Wednesday March 25, 2009No. 23 Baseball Defeats UNF, 5-3
Florida redshirt freshman Justin Poovey (Granite Falls, N.C.) threw a career-high 4.2 scoreless innings to lead the No. 23 Gators (15-8) to a 5-3 win over UNF (9-16) on Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium. The right-hander (2-0) allowed three singles and matched a season high with three strikeouts. Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) went 2-for-4 with two runs and belted his fourth homer as UF forged a split of the home-and-home series.
“We fell behind early but kept fighting and came back,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I was really impressed with the balanced lineup we had out there and I think that is the best one we have had this year. The three freshmen (Ben McMahan, Preston Tucker and Daniel Pigott) are all swinging the bat well.
“Justin (Poovey) provided exactly what we needed today. He fell behind a bit early by letting two on, but settled down and gave us some very good innings. (Stephen) Locke really helps this staff - he throws strikes and pitching just comes easy to him. He is well-liked around here and it helps adding one more veteran to this team.
“We were a lot more aggressive tonight and that led to more runs on the scoreboard. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t fall and we had a little bad luck during the past couple of games. Hitting is contagious and when we buckle down and are more aggressive, good things happen.”
“Tonight’s win was very important for the team’s confidence,” Poovey said. “We scuffled a little bit last night so it was a good win for us.”
The Ospreys capitalized on a Gator error to take a 1-0 lead in the second. Junior TJ Thompson (2-for-3, two RBI) opened the inning with a double into the right-field corner off senior Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.), who was making his season debut. A fielding error by junior second baseman Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) on sophomore Kyle Dahl’s grounder left runners on the corners with none out. Although Locke had sophomore Paul Morales ground into a 4-6-3 double play, Thompson scored. Over two innings, Locke registered two strikeouts and gave up one hit.
den Dekker evened the game at 1-1 in the third with his team-leading fourth homer. The blast extended his hitting streak to eight games and came with one down off sophomore Robbie Collier (0-2).
The Gators seized a 2-1 lead in the fourth on an RBI single by senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.). Senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) began the stanza with his third double into right field and had been sacrificed into scoring position by junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.).
UF plated two runs on two hits and three errors in the fifth to build a 4-1 lead. A one-out base-hit up the middle by den Dekker ended the night for Collier, who scattered five hits and gave up three runs over 4.1 innings. Freshman Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) reached on a fielding error by UNF freshman third baseman Andrew Karmeris and took second on a throwing error by sophomore left fielder Michael Smith. With two runners in scoring position, sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville , Fla.) rifled an RBI single into right field off junior Tucker Pryor that brought across den Dekker and McMahan came home on the play courtesy of a throwing error by junior right fielder Preston Hale. The base-knock raised Adams’ hitting streak to a career-high eight games.
Florida tacked on another run in the sixth on a wild pitch to gain a 5-1 advantage. Freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-3) singled and classmate Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) was hit by a pitch before den Dekker drew a two-out walk to load the bases. With McMahan batting, Pryor’s pitch went to the backstop and Tucker came racing home.
Poovey tossed 4.2 innings without surrendering a run and the righty matched a personal-best with three strikeouts. He yielded to freshman Will Jolin (Guilford, Conn.) with two out in the seventh.
The Ospreys closed the gap to 5-3 in the eighth on a two-out, two-run single by Thompson off freshman Alex Pantelidois (Tampa, Fla.). Smith led off with a walk from Jolin and a double with two down by Karmeris (2-for-4) left the Ospreys with a couple of runners in scoring position. Pantelodis was summoned from the bullpen for Jolin (1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R) and smacked the southpaw’s first pitch into right field to reduce the deficit to two runs. Junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) pitched a scoreless ninth to notch his fourth save.
Florida (3-3) resumes Southeastern Conference action on Friday night when it hosts Alabama (16-7/3-3 SEC) in the opener of a three-game series at McKethan Stadium. The Crimson Tide and UF split the first two meetings in Tuscaloosa last May before the home team claimed an 8-7 win in the finale.
· The Gators’ eight-game home winning streak is the longest of the season and the longest since the Orange and Blue won 10 straight at McKethan Stadium from March 8-29, 2008.
· Florida improved to 11-2 (.846) against unranked opponents this season.
· The Orange and Blue raised their record to a perfect 11-0 when leading after six innings.
· Nine of Florida’s 15 wins have been come-from-behind victories.
· In six-career games versus UNF, Matt den Dekker has batted .391 (9-for-23), with seven RBI, seven runs, two home runs, one triple and one double.
· Since moving to the leadoff spot March 18 versus UCF, den Dekker has scored nine runs in six games.
· Stephen Locke made his first start since the opening game of the NCAA Tallahassee Regional versus Tulane on May 30, 2008.
· Josh Adams improved his hitting streak to eight games, establishing a career high for the sophomore.
· Ben McMahan recorded his first-career run as a Gator when he crossed home in the fifth.
· In six-career contests against the Ospreys, Avery Barnes is 11-for-25 (.440), with seven runs, three stolen bases and two RBI.