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Sunday April 22, 2007Petrie's Walk-Off Single Lifts Baseball To Series Victory Over UK

Gainesville, FL

Senior pinch hitter Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) snapped a 4-4 tie with a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth to help Florida (23-20/10-8 SEC) edge Kentucky (27-12-1/7-10-1 SEC), 5-4, in front of 3,004 fans on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. The Wildcats had rallied with two runs in the top of the frame and the SEC’s travel curfew meant that the contest would be ending after the completion of the inning.  

 

“I was really appreciative of the wonderful crowd that came out with the early start today,” said head coach Pat McMahon. “The home field advantage is really important. Kentucky does as fine of a job as I’ve seen controlling the running game. So many of our guys did a great job at the plate for us, like Jon (Townsend), who has been an outstanding hitter in clutch situations and came up big in the ninth. Brian (Leclerc) has been in the program for four years. He has really worked through the slump he had, and I am proud of that. At the mound, Billy (Bullock) is emerging and got us through five-plus here today. He pitched to both sides of the plate and saw a lot of left-handed batters.”

 

Junior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) opened the decisive stanza with a single off Kentucky senior Dewayne Oxford (3-1) and was replaced by sophomore pinch runner Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.). Sophomore Jared Kubin (Oakton, Va.) poked a one-out single to advance Barnes and sophomore pinch hitter Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) legged out an infield hit to load the bases. Petrie then sliced a 1-1 pitch into right center to give the Gators the series victory. It was his lone at bat of the series.

 

Kentucky had knotted the game at 4-4 with four hits in the top of the ninth off sophomore Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.). Senior Mike Brown launched a leadoff double and scored on freshman Keenan Wiley’s bouncer up the middle to trim the deficit to 4-3. A passed ball moved Wiley to second and a fly ball to deep center by junior Sawyer Carroll nudged his teammate to third. Keating punched out senior Sean Coughlin for out number two and junior Brian Spear knotted the game at 4-4 with a clutch single into center on a full count. Keating worked 2.1 innings, giving up five hits and one earned run, to improve to 3-1 on the year.

 

A sparkling defensive play enabled the Gators to keep the Wildcats off the board in the first inning. After Wiley beat out a bunt with one down, Carroll poked a double to right off freshman Billy Bullock (Valrico, Fla.). Senior right fielder Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.) threw to freshman second baseman Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.), who fired a perfect strike to freshman catcher Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.) to nail Wiley at the dish.

 

Florida came out of the gates with four consecutive hits off junior Greg Dombrowski but managed just one run. Freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.), senior Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) and Leclerc opened with three-straight singles to load the bases. LaPorta’s shot up the middle boosted his hitting streak to 19 games. After Townsend stroked an RBI single, Dombrowski induced ground balls from Pisani and freshman Jake Hicks (Molino, Fla.), the latter of which was converted into a 6-4-3 double play.

 

“Everyone in this dugout knew how big that win was for us,” Leclerc said. “Being 10-8 in the SEC is different than 9-8 with a tie. It is the difference between us being in the middle of the pack or near the top. We did our part here today.”

 

Although the Gators expanded their advantage to 2-0 in the third, they left the bases full. Figueroa started the frame with a base-hit and Leclerc was hit by a pitch with one down before Townsend collected his second RBI of the day by stroking a single to left. Pisani’s single loaded the sacks and ended Dombrowski’s (2.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R) tenure. Freshman Duran Ferguson struck out Hicks and freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) to strand the trio of runners.  

 

Pisani delivered a double in the fifth to provide UF with a three-run lead. Leclerc had a leadoff double to right and advanced to third on Townsend’s grounder before Pisani connected on his fifth two-bagger. Junior Brock Baber replaced Ferguson (2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 K) and junior Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) drew a pinch-hit walk for two runners aboard. The reliever answered with a strikeout of den Dekker and uncorked a wild pitch to put two Gators in scoring position. Baber bounced back to have freshman Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) ground out to third.

 

The Wildcats mounted a rally in the sixth to pull within 3-1 and left the bases loaded. Brown roped his 13th double to begin the frame, prompting a pitching change. Bullock scattered five hits over five innings, notched one strikeout and was charged with one run. Freshman Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) yielded a sacrifice bunt to Wiley that pushed Brown to third and Carroll had an infield hit to put the Wildcats on the scoreboard. Coughlin and Spear had back-to-back walks to load the bases and bring in freshman Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) for Chapman. The righty caught freshman Anthony Ottrando looking on strikes and had sophomore Ryan Wilkes fly out to den Dekker in center to preserve the two-run lead.

 

UK narrowed the gap to 3-2 in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk before Keating had Spear ground out to bring Kentucky’s total to nine left on base. Mullaney retired the first two batters before issuing a walk to Brown and a single to Wiley. Senior Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) was summoned from the bullpen, walked Carroll to load the bases and walked Coughlin to bring in a run. Keating came in and put out the fire on a grounder to Pisani.

 

The Gators’ bid for insurance in the bottom of the stanza fell by the wayside when freshman James Paxton had Kubin ground into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play. Leclerc started things off with a double and a throwing error by Wilkes on Pisani’s grounder left Florida with runners on the corners and one down. Paxton came out the bullpen for Baber (2.0 IP, 1 H) and came through with a critical double play grounder to keep the Wildcats down a run.

 

In the eighth, freshman Brock Wright opened with a pinch-hit single and was erased at second when Wilkes’ sacrifice attempt was fielded cleanly by Townsend and thrown to Figueroa covering the bag. Wilkes moved to second on a throwing error by Keating with one down to advance the tying run into scoring position. The right-hander had Kipnis pop out to Townsend and whiffed junior Antone DeJesus to end the inning.

 

With the time limit for the game approaching, senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) ripped a two-out RBI single for a 4-2 Florida lead. Tignor and Figueroa connected on back-to-back singles with two down and Pride’s base-knock into right gave the hosts a two-run advantage. Kentucky retired Leclerc at 2:12 to continue the game, as no new inning could start after 2:15 p.m.

 

Florida out-hit Kentucky, 17-12, and the squads combined to strand 23 runners. Figueroa (3-for-5, two runs), Leclerc (3-for-4) and Townsend (3-for-5, two RBI) each had three hits for the Gators. Wiley went 3-for-4 and Brown was 2-for-4 with three runs for the Wildcats. The Gators return to action on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series in Nashville against No. 1 Vanderbilt. First pitch from Charles Hawkins Field will be at 8 p.m.

 

-UF-

 

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