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Tuesday March 11, 2008Baseball Edges Florida Gulf Coast, 2-1

Gainesville, FL -

An eighth-inning sacrifice fly by Florida sophomore Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) brought home junior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) with the game-winning run as the Gators (11-3) nipped Florida Gulf Coast University (11-3), 2-1, on Tuesday night in front of 2,539 fans at McKethan Stadium. Barnes had tripled with one down off sophomore Pete Woodworth (2-1) and came across on Figueroa’s second RBI of the game.

 

Senior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) threw three scoreless innings without surrendering a hit to improve to 2-0, while junior starter Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) scattered four hits and registered a season-high five strikeouts over six innings. Woodworth collected season-highs in both K (eight) and innings pitched (7.1) but was on the hook for the defeat. The contest was played in 1:50, two minutes shy of UF’s school record for shortest nine-inning game that was established on May 1, 1994 against Georgia.  

 

“We made some great defensive plays tonight, as Jon Townsend made a heck of a play at third and Cole made a really nice play in the ninth,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We have been working hard on our defense and tonight it showed. They concentrated, battled and were able to beat a good FGCU team tonight.”

 

“It’s always big to get a win,” Figueroa said. “They don’t come easy. We are glad to come out of here with a victory today. Both teams played well and Locke and Edmondson pitched exceptional for us today.”

 

The Eagles began the second with consecutive singles by seniors Jason Peacock and Stephen Rassel before Locke responded with a strikeout of sophomore D.J. Bissell and had senior Vinnie Scarduzio ground out. The lefty stranded the runners by fanning senior Paul Fibbe and would retire the next 14 FGCU hitters before freshman Mikel Alvarez reached on a two-out error in the sixth by senior first baseman Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.).

 

Figueroa opened the scoring with a solo homer with one down in the fourth off Woodworth. The round-tripper was Figueroa’s second and landed in the left-field bleachers. The blast raised his hitting streak to eight games. 

 

Peacock started the seventh with a single up the middle and Rassel followed with a base-hit into the right center field gap for runners on the corners. Locke, who worked six innings for his longest stint since March 17 of last season against Mississippi State, was then replaced by Edmondson. Although the righty induced a 6-4-3 double play by Bissell, Peacock came across with the equalizer. The next batter, Scarduzio, sent a ball to the warning track in left that Barnes snared for the third out.   

 

The Gators seized a 2-1 lead in the eighth on Figueroa’s team-leading fourth sacrifice fly of the campaign. Barnes received a favorable bounce when his one-out hit ricocheted off the first base bag and down the right-field line for a triple. Sophomore Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), who had extended his hitting streak to eight games with a first-inning single, followed with a walk to prompt a pitching change. Figueroa greeted freshman reliever Chris Sale with a sac fly to left to bring home Barnes with the decisive run.

 

UF held a slim 5-4 advantage in hits, led by McArthur’s 2-for-2 outing. The duo of Peacock and Rassel accounted for the Eagles’ offense with a couple of hits apiece. Sophomore Jonathan Pigott’s (Ormond Beach, Fla.) career-high hitting streak of 16 games was halted with a 0-for-3 performance. The Gators will begin their 30-game Southeastern Conference schedule on Friday at 6:30 p.m. by hosting Auburn in the opener of a weekend series at McKethan Stadium.   

 

Game Notes

  • Cole Figueroa improved to 10-for-21 with runners in scoring position this season.
  • In 14 games, Josh Adams has started at five positions: LF, CF, RF, 2B and 3B.
  • Avery Barnes has scored a run in eight of the nine home games in which he has started.
  • Tonight was the Gators’ first win this season when scoring three runs or less.
  • Florida improved to 8-1 when scoring first and is now 9-1 when hitting a home run.
  • UF raised its mark to 2-0 in one-run games.

 

-UF-

 

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