Saturday April 11, 2009No. 22 Baseball Overwhelms Auburn, 24-2
Sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (5-for-6, four runs) belted a pair of homers and totaled a career-high six RBI as No. 22 Florida (22-12/8-6 SEC) evened its weekend series with a 24-2 victory over Auburn (23-11/7-7 SEC) on Saturday afternoon in front of 2,531 fans at Plainsman Park. Senior Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) (1-0) picked up his first win since May 16, 2008 against Vanderbilt by going eight innings. The southpaw scattered 10 hits, matched a season high with six strikeouts and permitted two runs.
Holding a 3-2 lead, the Gators exploded for seven runs on five hits in the sixth to seize control. Kevin O’Sullivan’s club tacked on nine runs on five hits and three Tiger errors in the seventh and added five runs on four hits in the ninth. Seven players turned in multiple-hit outings as UF banged out a season-high 20 hits and posted its highest run total since a 24-4 rout of George Washington on March 3, 2007. Senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) was a career-best 3-for-5 with four runs, three RBI and a two-run homer, while junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) notched his first grand slam in the ninth inning.
The Tigers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third on a RBI single by junior Joseph Sanders. Freshman Casey McElroy (2-for-2) singled to begin the inning for AU’s first hit off Locke. After a wild pitch moved McElroy into scoring position, sophomore Justin Hargett legged out a bunt for runners on the corners. An interference call on Foster during sophomore Trent Mummey’s at bat loaded the bases and Sanders opened the scoring with a base-hit into right field. Senior left fielder Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) (2-for-6, three RBI) gunned down Hargett at the plate on the play. Locke kept the home team off the board by having sophomore Hunter Morris’ grounder force Sanders at second base and then had sophomore Tony Caldwell fly out.
Adams provided the Gators with a 2-1 lead in the fourth with a two-run jack off redshirt freshman Jon Luke Jacobs (3-2). Freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-6, three runs, two RBI) led off with a single up the middle to raise his hitting streak to five games and Adams followed with his third dinger over the wall in left field for his first round-tripper since March 6, when he hit two against Duquesne.
Barnes increased UF’s advantage to 3-1 with a two-out single in the fifth that brought across junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) (2-for-4, two runs, two RBI). Mooney had started the frame with a flare into left and went to second on a wild pitch with one down. A ground ball by freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-5, two RBI) nudged Mooney to third and Barnes established a single-season high with his 28th RBI on a base-knock to left field.
Senior Ben Jones closed the gap to 3-2 in the bottom of the inning with a two-out single. Locke retired the first two hitters before allowing back-to-back singles by Morris and Caldwell. Jones drove in Morris with a single into right field and advanced Caldwell to third. Locke kept the Gators in front by having sophomore Brian Fletcher fly out to left field to strand the runners.
The Gators sent 11 batters to the plate in the sixth and erupted for seven runs on five hits in the sixth to build a 10-2 lead. Tucker drew a leadoff walk and Adams mashed a 3-1 pitch high over the left-field wall to end the afternoon for Jacobs (5.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 BB). It was the third multiple-homer effort of Adams’ career and his fifth-straight multiple-hit output in five games against Auburn. Senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) greeted junior Michael Hurst with a single into center, Foster earned a free pass and freshman Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases with none out. Mooney launched a two-run double into right center for a 7-2 Florida lead, chasing Hurst from the hill. Redshirt freshman Rus Harper fanned junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) but then Pigott singled into shallow right field for a six-run margin. A fielder’s choice by Barnes plated Mooney and Tucker followed with an RBI single to put Florida ahead by a 10-2 count.
McArthur reached on an error to start the seventh and a base-hit through the left side by Foster advanced freshman pinch runner Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) to third base. Freshman Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) delivered a pinch-hit RBI single into left field for an 11-2 cushion and den Dekker was later hit by a pitch with one down to load the bases. Pigott sliced a single into right field to score Foster and cause another pitching change. Freshman Zach Blatt replaced Harper (1.1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 2 ER) and Tucker collected an RBI when his grounder was misplayed by Hargett, scoring Pigott. A wild pitch moved Barnes to third and Adams drove in two more runs with a two-bagger into right center. After a groundout by Weitzel, Foster socked his first homer since May 10, 2008 at Alabama with a two-run shot over the left-field wall for a 19-2 bulge.
Adams opened the ninth with a double down the left-field line to become the first Gator with five hits in an outing since Barnes accomplished the feat at Kentucky on April 19, 2008. Foster bashed a two-bagger of his own to score Adams and both McMahan and junior Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) drew consecutive walks to fill the sacks. After den Dekker was retired on an infield fly, Jonathan Pigott cleared the bases with his first-ever grand slam to finalize the 24-2 margin. Freshman Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) recorded the final three outs for the Gators, which held a 20-10 advantage in hits. The teams will play the rubber game of the series tomorrow at 2 p.m.