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Wednesday April 9, 2008No. 21 Baseball Nips North Florida, 3-2

Gainesville, FL -

An inning-ending double play in the eighth inning preserved a 3-2 victory for No. 21 Florida (23-10) over North Florida (18-15) on Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium before a crowd of 2,617 fans. With sophomore Preston Hale poised to score the tying run from third base, Gator sophomore righty Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.) had senior Andy Warren send a fly ball into shallow right field. Sophomore Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) made the putout and threw a perfect strike to junior catcher Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.), who was able to block the runner at the plate to end the frame. With its third-straight win, UF also captured the rubber game of its regular-season series with the Ospreys.


Freshman right-hander Travis Lawler (College Station, Texas) (2-0) worked 3.2 innings for the victory, with three strikeouts, three hits and an unearned run. Franklin collected his second save of the season with two scoreless and hitless innings.


“We had solid pitching tonight,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Stephen Locke did his job by giving up one unearned run in three innings and I thought Travis Lawler’s performance was outstanding. To have a defensive play like we had in the eighth inning was a positive sign and having Clint (Franklin) close the ballgame without allowing any runners on base was what we needed.”   


“First of all, you have to give credit to the pitchers,” said Foster. “They were making pitches in the right spots and doing what they are supposed to do. That enabled us to have the fly ball in right field. Once Pigott made the catch, I just put my feet on the plate and waited for the throw. It was perfect and I didn’t have to move. It’s pretty easy when they put it right to you.”


The Ospreys took advantage of a two-out error in the first inning to grab a 1-0 lead. Senior Chad Knight laced a one-out single up the middle off junior Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) but was erased attempting to take third on Hale’s base-hit, as junior left fielder Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) fired a bullet to senior third baseman Jon Townsend (London, Ky.). Although senior Travis Martin grounded out to sophomore shortstop Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.), the relay was dropped by sophomore first baseman Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.), enabling Hale to score.


Florida answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the stanza on an RBI groundout by Townsend. Barnes led off with a single, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by UNF sophomore catcher Michael Gropper. Townsend then drove in his teammate with a grounder to short.


The Gators built a 3-1 lead in the second on two hits and an error. Pigott drew a leadoff walk, swiped his first base of the season and scored on a single by Pisani. Foster tapped the ball to UNF sophomore pitcher Jonathan Turner (0-2, 3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R), who threw wide of second base to allow Pisani to occupy third. Barnes’ first sac fly of the campaign put the hosts up by two.  


Martin led off the sixth with a single up the middle off Lawler and the right-hander had sophomore Andrew Hannon line out to Townsend for a double play. Lawler had come in after Locke gone three innings, allowing four hits and an unearned run. The Gators loaded the bases with two down in the home part of the inning, as Pisani and Foster had back-to-back singles and Townsend earned a free pass. Junior Antonio Franzese worked out of trouble by striking out Figueroa to hold the Ospreys’ deficit at 3-1.


UNF narrowed the gap to 3-2 in the seventh thanks to a pair of two-out errors. Lawler retired the first two hitters before sophomore Ryan Lowe reached on a fielding mistake by Townsend. Sophomore T.J. Thompson had an infield hit off sophomore reliever Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.), but Townsend threw the ball away attempting to catch Lowe going to third, resulting in the unearned run.


The Ospreys out-hit the Gators, 9-6, as Hale went 2-for-4. Pisani’s 2-for-4 effort led the home team, but Figueroa’s nine-game hitting streak came to an end with an 0-for-3 performance. UF returns to SEC action this weekend by hosting Western Division rival Arkansas (17-14/3-8 SEC). The series opener from McKethan Stadium will be at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.


Game Notes

·         Florida is now 4-0 when the opposing team scores a run in the first inning.

·         Junior Teddy Foster reached base in all four at bats for the first time in his career.

·         Avery Barnes is now 17-for-19 on the basepaths this season.

·         Florida has scored in the first inning in four of its last five games.

·         UF’s 19-3 record at home is its best record at home through 22 games since the 2004 squad started 20-2.

·         The win tonight was Florida’s sixth come-from-behind victory of the season.

·         The Gators are now 3-3 in one-run games.

·         Tonight marked the first time since March 11 that the Gators won despite scoring three runs or less (2-1 over Florida Gulf Coast).




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