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Wednesday February 25, 2009No. 12 Baseball Overwhelms EMU, 17-6

Gainesville, Fla.

No. 12 Florida (5-0) clubbed three home runs, highlighted by a go-ahead grand slam and a career-high four RBI from sophomore Riley Cooper (Clearwater, Fla.) and a three-run shot by junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.), to complete a two-game sweep of Eastern Michigan (2-4) with a 17-6 win in front of 2,143 fans at McKethan Stadium on Wednesday night.


Sophomore left-hander Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) (1-0) worked 2.1 scoreless innings to pick up his first victory since April 3, 2007, against Florida State. The Gators totaled 35 hits, 29 runs and 10 extra-base hits and sported a team batting average of .427 (35-for-82) in downing the Eagles twice.


"We were able to get several guys on the mound tonight,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We also had a lot of guys get at bats and a lot of the youngsters got their feet wet. I thought it was two good wins for us over Eastern Michigan. It was good to see Kevin (Chapman) come out and do a really, really nice job settling things down for us in the middle innings. That's what you need in games like this."


“This year, I feel a lot more comfortable than I did last year,” Cooper said. “I am just glad that I could help the team with the grand slam since it started a good rally and everybody started hitting after that.”


Eastern Michigan used a sacrifice fly by sophomore Matt Skirving in the first off freshman Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) to draw first blood. It was the first run allowed by Florida’s pitching staff in 17.1 innings. Junior Jim Gulliver singled with one down into left, sophomore Zack Leonard pushed his teammate to third with a base-hit into right center and Skirving lofted a sac fly to the warning track in left to begin the scoring. 


In the home part of the inning, the first five Gators collected hits off EMU sophomore Tim Combs (0-2) and the hosts tallied four runs to take a 4-1 lead. Senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) connected on UF’s first leadoff homer since March 25, 2006, when Gavin Dickey went deep against South Carolina. The round-tripper over the wall in right center was the team’s first big fly of the campaign. Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (3-for-5, three runs) singled to center and came around to score on sophomore Josh Adams’ (Jacksonville , Fla.) (3-for-4) second double of the season. After Adams raced home on a passed ball, senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) and freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) delivered consecutive singles. Following a fly-out to center by junior Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) that pushed him to third, McArthur scored on junior catcher Andrew Marshall’s second passed ball of the inning.


Freshman Johnny Crooks launched a grand slam with two down in the third to give the Eagles a 5-4 advantage. DeSclafani retired the first two batters of the inning before walking Skirving on four pitches and then yielding back-to-back singles by Marshall and senior Aaron Powell. Crooks sent a 1-2 offering off the scoreboard overlooking right field for his first collegiate hit. In his starting debut, DeSclafani gave up seven hits and five runs, with four strikeouts and a walk over three innings.  


Cooper belted his first career grand slam and the Gators totaled five runs with two down in the fifth to seize a 9-5 edge. den Dekker opened the frame with an infield hit and moved into scoring position when McArthur drew a one-out walk. A ground ball by Tucker advanced the runners to second and third and Pisani earned a free pass from Combs (4.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R) to fill the sacks. EMU elected to make a pitching change, as sophomore Corey Chaffins entered the game. The move backfired when Cooper bashed the righty’s first offering high over the trees in left field and into the parking lot of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. It was UF’s first grand slam since Cole Figueroa went yard in Coral Gables on March 2 of last year and raised Cooper’s hitting streak to eight games. Junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) followed with a single after the blast, advanced to third on junior Mike Mooney’s (Loxahatchee, Fla.) single through the right side and scored the hosts’ ninth run when Mooney was caught in a rundown and he made it home before his teammate was called out.   


The Gators tacked on seven more runs in the sixth on against a quartet of Eagle hurlers. Barnes started things off with a walk from Chaffins and stole second against EMU junior reliever Kevin Sikora. den Dekker drew a base on balls to prompt another call to the bullpen. Adams welcomed junior Steven Young with a single to load the bases and McArthur had an RBI grounder to put the Orange and Blue ahead by five runs. Tucker plated two runs with his first career double for a seven-run margin and Pisani greeted senior Bobby Henderson with an RBI single into center for a 13-5 Gator cushion. Following an infield hit by Cooper, Munroe cleared the bases with a three-run jack to deep left to increase the count to 16-5.


Chapman kept the Eagles off the board for 2.1 innings and was followed on the hill by junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) (0.2 IP, 1 H), freshman Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) (1.0 IP, 1 H), junior Chas Spottswood (Key West, Fla.) (1.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R) and junior Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.) (1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 K). A well-balanced Gator offensive attack saw 10 different players contribute at least one hit to the team’s total of 18, while Eastern Michigan was led by the duo of Powell (4-for-4) and Gulliver (3-for-4).    


The Gators will next welcome No. 10 Miami (Fla.) (3-1) to McKethan Stadium for three games this weekend. Senior right-hander Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) (1-0, 2.57) is scheduled to face UM sophomore southpaw Chris Hernandez (1-0, 1.50) in Friday’s opener at 6:30 p.m.


Game Notes

·         Kevin O’Sullivan became the first head coach in school history to start his first two seasons with a 5-0 record.

·         The 17 runs by the Orange and Blue marked the highest amount of runs scored by an O’Sullivan-coached team.

·         The 18 hits by Florida marked a season high and tied the club’s season high from last year, when the Gators banged out 18 hits against Eastern Michigan on Feb. 27.

·         Avery Barnes has scored a run in 21 of his last 22 regular-season games and is now 10-for-16 (.625) with 10 runs, five RBI, three stolen bases, two home runs and a triple versus Eastern Michigan.

·         Josh Adams recorded his first triple of the season in the first and his first three-bagger since accomplishing the feat against EMU on Feb. 27, 2008.

·         Tonight’s sixth inning marked second-consecutive game where the Gators scored seven runs in one inning. The feat marked the first time since May 1-2, 2004, where the Orange and Blue had back-to-back games with innings of seven runs or more. (nine in the sixth on May 1 and eight in the third on May 2)

·         The Gators’ 5-0 start for the second-consecutive season marked the first time since 1991 and 1992 where UF has had back-to-back seasons winning its first four games.

·         The three-run homer in the sixth by Buddy Munroe was the catcher’s first since May 9, 2008 at Alabama. The three RBI by the junior tied a career high, which he had accomplished twice before, last versus LSU on March 28 of last year.





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