Saturday March 21, 2009No. 25 Baseball Overpowers UT, 10-2, To Clinch Series
All nine starters had at least one hit as No. 25 Florida (13-7/2-3 SEC) clinched its weekend series against Tennessee (9-11/1-4 SEC) with a 10-2 victory at McKethan Stadium in front of 2,929 fans on Saturday afternoon. The Gators defeated the Vols in a regular-season series for the first time since 2003 and extended their winning streak to four games.
Junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) (3-for-4) had a career-high four RBI and senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) drove in three runs as part of a 16-hit outburst for the Orange and Blue. Florida’s top four hitters in the lineup this afternoon were 7-for-14 with eight RBI and scored eight runs. Junior Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.) (1-0) captured the first SEC win of his career with 3.2 scoreless and hitless innings.
“It’s been awhile since we were able to get the lead early in a game,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We took some of the best batting practice that we have all year and it carried into the game. We were hitting well and hitting is contagious.
“We hit well at the top of the order and the switch of (Matt) den Dekker and Avery (Barnes) has worked out so far, especially for Matt. When he was hitting third, he was trying to yank it, but at the top of the order he is a much better hitter. We are still searching for a set lineup and there are some things that we have to change up, especially in the infield. But today, the guys that we need to perform did well.”
“The bullpen pitched well today. The big difference is getting the ball on the ground and getting more double plays and easy outs, instead of giving up fly balls.”
The Gators used back-to-back homers in the first inning by Barnes and Munroe off Vol junior Stephen McCray (3-1) to grab a quick 3-0 lead. Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (2-for-4, three runs) opened with a single and Barnes bashed his third homer of the year to right field with one down. Four of Barnes’ eight career dingers have come against the Vols. Munroe followed with his second big fly of the campaign, marking UF’s first consecutive homers since Bryson Barber and Riley Cooper (Clearwater, Fla.) accomplished the feat in the fourth inning at South Carolina on May 4 of last season.
“He threw me a fastball away and I got a piece of it,” said Munroe. “It felt good to get it and I’m seeing the ball well right now. It seems that I’ve been jumping on fastballs. Brad (Weitzel) told me not change anything (in my swing), so I’m not.
“The pitchers looked good and everyone pitched well today. We had a shutout going into the ninth and had a lot of good arms out there throwing in the strike zone. Everyone is out there attacking hitters, exactly what Coach O’Sullivan preaches. We have a little streak going and hopefully can keep it going a little bit more.”
Freshman Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) worked out of trouble in the third, as Tennessee had runners on second and third with one out but could not convert. After sophomore Josh Liles drew a walk and classmate Blake Forsythe poked a double, the left-hander struck out sophomore Cody Hawn and had sophomore P.J. Polk fly out to left field.
Florida broke the game open with three more runs in the third on four hits and two walks to take a 6-0 advantage. den Dekker led off with a base-hit and moved to third on a single through the right side by sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (1-for-3, two runs). Barnes drove in his third run of the day with a grounder to first to increase the Gators’ lead to 4-0 and freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) sliced a run-scoring single into right center for a five-run bulge. A single by senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) (2-for-3) ended the afternoon for McCray, who allowed nine hits and six runs in 2.2 innings before being replaced by senior Ryne Simpson. The reliever issued a free pass to junior Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) (2-for-3) to load the bases and walked junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) to plate the sixth run and prompt another pitching change. Freshman Adam Adkins prevented further damage by catching junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) looking on strikes.
Senior Cody Brown reached on an error by Mooney to begin the fourth and Franklin was summoned to replace Maronde (3.0 IP, 2 H, 4 K). The right-hander had junior Tyler Horne ground into a 5-4-3 double play and then fielded junior Cody Grisham’s bunt and threw him out to end the frame.
Munroe delivered a two-out RBI single in the fourth to put the Gators ahead by seven runs. Adams had drawn a walk with one down and moved to second on a wild pitch by Adkins. Munroe greeted freshman reliever Matt Ramsey with a single through the right side that scored Adams.
UF plated three runs in the sixth for a 10-0 cushion, highlighted by a two-out, two-run double by Munroe. Pigott began the frame with a single up the middle and Mooney sliced a hit into right field for runners on the corners with none out. Junior Jeff Lockwood replaced Ramsey (1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R) and a fielder’s choice by den Dekker enabled Pigott to increase the Gators’ lead to 8-0. den Dekker swiped second with one down and Barnes walked before den Dekker stole third and Barnes moved up to second. Soon after, Munroe raked a double into left field to clear the bases and give him a career-high four RBI.
Following a hit by pitch to Grisham with two down in the seventh, freshman Will Jolin (Guilford, Conn.) came in for Franklin (3.2 IP, 0 H) and went the rest of the way on the hill for the hosts. Tennessee avoided its first shutout loss to Florida since March 21, 1987, on a pinch-hit RBI double by freshman Charley Thurber and a fielder’s choice by Grisham in the ninth. Jolin pitched a career-high 2.1 innings and permitted three hits and a pair of runs with one strikeout. UF totaled 16 hits, its highest figure since a season-high 18 versus Eastern Michigan on Feb. 25, and limited Tennessee to five.
The Gators and Vols will wrap up the series at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow, when senior right-hander Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) (2-3, 4.37) opposes sophomore southpaw Bryan Morgado (1-0, 6.23).
· The last time Florida defeated Tennessee in three-consecutive games was March 28-30, 2003, when the Gators swept the Volunteers in Gainesville (5-3, 5-1, 7-5).
· In eight career games versus Tennessee, Avery Barnes is 13-for-29 (.448), with 20 RBI, 11 runs, four home runs and two doubles.
· The last time the Gators won by eight or more runs against an SEC school happened on May 18, 2007, when the Orange and Blue defeated Tennessee, 20-2.
· Today’s game marks the fifth-straight regular-season win for the Gators against a member of the SEC’s Eastern Division. The last time Florida won five-consecutive games versus SEC East foes was in 2005, when the Gators defeated South Carolina twice (March 26 and 27) and swept Kentucky (April 1-3) over back-to-back weekends in Gainesville.
· In his last three games, Clayton Pisani is 6-for-10 (.600) with a pair of RBI and two doubles.
· The Orange and Blue scored six runs in the first three innings for the first time since scoring eight runs in the first three innings in a 12-8 home victory over Auburn on March 15, 2008.
· The Gators’ eight hits through the first three innings surpassed the total of seven that they had in game one of the series.
· Florida’s three separate innings of three runs or more was the first time the Gators accomplished the feat against an SEC school since a 20-2 victory over Tennessee on May 18, 2008, where the Florida had innings of four, six, three and five runs scored.
· UF’s pitchers did not yield a hit between one out in the third and one out in the eighth.