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Saturday March 15, 2008Baseball Clinches Series With 12-8 Victory Over AU

Gainesville, FL -

A six-run first inning and a 16-hit barrage powered Florida (13-3/2-0 SEC) to a 12-8 win over Auburn (11-7/0-2 SEC) on Saturday afternoon in front of a 3,043 fans at McKethan Stadium. The victory clinched the opening series of league play for the Gators as the clubs combined for 34 hits and just one error. UF also recorded its first triple play in 11 years thanks to a 1-4-6-3 sequence during the fourth inning.  

 

Freshman Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) went 3-for-4 with four RBI and is now 6-for-8 in the two meetings against the Tigers. Junior right-hander Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) improved to 2-0 by working five innings and limiting AU to one run, while sophomore righty Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) notched his first career save by registering the final out.

 

“Today was a very offensive day the way the wind was blowing and the field was quick,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We kind of felt that it was going to be a high-scoring day and our offense did a nice job making adjustments.”

 

Adams and sophomore Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) both cranked three-run homers off sophomore Scott Shuman (2-1) to give the Gators a 6-0 lead in the first inning. Junior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) led off with a single up the middle to extend his hitting streak to eight games but was erased at second on sophomore Matt den Dekker’s (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) fielder’s choice. Sophomore Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) raised his hitting streak to 10 games with an infield hit for two runners aboard and Adams blasted his team-leading fourth round-tripper over the wall in center to open the scoring. Senior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) drew a two-out walk and sophomore Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) followed with his fourth double of the campaign. Pisani then stepped to the plate and launched Shuman’s 0-1 offering over the left-field fence for his second dinger.  

 

The Tigers countered with a run in the second on a two-out RBI single up the middle by junior Matt Hall. Keating retired the first two batters before juniors Ben Jones and Ryan Jenkins had consecutive singles. Hall drove in his fourth run of the year to put Auburn on the board.

 

Florida answered with two more runs on four hits in the bottom of the frame for an 8-1 margin. den Dekker set a career high with a hit in his 10th consecutive outing and Figueroa had a single to chase Shuman (1.0 IP, 7H, 8 R) from the game. Adams picked up his fourth RBI of the day off freshman Bradley Hendrix and senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) stroked a base-knock through the right side. Still with none out, the reliever had Townsend ground into a 4-6-3 double play and sat down Pigott on an infield fly to strand Adams at third.  

 

Auburn threatened by putting its first two runners on base in the fourth, courtesy of a single by freshman Kevin Patterson and a hit by pitch to junior Luke Greinke. However, the Gators turned a rare triple play when Jones’ hit ricocheted off Keating and was caught by second baseman Adams. The rookie flipped to Figueroa covering second base for the second out and then over to McArthur to catch Patterson off base for the third one. It was the first triple play turned by Florida since March 15, 1997 against Alabama, when the combination of current Major Leaguers Mark Ellis (3b), David Eckstein (2b) and Brad Wilkerson (1b) accomplished the feat.

 

“I’ve never been part of a triple play before,” O’Sullivan said. “I was more fired up than I think Keating was. It was awesome and a heads-up play. It seems that (Josh) Adams and (Cole) Figueroa are involved in almost every play on the field and once again they were involved in that one, too.”

 

“The ball hit off of Keating’s glove,” Adams said. “There’s not much that I can say. A triple play – that’s the first time I’ve ever been a part of one. I was very excited and it turned out to be a game-changing play right there, as the momentum shifted our way.”

 

Figueroa expanded UF’s lead to 9-1 with a two-out single in the sixth. Sophomore Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) opened the frame with his first double and moved to third on Barnes’ groundout. Figueroa’s third hit of the game yielded his team-leading 24th RBI.

 

Freshman Hunter Morris clubbed his team-leading fourth homer in the seventh to bring Auburn within 9-3. Junior Mike Bianucci laced a two-out single off senior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) (2.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R) and Morris roped a 3-2 pitch to deep left for the two-run job.

 

UF responded in the home part of the stanza with three runs to build a nine-run cushion. Townsend started things off with his second four-bagger of the series and Pisani delivered a one-out single before Munroe’s double down the left-field line ended the afternoon for Hendrix. Over 5.1 innings, the right-hander surrendered nine hits and four runs. Barnes and den Dekker drew back-to-back walks from sophomore Austin Hubbard to load the bases and a fielder’s choice by Figueroa resulted in a 12-3 count.

 

After the Tigers used an RBI single from freshman Justin Hargett off freshman Travis Lawler (College Station, Texas) to narrow the gap to 12-4 in the eighth, they reached senior Dustin Bamberg (Winter Haven, Fla.) for four runs on five hits in the final inning. Freshman Tony Caldwell laced a bases-loaded, two-run double with two down, Hall had an RBI fielder’s choice and Hargett punched a run-scoring single into right to bring AU within four runs. O’Sullivan called on Mullaney, who had Bianucci fly out to center to end the contest.

 

The visitors enjoyed an 18-16 advantage in hits, as Morris was 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs and Hargett was 3-for-6. For the Gators, the duo of Figueroa and Adams were a combined 6-for-9 with six RBI and three runs. Munroe, Pigott and Pisani also chipped in with two hits apiece. Freshman Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) (2-0, 3.00) will take the mound tomorrow at 1 p.m. live on Sun Sports against AU freshman southpaw Cory Luckie (2-1, 1.23). The Gators are trying for their second-straight sweep of Auburn.

 

Game Notes

·         This is the first 2-0 SEC start for Florida since 2002.

·         The Gators have out-scored the Tigers, 19-9, this weekend.

·         UF matched a season-low with two strikeouts.

·         The Gators’ six-run outburst in the first inning equaled its high output set against Campbell in the seventh frame on March 4. 

·         Buddy Munroe had his first double of the season to lead off the sixth and added another two-bagger in the seventh.

·         Munroe’s throwing error in the top of the third was the first fielding miscue in the series by either team.

·         Florida tied a season-high with three home runs (vs. Campbell 3/5).

·         Out of Florida’s 18 home runs this season, 11 have come with two outs.

·         With Clayton Pisani’s start today, Florida has now started eight different players at designated hitter.

·         UF has out-scored foes by a 26-4 margin in the first frame and 31-11 in the second inning this season (57-14 total in the first two innings).

·         Florida batted around in the first inning for only the third time all season.

·         Today was the first time all season that the Gators have hit two home runs in the same inning.

-UF-

 

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