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Wednesday February 27, 2008Baseball Doubles Up Eastern Michigan, 16-8

Gainesville, FL -

Behind three RBI apiece from freshman Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) and senior Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) and a 3-for-5, four-run outing by junior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.), Florida (5-0) completed a doubleheader sweep of Eastern Michigan (0-6) on Wednesday night with a 16-8 victory at McKethan Stadium. The Gators handled the Eagles in this afternoon’s opener, 15-2, and totaled 31 runs, 30 hits, 17 walks, 10 stolen bases and four homers during the twinbill. Junior J.K. LaCoste (Jacksonville, Fla.) worked 2.1 innings out of the bullpen to earn his first victory since March 8, 2006, a 3-1 decision over UNC Greensboro.   


“It was nice to swing the bats well today,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I think that any time there are back-to-back games and a team can have a 9-1 lead after two innings both times, it should take a lot of pressure off the pitching staff. Obviously, jumping out to an early lead helps and I was pleased with how many different players contributed to the two wins.”


Florida continued its offensive production by jumping on rookie starter Jordan Goldschmidt (0-1) for five hits and three runs in the first inning, featuring a bases-clearing double by Adams (1-for-3, two runs). Barnes walked to start things off and sophomore Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) was hit by a pitch before sophomore Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) (2-for-3, three runs, two stolen bases) sliced an RBI single through the right side of the infield. Although Figueroa was picked off, senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) (1-for-2, three runs) and freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) earned free passes to load the bases. Adams ripped his first career double into right to increase his team-leading RBI total to 10 and sophomore Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-3) later added a two-out single up the middle for a 5-0 count.


The Eagles filled the bags with one down in the second against freshman right-hander Travis Lawler (College Station, Texas) courtesy of two hit batters and a base-hit by junior Kyle Rhoad (4-for-6, three runs, three RBI). A walk to senior Steve Bradshaw put the visitors on the board before Lawler had sophomore Andrew Marshall fly out to right.


Florida roared back by sending nine men to the plate in the bottom of the frame and tallied four runs on five hits and an EMU error to take a 9-1 advantage. Barnes opened with a single, moved to second on balk, stole third and scored on a throwing error by freshman catcher Matt Skirving. Figueroa doubled to left, swiped third and came home on a two-bagger by McArthur. Following a four-pitch, two-out walk to Adams, Barber collected his second career triple to put the hosts up by eight runs.


Eastern Michigan answered with four runs on five hits in the third, highlighted by a three-run homer by Rhoad, to narrow the gap to 9-5 and chase Lawler. Back-to-back singles by Skirving and freshman Zack Leonard after a fielder’s choice by Powell loaded the bases for the Eagles. Sophomore Aaron Crooks had a sac fly to right and Rhoad cranked his second homer of the year to left field to reduce the visitors’ deficit to four runs. An infield hit by junior Jim Gulliver ended the night for Lawler, who yielded eight hits and five runs over 2.2 innings, with three K and three hit batters.


Florida tacked on two unearned runs in the third when den Dekker’s pop-up to second base was dropped and increased its lead to 12-5 when Barber led off the home part of the fourth with a solo blast to right center. Soon after, Barnes reached on a two-out single, stole second and came all the way around to score on a throwing error on the play by Skirving for a seven-run cushion. EMU took advantage of two Gator errors in the fifth for a 13-7 score before Figueroa came home on a wild pitch from freshman reliever Robert Hamly, who had taken over for Goldschmidt (0-1, 4.0 IP, 10 H, 13 R, 7 BB, 3 K).


Senior Jeff Davis (2-for-5) stroked an RBI single in the seventh off sophomore reliever Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) and Barnes connected on his first four-bagger of the season with Pigott aboard in the eighth to complete the scoring at 16-8. Eastern Michigan out-hit the Gators, 13-12, as Rhoad was 4-for-6 with three runs and three RBI out of the leadoff slot. Four different UF players turned in multiple-hit outings and four individuals drew at least two of the squad’s season-high 12 walks.   


The Gators will make their first road trip of the season when they travel to Coral Gables for a three-game series against eighth-ranked Miami (3-0). Sophomore RHP Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) will oppose Hurricane sophomore left-hander Eric Erickson in Friday’s opener at 7 p.m.


Game Notes

  • The last time the Gators started 5-0 was in 2002, when they reeled off 11-straight wins to begin the season.
  • Florida drew a season-high 12 walks from Eastern Michigan’s four pitchers.
  • UF was a perfect 10-for-10 on the basepaths during the double-dip and Cole Figueroa (7-for-7) has already matched his theft total from last season.
  • On the day, the Gators hit .441 (30-for-68) and outscored the Eagles, 31-10.
  • Coach O’Sullivan used a total of eight pitchers during the two games, and the staff registered a 3.94 earned run average with 18 K and five walks.
  • Avery Barnes (6-for-9) and Jonathan Pigott (4-for-6) tied for the team lead with a .667 average versus Eastern Michigan.




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