Sunday March 29, 2009No. 23 Baseball Sweeps Alabama, 10-7
All nine starters had at least one hit and six players turned in multiple-hit efforts as No. 23 Florida (18-8/6-3 SEC) completed a weekend sweep of Alabama (16-10/3-6 SEC) with a 10-7 victory on Sunday afternoon in front of 2,803 fans at McKethan Stadium. It was the Gators’ first sweep of the Crimson Tide since April 1-3, 1994, and UF has now taken its last six league outings and notched consecutive sweeps for the first time since knocking off Auburn and Georgia during the 2007 campaign.
“It was a great weekend for us against a solid Alabama team,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Not only are they talented, but they have great senior leadership. It was a hard-fought game against one of the best lineups we’ll face the entire year. We came up with some timely hits and everyone contributed from top to bottom. Once again, our bullpen and (Anthony) DeSclafani did a great job for us. They really settled things down for us in the middle innings.”
Freshman Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) (2-0) had a career-high 4.1-inning relief stint in which he retired the first eight Alabama he faced and registered five strikeouts. Junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) finished the eighth and recorded one out in the ninth before junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) set down a pair of Crimson Tide batters to collect his sixth save.
Florida sent eight batters to the plate against junior Del Howell (2-1) in the first inning and scored three runs, highlighted by a two-run homer by senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) (2-for-3). Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (2-for-3, three runs) opened with a single into left field to increase his hitting streak to 11 games and was sacrificed over by freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.). Barnes jacked his fourth homer into the left-field bleachers to establish a single-season career high. Sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-4, two RBI) singled and later stole second before senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) (2-for-3) and junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) (2-for-3) drew consecutive walks to load the bases. With sophomore Riley Cooper (Clearwater, Fla.) batting, Howell committed a balk that brought Adams across with the third run. The lefty fanned Cooper to end the frame, but not after he threw 39 pitches.
Senior Vin DiFazio clubbed a two-run shot off senior Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) in the second to pull the Crimson Tide within 3-2. Senior Kent Matthes (2-for-4) and junior Brandon May had back-to-back singles to start the frame before Keating had junior Jake Smith fly out to den Dekker. The center fielder gunned down Matthes attempting to take third base for the double play. Soon after, DiFazio belted a 3-2 pitch over the fence in left center to put UA on the board.
In the home part of the stanza, UF answered with a two-run single by Adams with two down to seize a 5-2 advantage. den Dekker was hit by a pitch with one down and Pigott earned a free pass before Barnes laid down his team-leading fourth sac bunt to put his teammates in scoring position. Adams cashed in with a base-knock into right field.
Alabama sophomore Ross Wilson delivered a two-run homer with one down in the third to narrow the gap to 5-4. Sophomore Josh Rutledge had stroked a single into left and Wilson cranked his sixth dinger and third of the weekend to trim the deficit to one run.
The visitors knotted the game at 5-5 in the fourth but squandered a chance to move in front after having the bases full with one out. DiFazio was plunked and senior Tyler Odle (2-for-3) executed a hit-and-run for runners on the corners. McArthur muffed senior Alex Kubal’s potential double-play grounder, enabling DiFazio to score the tying run. Freshman Taylor Dugas (3-for-5) extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a flare into left field to load the bases and end the afternoon for Keating (3.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R). DeSclafani worked out of jam by striking out Rutledge and having Wilson fly out to center.
Junior Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) (2-for-4, three RBI) led off the bottom of the frame with his second homer for a 6-5 Gator lead. It was his first big fly since March 8 versus Duquesne and came on Howell’s first pitch of the inning.
“Winning is definitely is contagious,” Pisani said. “Alabama is definitely a good team and has a lot of talented players so this weekend was huge for us. Any time you get a sweep in the SEC it’s awesome.”
Powered by six-straight hits, the Gators expanded their lead to 10-5 in the fifth. McArthur and Munroe began the inning with singles to prompt a pitching change. Senior Casey Kebodeaux replaced Howell (4.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R) and picked McArthur off second base. Cooper ripped a base-hit into center for two runners aboard again and Pisani cleared the bags with a two-run double. den Dekker then cranked his first triple of the season off the base of the wall in center field to drive in Pisani and force another call to the bullpen. Pigott greeted sophomore Nathan Kilcrease with an RBI single over a drawn-in infield for a five-run margin.
The Tide used homers by Matthes and Smith in the eighth to reduce UF’s lead to 10-7. Matthes launched his nation’s best 16th homer with a towering shot to deep left and Smith connected on his eighth round-tripper for a three-run deficit. Davis took over with two down for DeSclafani and retired junior pinch hitter Clay Jones on an infield fly. Over 4.1 innings, DeSclafani totaled five strikeouts, gave up three hits and permitted two runs.
A one-out single in the ninth by Dugas off Davis brought Bullock into the game. The righty caught Rutledge looking on strikes and had Wilson fly out to end the ballgame. Florida held a 15-12 advantage in hits this afternoon and batted .382 (42-for-110) over the three games to raise its SEC batting average to .320.
The Gators return to action on Tuesday night, when they face No. 22 Florida State (16-8/6-4 ACC) at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The contest will be carried live on Sun Sports at 7 p.m. UF claimed the first of the three meetings between the Sunshine State rivals on St. Patrick’s Day in Gainesville, 5-4.