A sixth-inning solo home run by senior Andrew Davis
(3-for-4) was all the offense Kent State (2-4) needed in a 1-0 victory over Florida (5-6) on Sunday
afternoon at McKethan Stadium. Freshman Kyle Smith
(1-0) limited the Gators to two hits over five innings and the duo of seniors
Jason Seelman and Ryan Davis completed the shutout
with four frames in which they gave up three hits. The Golden Flashes claimed
two of the three meetings in the teams’ first-ever series. Freshman Billy Bullock (Valrico, Fla.)
(1-2) established career highs in innings (seven) and strikeouts (six) for UF.
“Billy (Bullock) pitched extremely well,” said head
coach Pat McMahon. “In his third
outing, he has made tremendous strides. We defended the field well today, and
that was a big plus. We had run-scoring opportunities and couldn’t come away
with it. Kent State made really quality plays,
defensively, and you have to give them credit for that. We would like to
solidify a lineup and have guys step forward. We talked about not looking at
the outcome, but the process. I like the character and quality of our club and
that will win out.”
Kent State put two runners on base with
one down in the first against Bullock but was kept off the board by the
right-hander. Junior Doug Sanders opened the game with a hit for the third-straight
day and Davis roped a one-out double just beyond
the reach of senior left fielder Chris
Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.). Bullock then retired freshman
Greg Rohan (infield fly) and had freshman Anthony Gallas ground out.
The Gators had a similar situation in the bottom of
the inning but could not score either. Junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) drew a
walk from Smith and freshman Cole
Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) increased his hitting streak to
six games with a single up the middle. The right-hander answered by setting
down freshman Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) and sophomore Cody Neer
The Golden Flashes threatened in the fifth, as
senior Will Vazquez opened with a base-hit into left and was sacrificed to
second on a bunt by sophomore Chris Tremblay. Bullock caught Sanders looking
for his career-high fifth strikeout and had freshman Jared Bartholomew tap out
to Figueroa to strand the runner. In the bottom of the inning, Petrie connected
on UF’s first hit since the opening stanza with a one-out
single but was thrown out attempt to steal second. Senior Austin Pride (Longwood,
Fla.) earned a free pass with
two down and moved into scoring position with his second theft of the campaign.
Smith had freshman Jonathan Pigott (Ormond
Beach, Fla.) ground
out to short to keep the contest scoreless.
“I thought I was hitting the spots with my
fastballs, and my breaking balls were a lot better today than they have been,”
Bullock said. “The guys were trying their best out there today, just like we
are on the mound. They were hitting the ball hard, but it just happened to be
right at people.”
At the outset of the sixth, Davis belted his first home run of ’07 to
straightaway center field to put the Golden Flashes in front. Smith departed
after five innings in which he allowed two singles, with four K and a couple of
walks. Sophomore Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.)
greeted Seelman with a walk and was moved into
scoring position on a sacrifice by Townsend. After Figueroa lined out to short
and Pisani was hit for the fourth time for two Gator
runners aboard, Neer’s fielder’s choice forced the
runner at second base for the final out.
Although Petrie poked his first double with one out
in the seventh, Seelman struck out Pride and had Pigott ground out to third to preserve the 1-0 lead. Senior
Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.)
replaced Bullock (7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 6 K, 0 BB) to
begin the eighth and surrendered a leadoff single to Bartholomew. The southpaw
rebounded to have Davis
tap into a 5-4-3 double play and Rohan fly out to
right. Over his two innings of work, Porter gave up two hits and had one
Barnes led off the eighth with an infield hit against Ryan Davis and was
sacrificed over by Townsend. Figueroa was plunked by the left-hander before Pisani’s grounder left the Gators with runners at second
and third and two down. Davis
shut the door by having Neer ground out.
Down to their final out in the ninth, Pride rifled
a single into left and Pigott earned a base on balls
to give the home team some life. Davis
nailed down the save by having Barnes pop-up to short to end the game.
Kent State held a 9-5 advantage in hits, while Florida left 10 runners
on base. The Gators hit the road for the first time this year on Tuesday night
when they face USF in Tampa at 7 p.m. UF claimed
last year’s meeting in Gainesville,
was the first time all season that Florida
failed to hit a home run, ending a stretch of 17-straight games with a
dinger dating back to May 6, 2006, at Mississippi State.
Gators played error-free baseball for the second day in a row.
was blanked for the first time since April 28, 2006, when Georgia
posted a 7-0 shutout at McKethan Stadium.