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Friday February 22, 2008Baseball Downs Siena, 10-7, In O'Sullivan's Debut

Gainesville, FL -

Kevin O’Sullivan enjoyed a successful start to his head coaching career as the University of Florida baseball team began its 2008 campaign with a 10-7 victory over Siena in front of 3,408 fans on Friday night at McKethan Stadium. The Gators rallied from deficits of 5-0 and 6-5 and snapped a 6-6 tie in the sixth with a two-run triple by senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.). Freshman Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) later added a two-out, two-RBI single in the frame as the hosts sent 10 batters to the plate. Making the first relief appearance of his career, sophomore righty Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) limited the Saints to one run and three hits over six innings and equaled his personal best of six strikeouts to pick up the win.

 

“Our goal was to chip away when we fell behind,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s a long game and the first thing we told them was that it’s not over until the last out. There were a lot of positives tonight and as a team I was pleased with how we fought back. It’s not easy coming back from a 5-0 deficit, especially on opening night with the pressure of a new coach in front of the home crowd.”

 

“It was a little nerve-racking being a head coach for the first time. It kind of a hit me a little bit during the national anthem in front of the fans. Tonight was a good win for everybody associated with our program and it obviously relieves some pressure.”

 

Siena opened the scoring in the top of the first on an RBI single up the middle by senior Moises Rivera. Senior Chris Klepps had started the game with a double to straightaway center field off sophomore Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Rivera stroked the righty’s next offering up the middle to break the ice. Mullaney rebounded by striking out the two batters and had junior Eric Mruczek’s grounder force the runner at second to end the frame.

 

Rivera blasted a two-out grand slam in the second inning to provide the Saints with a 5-0 lead. Mullaney set down the first two hitters before yielding consecutive singles to junior Nick Messinger and senior Michael Ambury. Following a four-pitch walk to Klepps, Rivera sent a 2-2 pitch into the left-field bleachers to clear the sacks and create the five-run cushion.  

 

The Gators answered in the bottom of the stanza with five runs on four hits and an error to knot the contest at 5-5. Following a leadoff walk to senior Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.), senior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) deposited a 2-2 pitch from junior right-hander Craig Chaput (5.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 6 K) deep to left over the bleachers to put UF on the board. The round-tripper marked the second year in a row that Townsend had homered on opening night. Adams lofted a fly ball to left that was dropped, resulting in him taking second base. A base-hit by sophomore Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) left runners on the corners and an RBI grounder from sophomore Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.) narrowed the gap to 5-3. Following a passed ball that pushed Pigott to third, junior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) legged out an infield hit that brought across his teammate. Sophomore Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) later sliced a single through the left side with two down to even the game.

 

Sophomore Anthony Giansanti moved the Saints back in front with a one-out homer in the third, also to left field. Over three innings on the mound, Mullaney gave up nine hits and six runs and matched his career high of three strikeouts before being replaced by Bullock.

 

Figueroa delivered his second two-out RBI of the night with a double to left center in the fourth that tied the game at six runs apiece. The previous batter, sophomore Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.), had earned a free pass and came all the way around on the two-bagger that went into the gap.

 

McArthur put the Gators in front to stay in the sixth with a key two-run triple off junior reliever Will Hassett and Adams added a two-out, two-RBI single for a 10-6 advantage. Barnes opened the frame with his second base-hit and Pisani walked before Figueroa laid down a sacrifice bunt to move his teammates into scoring position. McArthur smacked Hassett’s next pitch over Messinger’s head in center field for a two-run triple and an 8-6 advantage. Townsend reached via a walk for two runners aboard and stole second before Adams collected the first two RBI of his collegiate career with a flare into left field to put the hosts up by four runs.

 

“We were faced with the challenge of being down five runs early and coming back makes the win that much sweeter,” McArthur said. “Although I was thrilled to have the game-winning hit, it didn’t really matter who came through for us. I just want to win and make these fans happy any way, shape or form that I can. Luckily, I had the chance to do it tonight.”

 

Klepps’ solo homer in the ninth finalized the margin at 10-7. Led by multiple-hit outings from Rivera (2-for-4, five RBI), Klepps (2-for-4, three runs), Willis (2-for-5) and Messinger (2-for-4), the Saints out-hit the Gators, 12-11. For Florida, Adams was 2-for-5 and reached base four times, Barnes went 2-for-5 and scored twice and the duo of Figueroa and Pigott each chipped in with two hits. The Gators were 4-of-5 on stolen-base opportunities, with Townsend swiping a couple of bags. UF will send junior right-hander Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) to the hill against Siena junior left-hander Matt Moberg tomorrow afternoon at 2.

         

Game Notes

  • Former Florida head coach Dave Fuller, who directed the Gators from 1948-75 and registered a career mark of 557-354-6 (.611), threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
  • UF improved to 53-40-1 (.569) overall in season openers, including a 33-20-1 (.620) record in Gainesville.
  • Kevin O’Sullivan’s win improved Gator head coaches to 9-11-1 (.452) in their inaugural games.
  • Cole Figueroa extended his hitting streak to seven games dating back to last season.
  • The Gators improved to 9-0 all-time versus Siena.
  • Florida did not commit any errors tonight, compared to two by the Saints.
  • Three different Gators drew two walks: Bryson Barber, Clayton Pisani and Jon Townsend.
  • Siena belted three of the four home runs in the contest.

 

-UF-

 

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