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Saturday May 17, 2008Baseball Edges No. 13 Vandy, 13-12; Claims Third Seed At SEC Tourney

Gainesville, FL

Florida senior Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) (3-for-6) delivered a two-out, walk-off single in the 11th inning to lift the Gators (34-20/17-13 SEC) to a thrilling 13-12 victory over No. 13 Vanderbilt (37-18/15-14 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. The win not only completed a three-game sweep for UF, it locked up the third seed for next week’s SEC Tournament and raised the squad’s winning streak to four games. Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s club will face the sixth-seeded Commodores in opening-round action on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Regions Park.

 

"To have two exciting games to begin the series with and then finish up with a game like today was amazing,” O’Sullivan said. “The best thing about today was that we really battled back. We were down 7-1 at one point and really battled to stay in it. You can't really write a better script than for Jon (Townsend) to get the game-winning hit
on Senior Day. "

"I think playing this series at home was big,” O’Sullivan continued. “One thing that I have learned in this league is that home-field advantage is huge. When you’re dealing with young men, playing at home in front of the home crowd in a comfort zone gives them a sense that it is possible to come back."

 

Sophomore right-hander Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) (3-4) tossed three scoreless innings to register the win, as the Gators improved to 27-6 at home and 11-10 against ranked opponents. Florida trailed by scores of 5-0 and 7-1 before taking an 8-7 lead in the sixth. Vanderbilt countered with a four-run eighth to grab an 11-8 advantage before the Orange and Blue answered with four runs of its own in the home part of the inning to regain a one-run margin. The Commodores sent the game to extra innings with an unearned run in the ninth. The teams combined for 31 hits, 25 runs, eight doubles, seven homers and five stolen bases.

 

"I got a good pitch to hit,” Townsend said. “I think he (Brett Jacobson) was getting tired and was on his third or fourth inning. He threw me a breaking ball in the zone and it was a great pitch to hit. I am just glad that I connected with it."

"Coach O’Sullivan always tells us that we have our backs to the wall and going into this weekend, we knew that we would have our work cut out for us in order to secure our future,” Townsend said. “So, I think the main reason we were able to battle back so hard is because we knew that we had to win these games. We are just continuing to play so hard because we do not want the season to end. We enjoy playing as a team and have worked really hard up until this point.”

Sophomore Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) (3-for-5, two RBI, two runs) opened the decisive frame with a single up the middle off junior Brett Jacobson (1-4). Freshman Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (3-for-6, three RBI) came through with a flare into left with one down for two runners aboard before the reliever had senior Dustin Bamberg (Winter Haven, Fla.) fly out to right field. Townsend drove a 1-1 pitch into left field to plate Figueroa with the winning run. Prior to yesterday, Florida was 0-7 in games decided by a run in SEC play and posted consecutive triumphs by a single tally (5-4, 13-12) to complete its league schedule with a 17-13 mark. 

 

Vanderbilt exploded out of the gates with three runs and four hits in the first inning against freshman Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.). Senior David Macias (2-for-5, two runs) opened the game with a double and moved to third when junior Pedro Alvarez’s (3-for-4, three runs, two RBI_ one-out double to center field was lost in the sun. Junior Ryan Flaherty walked to load the bases and senior Shea Robin poked an RBI single into right field to open the scoring. Toledo rebounded with a strikeout of sophomore Andrew Giobbi before yielding a two-run single to freshman Steven Liddle (1-for-5, three RBI) through the right side. 

 

Senior Dominic de la Osa (2-for-6) belted his 10th homer of the campaign with two down in the second for a 4-0 Vanderbilt lead. Toledo (2.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 K) plunked Robin to start the third and was replaced by sophomore Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.). Robin swiped second base and took third on an errant relay throw before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Liddle for a five-run margin.  

 

Sophomore Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (3-for-5, three runs, three RBI) extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a solo shot off junior Nick Christiani with two down in the third. den Dekker’s eighth round-tripper enabled him to match the longest hitting streak of his career. 

 

Alvarez blasted his seventh homer with Macias aboard in the fourth to expand the Commodores’ lead to 7-1. Macias had legged out an infield hit and moved into scoring position with his sixth stolen base.

 

Florida answered in the bottom of the frame on Adams’ eighth homer to pull within 7-3. Senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) led off with his 10th double into right field and Adams sent a 1-2 pitch into the left-field bleachers for his first homer since April 27 against Georgia.

 

The Gators used a two-out rally in the fifth to even the score, highlighted by a three-run jack by senior Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla) (2-for-3). den Dekker sliced a one-out single up the middle and Figueroa drew a walk. After Christiani struck out McArthur, Adams rifled an RBI single into shallow left field. Barber stepped to the plate and cranked his second homer of the series and sixth of the campaign over the right-field fence.   

 

Junior Jonathan White started the sixth with a walk and raced over to third on a base-hit by de la Osa. The Gators were able to erase de la Osa at second on a relay throw from junior left fielder Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) to Figueroa to senior second baseman Townsend. Franklin issued a walk to Alvarez for runners on the corners and sophomore Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) was summoned from the bullpen. Over 3.2 innings, Franklin gave up five hits and a couple of runs. Davis had Flaherty ground out to Figueroa, who forced Alvarez at second for the final out.

 

Sophomore Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.) (2-for-3) launched his third homer deep to left with one down in the bottom of the sixth to give the Gators their first lead of the afternoon, 8-7. Freshman righty Russell Brewer had replaced Christiani (5.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 5 K) at the start of the frame.

 

Junior Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) took over in the seventh and retired the side in order. Senior Alex Feinberg reached on a throwing error by Figueroa to open the eighth and White followed with his first double of the season. The Commodores tied the game on a sac fly into right by Macias. After an intentional walk to Alvarez, Flaherty blasted a three-run homer for an 11-8 Vanderbilt lead.

 

Florida rallied with four two-out runs in the eighth to seize a 12-11 lead. Pinch hitter Bamberg drew a leadoff walk from sophomore Drew Hayes (0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R) before Vandy made the call to the bullpen. After freshman reliever Richie Goodenow recorded the first two outs, Tignor singled through the right side to push Bamberg to third and Barnes walked to fill the sacks. den Dekker roped the first pitch up the middle to reduce VU’s advantage to 11-10 and moved into scoring position with his 20th stolen base. Figueroa put the Gators on top with a two-run single into right field.

 

Helped by a Gator throwing error from Adams, the Commodores squared the game in the ninth. Mullaney replaced Keating (2.0 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 0 ER) at the start of the inning and had Giobbi ground the ball to third. A miscue on the play enabled the runner to wind up on second, where senior Brad French came in as a pinch runner. Liddle advanced his teammate with a grounder and Feinberg stroked a single up the middle for a 12-12 stalemate. Florida held a 17-14 advantage in the slugfest, as the quartet of Adams, den Dekker, Figueroa and Townsend had three hits apiece.

 

-UF-

 

 

 

 

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