No. 17 Kentucky (29-8/8-8 SEC) used a five-run
eighth to hand No. 24 Florida (24-14/9-7 SEC) an 11-7 setback on Friday night
at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The Gators had overcome a 6-0 deficit and taken a 7-6
lead in the seventh on a two-run homer by sophomore Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale,
Fla.) before the Wildcats erupted for five runs on four hits and a crucial
UF error against junior Stephen Locke
(Tampa, Fla.) (2-2) to capture game one of the series.
Senior Andrew Albers (6-1) threw four innings out
of the bullpen to earn the win, while senior Sawyer Carroll (3-for-4) drove in
a career-high five RBI. Returning to action for the first time since rupturing
his anterior cruciate ligament on April 2, senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.)
went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs for UF.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first
inning on a three-run homer by Carroll. Sophomore Keenan Wiley had led off with
a single into right field off sophomore Billy
Bullock (Balm, Fla.) and moved to second on a wild pitch
before junior Collin Cowgill drew a walk. Carroll then
blasted his 12th round-tripper deep to right field to open the scoring.
The Gators loaded the bases with one out in the
second against junior left-hander Chris Rusin, as senior
Dustin Bamberg (Winter Haven, Fla.),
den Dekker and McArthur each singled. Rusin rebounded
to strike out sophomore Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and had sophomore Buddy Munroe (Miami,
Fla.) ground out to end the
In the bottom of the frame, UK tacked on a sacrifice fly by
Carroll for a 4-0 margin. Sophomore Marcus Nidiffer
walked to begin the stanza and freshman Chris Bisson
reached on a throwing error by senior third baseman Jon Townsend (London,
Ky.). A sac bunt by Wiley
moved his teammates into scoring position, Cowgill
earned a free pass to load the sacks and Carroll lofted a fly ball into left
that scored Nidiffer.
Another sac fly in the third by Nidiffer
put the Wildcats ahead, 5-0. Senior Ryan Wilkes started things off with a
single through the left side and senior Tyler Howe doubled into the right-field
corner. Bullock had freshman Chris Wade fly out to left and Nidiffer
followed with his fourth sac fly to bring across Wilkes.
UF loaded the bases again in the fourth, courtesy
of a leadoff base-hit by Bamberg,
McArthur’s second single of the game and a hit by pitch to Pigott.
However, Rusin induced an inning-ending 5-2-3 double
play on a grounder from sophomore pinch hitter Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.)
to keep the Gators off the board.
A wild pitch from Bullock with two down in the
fifth enabled Cowgill to score the hosts’ sixth run. Cowgill was plunked with one out, stole second and advanced
to third on a grounder by Carroll.
countered with five runs on four hits in the fifth to close the gap to 6-5. Junior
Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.)
legged out an infield hit, went to second on an errant pickoff throw by Rusin and scored on a base-knock into right by Townsend.
Figueroa followed with a bunt single and freshman Josh Adams (Jacksonville,
Fla.) drew a walk to load the
sacks. After Bamberg
lined out to third, den Dekker was hit by a pitch to plate Townsend. McArthur
delivered a two-run single into right center for a 6-4 score and chased Rusin (4.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R) from the game. Sophomore Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.)
greeted senior reliever Brock Baber with a sac fly to dead center to reduce UF’s deficit to a run.
After issuing a leadoff walk to Howe in the fifth,
Bullock (4.0 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 BB) was replaced by
sophomore Clint Franklin (Orlando,
Fla.). Wade laid down a bunt
to move his teammate into scoring position and the right-hander set down the
next two batters.
Back-to-back one-out singles by Cowgill
and Carroll in the sixth ended Franklin’s
time on the hill. Over 1.1 innings, the righty allowed two hits but kept the
Wildcats scoreless. On his initial pitch, sophomore Tony Davis (Cooper City,
Spear ground into a 5-4-3 double play that ended the frame.
The Gators used a two-run homer by den Dekker off Albers
to grab a 7-6 lead in the seventh. Bamberg
had reached on a one-out fielding error by Bisson and
den Dekker deposited his sixth dinger of the year over the wall in right
tried to answer in the home part of the inning, when Wilkes led off with a
base-hit into right and moved to second on a bunt by Howe. Senior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange,
Ga.) replaced Davis and battled back from a 3-0 count to
fan Wade and had Nidiffer pop out.
for five runs on four hits and a damaging error in the eighth with Locke pitching
to secure the victory. After the southpaw yielded consecutive one-out singles
to Wiley and Cowgill, Carroll bashed a double off the
wall in center for his fifth RBI to tie the game. Spear was walked intentionally
to load the bases and Townsend misplayed Wilkes’ potential double play grounder
that allowed UK
to reclaim the lead. Howe notched an RBI grounder for a 9-7 UK advantage and Wade stroked a
two-run single up the middle to finalize the 11-7 margin.
Helped by their late outburst, the Wildcats had a
12-11 advantage in hits. Carroll and Wilkes tallied three hits apiece, while Cowgill and Wiley chipped in with two apiece. Besides
McArthur, Bamberg, den Dekker and Townsend
registered multi-hit outings for the Orange
and Blue. Florida will send junior righty Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.)
(6-0, 2.45) to the mound tomorrow at 7 p.m. against sophomore
left-hander James Paxton (3-1, 2.76).