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Friday March 27, 2009No. 23 Baseball Explodes Late To Beat Tide, 11-4

Gainesville, Fla.

No. 23 Florida (16-8/4-3 SEC) overcame a 4-0 deficit with 11 unanswered runs to knock off Alabama (16-8/3-4 SEC) in the opener of a weekend series on Friday night at McKethan Stadium. The Gators plated three runs with two out in the seventh, highlighted by a double from junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) (3-for-4, three runs, two RBI) and a go-ahead two-run single by senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) (2-for-4). UF then erupted for six more runs in the eighth, featuring a three-run double by freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (3-for-4), to earn its fourth-straight league victory.

 

Junior Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.) (2-0) threw four scoreless innings of one-hit ball before junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) retired all six batters he faced to collect his fifth save. The righty entered the game in the eighth with two runners aboard and the Gators clinging to a 5-4 lead and later recorded two strikeouts when the Crimson Tide had a pair in scoring position.

 

“This was the first game where we looked like we did last year on offense,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I was really proud of the way we hit from top-to-bottom. Hitting is contagious and when everybody is swinging aggressively and putting the bat on the ball, good things will happen. 

 

“They certainly won the first three innings, but then we started to get some good swings on the ball and dug our way out. While Jeff (Barfield) certainly didn’t have his best start, Clint (Franklin) only gave up one run. That kept us in the game and allowed us to come back. He truly was outstanding tonight with the way he battled.”

 

The Crimson Tide jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning against junior Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.). Freshman Taylor Dugas (2-for-5) opened the game with a double to straightaway center field and sophomore Ross Wilson (2-for-2) drew a one-out walk before senior Kent Matthes roped an RBI single into right center to open the scoring. Barfield worked out of further trouble by having junior Brandon May ground into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play.

 

UA added another run in the second on a two-out single by Dugas. Senior Tyle Odle and junior Jake Smith (2-for-4) had back-to-back doubles with one down before Barfield fanned senior Alex Kubal. Dugas sliced a base-hit through the right side that put the visitors up by two runs. 

 

Wilson clubbed his fourth homer over the left-field wall to start the third and Smith bashed his seventh round-tripper to begin the fourth, ending the night for Barfield (3.0 IP, 9 H, 4 R). Franklin shut down the Tide offense for the next four innings, limiting it to only one hit. The four-inning stint by the righty matched a career high, set against Brown on March 8, 2008.  

 

A sacrifice fly by freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-3) put the Gators on the board in the fifth against senior Austin Hyatt (4-1). Junior Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) led off with a flare into left field and swiped his second bag of the season before moving to third on a grounder by junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.). Pigott’s second sac fly of the year to left center narrowed the gap to 4-1.

 

UF pulled to within 4-2 in the sixth on sophomore Riley Cooper’s (Clearwater, Fla.) first career sacrifice fly. Munroe opened with a single into left center and Tucker connected on his fifth double to give the Gators a pair of runners in scoring position with one down. Cooper lofted a fly ball into left field that brought across Munroe.

 

McArthur delivered a clutch two-out, two-run single off sophomore Nathan Kilcrease to provide Florida with a 5-4 lead in the seventh. Pigott and Barnes had consecutive one-out singles before Hyatt caught sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) looking on strikes for the second-straight time. Munroe rifled an RBI double, his third two-bagger of the year, into left to score Pigott and move Barnes to third. Kilcrease replaced Hyatt (6.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, season-high 8 K) and McArthur fouled off two 3-2 offerings in an eight pitch at bat before slicing a base-hit into center field. Tucker followed with a single to force another pitching change, as junior Austin Graham came out of the bullpen and struck out Cooper.

 

Following Franklin’s brilliant relief outing, freshman Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) entered the game at the start of the eighth and ran into problems by plunking Wilson and walking Matthes. May greeted Bullock with a sac bunt to push his teammates into scoring position with the potential tying and go-ahead runs. Bullock responded by striking out senior Vin DiFazio and Odle to preserve the tenuous one-run advantage.

 

The Gators exploded for six insurance runs on five hits in the bottom part of the stanza to put the game out of reach. den Dekker extended his hitting streak to nine games with a one-out double and Pigott singled for runners on the corners. After senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) (2-for-4) tapped a ball to first base that scored den Dekker, Adams drew a walk. Munroe stroked his third hit of the night to drive in Pigott and freshman Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) walked to fill the sacks with two down and cause another pitching change by the Crimson Tide. Tucker cleared the bases with a three-run double off junior David Head for a 10-4 cushion and Cooper completed the scoring with an RBI triple into the gap in left center.   

 

After trailing in hits at one point, 10-1, Florida rebounded for a 15-10 edge as five different players turned in multiple-hit efforts. In a matchup of freshmen left-handers in tomorrow’s second game of the series that will begin at 4 p.m. and air live on FSN Florida, Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) (1-1, 1.88) will oppose Adam Morgan (3-1, 3.10).

 

Game Notes

  • Florida defeated Alabama at home for the first time since a 9-3 victory on May 5, 2007.
  • The Gators’ 11 runs scored versus the Crimson Tide were the most against Alabama since a 12-5 victory on April 2, 1994. That contest also marked the last time Florida defeated Alabama by more than six runs.
  • Josh Adams’ career-high eight-game hitting streak was halted with an 0-for-4 outing, but with a walk in the eighth, the sophomore has reached base safely in all 24 games this season.
  • The seven-game home winning streak versus SEC opponents is the longest since 2002, where the Gators reeled off seven-straight win from March 30-April 27.
  • The win by Clint Franklin gives the Gator bullpen half of the wins for the team this season. Florida starters have now gone six-straight games without a decision. Florida improved to 12-2 (.857) against unranked opponents this season.
  • The Orange and Blue improved to a perfect 5-0 when playing errorless baseball.
  • Ten of Florida’s 16 victories have been come-from-behind victories. The Gators had 10 come-from-behind victories all of last season.
  • The 4-0 deficit the Orange and Blue overcame was the largest come-from-behind victory this season and the largest since being down 5-0 versus Vanderbilt on May 18, 2008, and coming back to win 13-12 in 11 innings.
  • The four-game winning streak versus conference opponents is the longest since March of 2008, when Florida took the last two of the Ole Miss series (March 22-23) and the first two of the LSU series (March 28-29).
  • Matt den Dekker bettered his season-long hitting streak to nine games with a one-out single in the eighth. Since moving to the leadoff spot March 18 versus UCF, den Dekker has scored 10 runs in seven games.
  • Preston Tucker had a career-high performance, notching career bests in hits (three), RBI (three) and doubles (two). The freshman completed multi-hit outings in consecutive games for the first time in his career.
  • Daniel Pigott recorded a career-high two hits and two runs.
  • Florida’s six runs in the eighth were the most by the Gators in an inning versus an SEC school since scoring six in the seventh versus LSU on March 28, 2008.

 

-UF-

 

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