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Saturday March 29, 2008No. 18 Baseball Downs LSU, 7-1, To Clinch Series

Gainesville, FL -

Junior right-hander Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) (4-0) registered his first-ever complete game and all nine starters had at least one hit as No. 18 Florida (20-5/7-1 SEC) dealt LSU (15-10/2-6 SEC) a 7-1 setback before a crowd of 4,015 fans on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. After posting an 8-5 victory on Friday night, today’s win marked the first time that UF has defeated the Tigers in a series three-consecutive years.

 

Keating scattered seven hits and totaled a career-high six strikeouts in becoming the first Florida pitcher to go the distance since Bryan Augenstein ousted Alabama from the SEC Tournament on May 24, 2007 with a 3-2 decision. In running their home winning streak to 10 games, the Gators improved to 17-1 at McKethan Stadium, matching last season’s win total on their own turf. Seniors Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) and Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) were each 3-for-4 as part of a 14-hit output for the Orange and Blue. 

 

“Patrick certainly grinded it out this afternoon,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He was a little under the weather before the game but was sharp and on top of his pitches. Anytime we can score three in the first inning, it gives us a little breathing room. He threw a ton of strikes all day long. When our pitchers can do that against a good hitting team like LSU, we can be successful. It was good for him to get the complete game and it also saved our bullpen. I thought we had a great approach today at the plate and are swinging the bats pretty well.”

 

“Today was a big win for us and the defense played really well behind me,” Keating said. “Buddy (Munroe) caught a good game. Sully said something before the game that a lot of people pitch better when they are sick because they are relaxed. I was relaxed today for some reason. I’ve been focusing on my mechanics and getting ahead early in the count.”

 

The Gators burst out of the gates with three runs on five hits in the first inning off Tiger junior southpaw Ryan Verdugo (4-2), who entered the contest ninth in the SEC with a 2.52 earned run average. Junior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) led off with a base-hit into right and scored all the way from first base on sophomore Jonathan Pigott’s (Ormond Beach, Fla.) seventh double of the season. Senior Dustin Bamberg (Winter Haven, Fla.) sliced a two-out RBI single through the right side and Townsend followed with another base-hit before McArthur poked his sixth double to drive in Bamberg.

 

Florida tacked on a pair of runs in the third on a two-run single by Townsend for a 5-0 lead. Sophomore Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) and freshman Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) started things off with consecutive singles and advanced into scoring position on a grounder by Bamberg. Townsend drove in his teammates with a sharp single into center, McArthur followed with his second hit of the day and sophomore Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) was plunked to load the bases. Junior Jordan Brown entered the game for Verdugo (2.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R) and struck out both sophomore Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) and Barnes to keep the Tigers’ deficit at five runs.   

 

The Bayou Bengals got on the board with two down in the fifth against Keating courtesy of heads-up base-running by sophomore Sean Ochinko. Freshman DJ LeMahieu legged out an infield hit to the second-base bag, Ochinko moved to third and then sped home to beat the relay to the plate for a 5-1 count.

 

den Dekker connected on his fourth homer, second of the series, to finalize the 7-1 margin in the seventh. McArthur matched a season high with his third hit and stole second base before den Dekker’s dinger cleared the fence in right field to end the afternoon for Brown (4.0 IP, 3 H, 6 K, 3 BB). Junior Louis Coleman worked the final 1.2 innings for the visitors.

 

Freshman Leon Landry and LeMahieu each went 2-for-3 for LSU, while Pigott (2-for-5) joined McArthur and Townsend with multiple hits for the home team. The Gators were 4-of-5 on the basepaths and did not commit any errors. Freshman RHP Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) (4-0, 1.93) will pitch tomorrow’s finale at 1 p.m., live on Sun Sports, against an LSU pitcher to be determined.

 

Game Notes

  • At 7-1, Florida is off to its best start in SEC play since the 1994 team started 10-0.
  • Patrick Keating's 27 outs recorded consisted of 14 on the ground, six strikeouts and his first pickoff.
  • With two steals today, Cole Figueroa is now 13-for-14 on the basepaths, tying Avery Barnes for the team lead.
  • Florida reached double digits in hits for the 16th time in 25 games this season.
  • Matt den Dekker has homered in two consecutive games.
  • Florida improved to 7-2 against LSU dating back to 2004.
  • The Gators turned two double-plays this afternoon, bringing its season total to 33.
  • Florida has scored in the first inning in 14 out of 25 games and is 13-1 in those games.

-UF-

 

 

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