueroa stroked a single into right center to score Barnes.
Figueroa cranked his fourth home run of the season
with Townsend aboard in the seventh to expand Florida’s margin to 7-0. Townsend had earned
his second free pass of the afternoon from freshman reliever Robert Sabo and
Figueroa sent a 2-1 pitch off the scoreboard overlooking right field.
“It was a great day,” Figueroa said. “After three-straight
losses, we were able to come back and pick it back up today. All of the guys
contributed, and it was a great team effort out there. We didn’t have any
errors today after having six last night, and that is an important factor
throughout the duration of the season.”
Figueroa (2-for-3, career-high three RBI) and Hicks
(2-for-4) led the Gators’ offense, while Vazquez went 2-for-3 to pace KSU.
Rodgers allowed four hits and five runs (two earned) over two innings before
junior Evan Smith fired four scoreless frames out of the bullpen. Sabo (0.1 IP,
1 H, 2 R), sophomore Ryan Steele (1.1 IP, 0 H) and freshman Jon Pokorny (0.1 IP) finished up for the Golden Flashes.
Locke’s previous career high was six innings, set twice, most recently
State on March 13,
Gators also shut out VMI, 7-0, on Feb. 11.
Tignor threw out Doug Sanders attempting to
steal second base in the first inning, UF’s
first runner caught this year on the ninth attempt.
Gators have homered in all 10 games this season
and have 18 round-trippers.
played error-free baseball for the third time in ’07, first since Feb. 13
against Florida A&M.