Sunday March 22, 2009No. 25 Baseball Finishes Sweep Of UT, 7-5
Senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) broke a 4-4 tie with a seventh-inning triple as No. 25 Florida (14-7/3-3 SEC) completed a weekend sweep of Tennessee (9-12/1-5 SEC) with a 7-5 win on Sunday at McKethan Stadium in front of 2,859 spectators. The Gators overcame a pair of three-run deficits en route to their first sweep of the Vols since March 28-30, 2003, and boosted their winning streak to five games, matching a season high.
Barnes (2-for-4) collected two RBI and sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) went 3-for-5 to complete a series in which he batted .500 (6-for-12) and scored four runs. Freshman Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) (1-0) earned his first collegiate victory with 1.1 scoreless innings, while junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) nailed down the final two outs.
“It was a big weekend for us,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “To fall behind 3-1 after two innings and come back, I’m really proud of the way they battled back and hung in there. I thought Alex (Panteliodis) did a great job and changed the momentum for us and (Greg) Larson threw well. They’ve (the pitchers) all had great weeks. We knew going into this weekend that it was going to be tough and they came through.
“The sweep should give us momentum, but it’s only the second SEC series out of 10 and we have a long way to go. They should be glad with the way they played, but our whole motto this week has been, ‘One game at a time.’ We need to enjoy it and get refocused for Tuesday so we can get back at it versus North Florida.”
“It’s a good feeling to come back home after a rough weekend at Arkansas and have a strong weekend like this against a great ballclub like Tennessee,” Barnes said. “Fortunately for us, we came out and played well enough to get the job done.”
Helped by a Gator error, Tennessee drew first blood in the top of the first inning against senior Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.). Junior third baseman Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) had an errant throw on a grounder from the leadoff batter, sophomore Josh Liles, and sophomore Cody Hawn drove in his teammate with a double into the left-field corner.
The Vols used a two-run double by freshman Zach Osborne (2-for-4) in the second to take a 3-0 lead. Back-to-back singles by junior Cody Grisham (2-for-3) and junior Mike Hornsby left runners on the corners and Osborne’s fourth two-bagger down the right-field line resulted in a three-run margin. After Liles drew a one-out walk, Hawn earned a free pass with two down to load the bases. Keating jammed sophomore Blake Forsythe (2-for-4) on an infield fly to strand the runners.
In the bottom of the inning, Florida had the bases loaded with none out against sophomore Bryan Morgado but managed just one run. Junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk and senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) sliced a line drive into right for two runners aboard. Foster moved into scoring position with his first stolen base of the year and freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach , Fla.) walked to fill the sacks. After Morgado had Pisani ground into 6-4-3 double play, scoring Munroe, the southpaw fanned sophomore Riley Cooper (Clearwater, Fla.).
Another Gator miscue in the third enabled the Vols to grab a 4-1 advantage. Freshman Charley Thurber walked with one out and Grisham laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance his teammate. However, a fielding error by Foster allowed Grisham to reach, Thurber to score all the way from first base and Grisham to wind up on third on the play. Freshman Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) replaced Keating (2.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER) and retired Hornsby and Osborne to strand Grisham.
Although UF answered with a run in the home part of the frame to close to within 4-2, Morgado had Foster ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play with the bases loaded. Freshman Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) (2-for-4) led off with a base-hit but was erased on a fielder’s choice by junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.). Adams extended his hitting streak to six games with a single for runners on first and third and Barnes delivered an RBI single to reduce the deficit two runs. A walk to Munroe loaded the bags and Morgado worked out of trouble by having Foster tap into double play.
The Gators tied the game with a pair of runs in the fifth. Back-to-back singles by den Dekker and Adams began the stanza and Barnes walked to fill the bases. The Vols called upon junior Aaron Tullo (1-2) to replace Morgado (4.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 3 K) and the righty plunked Munroe to bring across den Dekker. The reliever struck out freshman pinch hitter Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) and Pigott but then uncorked a wild pitch to even the game. Tullo whiffed Pisani to escape the jam.
Making his first relief appearance, Panteliodis worked four scoreless innings, permitting two hits and collecting two strikeouts. Forsythe greeted Larson with a base-hit into right and senior Cody Brown legged out a bunt to put UT in prime position. However, Larson had junior pinch hitter Jeff Lockwood ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Florida plated a couple of runs in the seventh to move in front, 6-4. Adams led off with a single and Barnes raked his fourth triple of the campaign into the right-field corner on a 3-2 pitch to give the Gators their first lead of the afternoon. Tullo had Munroe ground out to shortstop, leaving Barnes at third, and Tennessee replaced the righty with freshman Will Locante. Tucker stroked a one-out RBI single up the middle for a two-run margin that caused another pitching change, as senior Ty’Relle Harris entered the game.
Larson retired the first two UT hitters in the eighth on grounders before Osborne beat out an infield hit. Larson (1.1 IP, 3 H) then struck out Liles for what should have been the final out of the frame but a passed ball by Munroe meant two runners on base. Junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) came in and fanned sophomore Kentrail Davis to close the inning.
The Gators tacked on an insurance run in the eighth courtesy of a wild pitch to go up, 7-4. Cooper smacked a leadoff double and Weitzel ripped a single up the middle for runners on the corners. After Harris (1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 4 K) struck out den Dekker, Weitzel was thrown out trying to swipe second. Adams swung at strike three but a wild pitch allowed Cooper to score.
Forsythe belted his team-leading 10th homer with one down in the ninth off junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) to close the gap to 7-5 but the righty set down the next two batters to complete the Gator triumph. Florida held an 11-10 advantage in hits this afternoon and batted .351 (34-for-97) on the weekend.
The Gators will travel to Jacksonville on Tuesday night for the front end of a home-and-home series with UNF (8-15) at 7 p.m. The teams will meet in Gainesville on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
· Eight of Florida’s 14 wins have been come-from-behind victories.
· The last time Florida defeated Tennessee in four-consecutive games was during the 1998 and 1999 season, when the Gators won the Sunday finale, 17-5, on March 29, 1998, and swept the Volunteers between March 19-21, 1999, by scores of 14-2, 9-8 (13) and 18-2.
· With the sweep over Vanderbilt at home to end last year’s regular season and this weekend’s sweep over Tennessee, the Gators swept back-to-back home SEC series for the first time since 2004, when Florida swept Vanderbilt (April 23-25) and Auburn (April 30-May 2).
· This weekend’s sweep marks the first time since UF swept Auburn (March 23-25) and Georgia (March 30-April 1) in 2007 that the Gators have swept back-to-back weekend home series.
· Florida has a six-game winning streak versus SEC East opponents dating back to last year. This is the longest winning streak versus divisional foes since Florida captured seven-straight outings between the 2002 and 2003 seasons (2002: 3-0 versus Kentucky, 1-0 versus Georgia; 2003: 3-0 versus Tennessee)
· The Gators’ seven-game home winning streak is the longest of the season.
· Teddy Foster made his first career start at first base and stole his first base of the season in the second frame. The senior improved a perfect 5-for-5 lifetime on the basepaths.
· Florida has employed a different lineup in all 21 of its games this season.
· Josh Adams improved his hitting streak to six games, one shy of his career high set earlier this year.
· In nine games versus Tennessee, Avery Barnes is 15-for-33 (.455), with 22 RBI, 12 runs, four home runs and two doubles.
· Florida’s one through four hitters in the lineup (den Dekker, Adams, Barnes and Munroe) went a combined 16-for-43 (.372) with 15 runs, 14 RBI and three home runs.