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Tuesday March 18, 2008Baseball Upends No. 3 Florida State, 6-1

Gainesville, FL -

Florida (15-3) extended its winning streak to seven games by knocking off third-ranked Florida State (16-2), 6-1, in front of a McKethan Stadium record crowd of 5,719 fans on Tuesday night. Junior left-hander Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) (2-0) kept the high-powered Seminole offense scoreless over 5.1 innings and sophomore Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) entered the game with the bases loaded in the eighth and recorded the final four outs to collect his second save. Kevin O’Sullivan became the first Gator head coach to win his initial encounter with FSU since Joe Arnold accomplished the feat in 1984. 

 

“Anytime that you beat Florida State is a huge win,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “They are extremely well-coached and are a top-10 team year-in and year-out. They are always one of the top teams in the country, so I feel that anytime you can get a win against them you have to feel good. I feel good for our guys, they played good defense and battled out there. We still have two more games against them, but obviously that was a good win for us.” 

 

“That was great for the crowd to come out and support us like they did tonight,” O’Sullivan continued. “I know that it fired up our guys. Hopefully, we can get more of these big crowds as we go.” 

 

Senior Dustin Bamberg (Winter Haven, Fla.) opened the scoring in the second inning with his first home run as a Gator. With two down, he sent a 3-2 pitch from junior Bo O’Dell (1-1) over the bleachers in left field to give the hosts the early lead.

 

In the top of the third, freshman Luke Smierciak (2-for-3) sliced a one-out single through the right side of the infield. However, Locke prevented further trouble by having freshman Tyler Holt ground into an inning-ending double play that was started by senior first baseman Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.). Sophomore Jason Stidham walked on four pitches to start the fourth before Locke induced a 4-6-3 double play by junior Buster Posey. The southpaw had junior Tony Delmonico fly out to right to end the frame.

 

The Gators increased their lead to 2-0 in the home part of the fourth on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice by senior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.). Freshman Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) and McArthur began the stanza with back-to-back singles before O’Dell had sophomore Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) line out to third base. Freshman Stuart Tapley tried to catch Adams off second base but threw the ball into right field, enabling the runner to take third. Bamberg drew a four-pitch free pass to fill the sacks and end the night for O’Dell (3.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R). Townsend’s grounder off freshman reliever Geoff Parker drove in Adams and the righty rebounded to strike out sophomore Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) to strand the pair of runners.   

 

FSU mounted a two-out threat in the fifth, as freshman Mike McGee singled and Tapley reached on a fielder’s choice. The Gators escaped unscathed when Munroe threw out Tapley attempting to steal second on a wild pitch to close the frame.

 

Florida added two runs in the bottom of the inning on a bases-loaded walk to Adams and a fielder’s choice by McArthur to build a 4-0 advantage. Junior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) (10-game hitting streak) and sophomore Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (12-game hitting streak) had consecutive base hits before sophomore Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) reached on a fielding error by senior first baseman Dennis Guinn. Adams followed with a walk for a three-run margin and McArthur’s grounder to short brought in den Dekker. Figueroa was later picked off third and Pigott flew out to hold the Seminoles’ deficit at four runs.

 

Smierciak led off the sixth with a single to center and Holt walked before Locke had Stidham fly out to right field. Senior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.) came out of the bullpen to relieve Locke (5.1 IP. 4 H, 3 K, 2 BB) and walked Buster Posey to load the bases. The righty caught Delmonico looking on strikes and had Guinn hit a comebacker to the mound, forcing Smierciak at home, to keep the Seminoles off the board.

 

When we started off, I didn’t really have great stuff, but they hit ground balls and our guys made plays,” Locke said. “We have been working hard at practice. Everyone sees us out here during games, but we spend hours and hours getting ready and preparing. The hard work has started to pay off a little bit, but we need to continue to play hard.”

 

FSU filled the bases again in the seventh but was denied when sophomore Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) had Stidham watch strike three. Junior Tommy Oravetz walked to start things off and Tapley stroked a one-out double for two runners in scoring position. Edmondson had Smierciak ground to Townsend for the second out but issued a walk to Holt to fill the bases. Davis was summoned from the bullpen and notched his third K of the year to preserve UF’s lead.  

 

Guinn roped an RBI double with one down in the eighth off sophomore right-hander Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.) to score Buster Posey from first base to narrow the gap to 4-1. A two-out walk to sophomore Ohmed Danesh enabled the Seminoles to have runners on first and third before Franklin plunked Tapley to fill the sacks. Mullaney had senior pinch hitter Jack Rye pop up to Figueroa to close the inning.

 

The Gators tacked on a pair of insurance runs on three hits to seize a 6-1 lead in the bottom of the stanza. Pigott led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Bamberg. Townsend delivered an RBI single into left center to score Pigott and Munroe followed with a base-hit for two men aboard. Barnes collected his third hit of the night with a single off freshman Ryan Vigue to plate Townsend with Florida’s final run of the evening.

 

UF held an 11-7 edge in hits, as eight of the nine starters chipped in at least one, and O’Sullivan’s club did not commit any errors. The Seminoles left 11 men on base and were charged with three errors. The Gators return to SEC action this weekend by visiting No. 8 Ole Miss (13-5/2-1 SEC) for a three-game set. First pitch from Oxford-University Stadium at Swayze Field on Friday will be at 7:30 p.m. and the game will be carried live on FSN Florida. Sophomore Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) (2-2, 2.78) will take the mound against Rebel junior right-hander Lance Lynn (4-0, 1.23) in the opener.

 

Game Notes

  • Florida improved to 12-1 when scoring first.
  • Tonight’s attendance of 5,719 surpassed the previous mark of 5,698 set during Game 2 of the 2005 NCAA Super Regional against Florida State.
  • The Gators ended a two-game slide at home to the Seminoles and have now captured four of the last meetings with FSU.
  • Twelve of Florida’s 20 home runs this season have come with two outs.
  • In his three starts this season, Stephen Locke has allowed only three runs.
  • The last time Florida held the Seminoles to one run or less was in Game 1 of the 2005 NCAA Super Regional (8-1, June 10).
  • After registering zero saves in their first 15 games, the Gators have collected three in a row.

 

-UF-

 

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