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
“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.”
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
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
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
“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
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
improved to 53-40-1 (.569) overall in season openers, including a 33-20-1
(.620) record in Gainesville.
O’Sullivan’s win improved Gator head coaches to
9-11-1 (.452) in their inaugural games.
Figueroa extended his hitting streak to seven games dating back to last
Gators improved to 9-0 all-time versus Siena.
did not commit any errors tonight, compared to two by the Saints.
different Gators drew two walks: Bryson Barber, Clayton Pisani and Jon Townsend.
belted three of the four home runs in the contest.