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Friday April 11, 2008Arkansas Edges No. 21 Baseball, 2-1

Gainesville, FL -

Senior Jeff Nutt smacked a leadoff home run in the eighth inning to lift Arkansas (18-14/4-8 SEC) to a 2-1 victory over No. 21 Florida (23-11/8-5 SEC) on Friday night at McKethan Stadium in front of 3,523 fans. Sophomore left-hander Dallas Keuchel (3-1) threw a career-high 8.1 innings for the Hogs and sophomore Stephen Richards recorded the final two outs with the tying run on second base to pick up his second save. Keuchel scattered six hits, issued three walks and had a pair of strikeouts.

 

Unfortunately, the game came down to one run and walking the leadoff guy to start the game came back to hurt us,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “That ended up being the difference in the ballgame. I thought Billy (Bullock) threw the ball pretty well. Getting the leadoff runner on in the ninth, we felt like we had a chance to score the tying run. I thought that (Jonathan) Pigott hit the ball hard at the end of the game.”

 

Arkansas grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI groundout by junior Ben Tschepikow. Junior Logan Forsythe led off the game by drawing a walk from sophomore Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.), was sacrificed to second on a bunt from senior Sean Jones and moved to third on a balk. Tschepikow collected his 16th RBI with a grounder to third base.

 

The Gators evened the score in the third on a two-out single by senior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.). After sophomore Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) grounded into a double play, junior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) legged out an infield hit and stole second. Junior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) beat out a single for runners on the corners and Townsend stroked a game-tying base-hit up the middle.

 

Keuchel had retired seven consecutive Gators before Barnes opened the bottom of the sixth with a single through the right side. The southpaw set down Townsend on a fly ball to center and had sophomore Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play, the third turned by the Hogs to that point. 

 

Arkansas loaded the bases with two down in the seventh but could not reclaim the lead. After junior Ryan Cisterna started the frame with a bloop single into right field, Foster made an acrobatic catch behind home plate on junior Chase Leavitt’s bunt attempt. Bullock issued a walk to Forsythe for two runners aboard and was replaced by senior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.). Over 6.1 innings, Bullock gave up six hits, with four K and three walks. Edmondson struck out Jones on a 3-2 pitch as the runners swiped second and third and walked Tschepikow intentionally to fill the sacks. The reliever worked out of the jam by having freshman Brett Eibner fly out to left.

 

Nutt cranked his second homer of the campaign to begin the eighth for a 2-1 UA lead. He sent a 1-0 offering from Edmondson out of the yard in right center. Sophomore Tim Smalling reached on a one-out error by Pisani and Cisterna went down swinging. Leavitt then singled to left center, advancing Smalling to third, but was gunned down at second by Barnes trying to stretch his hit into a double.

 

In the home part of the stanza, Foster drew a one-out walk and was replaced by freshman pinch runner Chris Freshcorn (Tampa, Fla.). Keuchel retired Barnes on fly out and issued a free pass to Townsend before having Figueroa’s grounder force Townsend at second to end the inning.

 

Forsythe opened the ninth with a double to straightaway center field and Edmondson fanned Jones before departing. Over two innings, the righty (3-2) matched his career high of four strikeouts and surrendered three hits. Sophomore Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) struck out the lone batter he faced, Tschepikow, and was replaced by sophomore Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.). The right-hander had Eibner line out to sophomore Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) to keep UF down by a run.

 

Freshman Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) led off the final frame with his team-leading 14th double. Keuchel struck out senior Dustin Bamberg (Winter Haven, Fla.) and then yielded to Richards. The southpaw caught den Dekker looking on strikes and had sophomore Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) ground out to preserve the Hogs’ one-run triumph. 

 

Arkansas notched a 9-6 advantage in hits, with the trio of Cisterna, Leavitt and Nutt chipping in with two apiece. The Hogs stranded 11 runners, compared to six for the Gators. Barnes went 2-for-4 for his 13th multiple-hit game. Junior RHP Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) (5-0, 2.66) will oppose Hog right-hander Justin Wells (2-0, 4.68) in game two of the series at 4 p.m. tomorrow.    

 

Game Notes

·         Billy Bullock recorded his team-leading fifth-straight start of six innings or more and his second-straight quality start but received his second no-decision in a row.

·         Six of freshman Josh Adams’ last eight hits have been for extra bases.

·         In his last four games, junior Avery Barnes is 9-for-16 (.563) with five runs and three stolen bases.

·         Tonight was the third straight game a UF reliever received the decision.

·         Florida’s one run was the lowest output of the season.

·         Tonight was UF’s first Friday night SEC loss at home since a 9-2 defeat to Kentucky on April 20, 2007.

 

-UF-

 

 

 

 

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