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Friday March 14, 2008Baseball Downs Auburn, 7-1, To Claim SEC Opener

Gainesville, FL -

Florida (12-3) used a four-run fourth and a three-run fifth to support the pitching of sophomore right-hander Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) en route to a 7-1 victory over Auburn (11-6) in the squads’ Southeastern Conference opener on Friday night at McKethan Stadium. Bullock (2-2) matched his career high of six strikeouts over a season-long 6.1 innings and kept the Tigers scoreless until the seventh stanza. Freshman Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) went 3-for-4 and scored twice in his SEC debut, while senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) tallied a season-high three RBI.


“Billy pitched ahead in the count, put the ball on the ground and didn’t have a lot of deep counts,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He got the leadoff batter out in five of seven innings so he did a nice job in that regard. Tonight was a good start to SEC play for us but it is just one of three games this weekend and we need to continue to play well tomorrow.”


Auburn freshman Hunter Morris’ bid to open the scoring with a leadoff homer in the second was denied on a spectacular leaping grab by sophomore center fielder Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.). den Dekker reached over the wall at the 400-foot mark in center and snared the ball when a 1-0 Tiger lead appeared imminent.


After being held hitless in their first three chances against freshman left-hander Grant Dayton (1-1), the Gators erupted for four runs on four hits in the fourth. Sophomore Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) extended his hitting streak to nine games with a leadoff single up the middle and Adams followed with an RBI double to center field to make it seven-straight games with a hit and help the home team break the ice. den Dekker beat out a bunt to give Florida runners on the corners and run his hitting streak to nine games and McArthur’s fielder’s choice plated Figueroa. With two down, senior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) belted his second homer of the year to left for a 4-0 count.


The Gators added three more runs on four hits in the fifth, highlighted by a two-run triple from McArthur, to build a 7-0 advantage. Junior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) started the frame with a bunt single and was sacrificed to second by sophomore Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.). After Figueroa’s team-leading sixth double brought across Barnes, Adams stroked a single into left for runners on first and third. With two down, McArthur cleared the bases with his SEC-leading third three-bagger of the campaign. Over five innings, Dayton surrendered eight hits and seven runs, with seven K and one walk.


Junior Mike Bianucci led off the seventh with a hard single and Morris walked on four pitches before a fly out by sophomore Joseph Sanders left the Tigers with men on the corners. Freshman Kevin Patterson sliced an RBI single into right field to put Auburn on the board and force a pitching change. Over a 6.1 innings, Bullock gave up five hits, totaled six punchouts and permitted one walk. Sophomore Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.) came out of the bullpen and caught freshman Brian Fletcher looking on strikes and had junior pinch hitter Ben Jones force Patterson out at second with a grounder to Adams.


Franklin threw 1.2 scoreless innings before yielding to sophomore Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) to record the final three outs. For Auburn, sophomore reliever Michael Hurst held the Gators to one hit and zero runs over three innings and struck out five of the 11 batters he faced.


UF out-hit the Tigers, 9-7, led by Adams’ career-high three hits and a 2-for-3 outing by Figueroa that included a double and his ninth stolen base. Patterson paced AU’s offense by going 3-for-4. Junior RHP Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) (1-0, 2.63) will take the hill tomorrow for the Orange and Blue at 4 p.m. against Auburn sophomore RHP Scott Shuman (2-0, 2.70). 


Game Notes

·         Kevin O’Sullivan is the fifth consecutive Gator Baseball Head Coach to win his SEC debut.

·         Riley Cooper made his first collegiate start at designated hitter and was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.

·         Of Florida’s 16 home runs this season, 10 have come with two outs.

·         The Gators improved to 9-1 when scoring first and 8-0 when out-hitting their opponent.



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