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Wednesday March 4, 2009Florida Atlantic Edges No. 17 Baseball, 7-6

Gainesville, Fla.

An eighth-inning sacrifice fly by Florida Atlantic senior Nick Criaris snapped a 6-6 tie and lifted the Owls (8-1) to a 7-6 victory over No. 17 Florida (6-4) on Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium. FAU used a six-run sixth to erase a 4-0 deficit and freshman Hugh Adams pitched a scoreless ninth for his third save after the Gators put their first two runners aboard in the final frame. Senior Chris Schmitt raised his mark to 3-0 as the Owls notched their sixth-straight triumph.  


Making his second career start, Florida freshman Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) did not allow a hit until an infield single with one down in the sixth. The righty registered a career-high seven strikeouts, gave up one hit and was charged with three runs. UF senior Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) (1-2) took the loss after three innings out of the bullpen. Florida also stranded 10 runners in the setback.


"We certainly pitched well enough,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “The plan was to start Anthony (DeSclafani), a freshman, then go to two older pitchers to pick things up in the middle of the innings. Then Anthony got to the sixth, and we were going to go to a younger pitcher with the lead.


“What can I say? We were one strike away from getting out of the inning; then we had a passed ball, a wild pitch and a balk. They were things you don't necessarily see from older pitchers. It's frustrating and not something we typically see from our older pitchers, but that's what happened tonight."


Sophomore Riley Cooper (Clearwater, Fla.) (2-for-4) collected the game’s first hit with a one-out triple to straightaway center field off senior Adam Morrison in the third. However, he was erased at home when senior third baseman Troy Bubley scooped up a grounder from junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and threw to Criaris. 


The Gators opened the scoring in the fourth on junior Clayton Pisani’s (Naples, Fla.) two-out single that drove in sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.). Morrison had retired the first two batters of the inning before issuing a walk to Adams. Senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) stroked a single to left center for runners on the corners and Pisani poked a single just beyond Bubley’s reach to break the ice. Junior Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.) earned a free pass to fill the sacks and Morrison answered with a strikeout of Cooper.


Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) boosted Florida’s lead to 4-0 in the fifth with a three-run bomb over the right-field fence. Senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) had poked a one-out single and freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) followed with a walk. den Dekker then belted a 3-2 offering from Morrison out of the yard for his first homer since May 17, 2008 against Vanderbilt. After permitting a walk to McArthur, Morrison (4.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R) was replaced by Schmitt.


Held hitless into the sixth, Florida Atlantic erupted for six runs on three hits to seize a 6-4 advantage. DeSclafani had retired 14 straight Owls before plunking senior Tom Hatcher to start the inning. Bubley walked with one down and junior Anthony Mesa beat out a single that landed right in front of the plate for FAU’s initial hit. Junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) came out of the bullpen and fanned senior Jeremy Griffiths before a passed ball by Tignor allowed Hatcher to close the gap to 4-1. Davis uncorked a wild pitch for a 4-2 count, walked senior William Block for two men aboard and was taken out in favor of junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.). The righty walked senior Travis Ozga to re-load the bases and gave up a game-tying two-run single to sophomore Nick DelGuidice. Criaris put the Owls on top with a base-knock up the middle. After a dropped pop-up that would have been the final out, Bullock committed a balk that brought across DelGuidice.


The Gators countered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the stanza to even the contest at 6-6. Cooper roped a single to left with one down, Mooney drew a walk and Barnes picked an opportune time for his first double of the year to close the gap to 6-5. Pigott’s RBI grounder plated Mooney with the tying run.


Bullock (0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB) walked senior David Wilson to begin the seventh and allowed an infield hit to Bubley to prompt a pitching change. Mesa laid down a sacrifice bunt off Keating to move his teammates into scoring position. The right-hander stunted a possible rally by having Griffiths fly out to center and caught Block looking on strikes to keep the game deadlocked.  


FAU grabbed a 7-6 lead in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Criaris. Ozga doubled into the left-field corner to start the frame and DelGuidice followed with a single for runners on the corners. Criaris’ fly ball to center was enough to bring in Ozga with the go-ahead score. Tignor gunned down DelGuidice trying to swipe second and Keating jammed Hatcher on an infield fly to hold the deficit at one run.


Senior Alex Pepe relieved Schmitt (2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R) at the outset of UF’s eighth and was greeted by a single into right field by Tignor. The southpaw struck out Cooper and junior pinch hitter Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) and let loose a wild pitch to push Tignor to second. After Barnes earned a base on balls, Pepe had Pigott fly out to preserve the Owls’ lead.  


Florida had a prime opportunity in the ninth, as den Dekker led off with a walk from Pepe and Adams reached on a fielder’s choice against freshman Hugh Adams. McArthur fouled off strike three bunting, Pisani flew out to left and freshman pinch hitter Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) forced den Dekker with a grounder to end the ballgame. 


Led by multiple-hit efforts from Barnes and Cooper, the hosts held an 8-6 advantage in hits. UF opens a three-game series with Duquesne (0-7) of the Atlantic 10 Conference starting on Friday at 6:30 p.m.


Game Notes

·         Florida has strutted out a different lineup in all 10 games this season.

·         The 5.1 innings starter Anthony DeSclafani went to start the game without allowing a hit was the longest into a game any Gator starting pitcher has gone all season. The freshman struck out six of his first 15 batters, and between the first and sixth inning retired 14-straight batters.

·         DeSclafani’s seven strikeouts matched a season-high by any pitcher donning the Orange and Blue.

·         Brandon McArthur extended his streak of reaching base safely to 15 games dating back to last year.

·         Tonight’s three RBI by Matt den Dekker marked the most RBI by the junior left fielder since a 3-for-5, three-RBI performance against Vanderbilt on May 17, 2008. It was the first three-run dinger by den Dekker since April 2, 2008 vs. North Florida.

·         Tonight marked the first time since a 13-12, 11-inning victory over Vanderbilt on May 17, 2008, where the first four Gators in the lineup all scored a run.

·         The run allowed by Billy Bullock in the sixth was the first by the right-hander all season in 9.0 innings of work. It marked the first time since May 30, 2008, vs. Tulane where Bullock gave up an earned run (five appearances).

·         Avery Barnes knocked his first two-bagger of the season with a double down the left-field line in the sixth. Barnes has hit safely in eight of his first 10 games this season.

·         Patrick Keating’s relief appearance was the first for the senior since a two-inning performance vs. Vanderbilt on May 17, 2008. The earned run was the first by Keating in a relief appearance since giving up one versus North Florida on April 2 of last year. It was also his longest outing out of the bullpen since three innings versus UNF on the same date.




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