Sunday April 12, 2009No. 22 Baseball Takes Series At Auburn, 5-1
Florida freshman Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) (4-1) worked a career-high 6.1 innings in his Southeastern Conference starting debut to lift the No. 22 Gators (23-12/9-6 SEC) to a 5-1 triumph over Auburn (23-12/7-8 SEC) on Easter Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park. The right-hander scattered four hits and registered six strikeouts, while limiting the Tigers to one run. Freshman Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) notched his first collegiate save with 2.2 innings of scoreless relief.
The victory in the rubber game of the series halted a six-series losing skid in league action on the road for Florida. Freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) snapped a 1-1 tie in the fourth with a two-run single, giving him 26 RBI over the past six games, and freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-4) delivered a two-run homer in the eighth as the Gators claimed their third consecutive series win over Auburn.
The visitors squandered a chance to break the ice after putting their first two runners of the afternoon aboard against junior Taylor Thompson (2-2). Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk and Pigott deposited a single into shallow center field. Thompson set down senior Avery Barnes (High Springs , Fla.) (strikeout), Tucker (infield fly) and sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (strikeout).
UF used a bases-loaded fielder’s choice by den Dekker to draw first blood in the second inning. Junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) had a bunt single with one down, followed by a base-hit by senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) and a walk to junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.). den Dekker’s ground ball to short brought across Munroe with the initial run, before Thompson had Pigott ground out to end the frame.
The Tigers evened the score in the third on a sacrifice fly to left by junior Joseph Sanders. Sophomore Justin Hargett (3-for-3) singled up the middle and sophomore Trent Mummey doubled down the right-field line. Sanders lofted a ball to deep left off DeSclafani that Barnes snared up against the wall, enabling Hargett to score easily with the equalizer.
Tucker came through with a two-run, two-out single with the bases full in the fourth to give the Gators a 3-1 lead. Mooney, den Dekker and Pigott had drawn consecutive one-out walks from Thompson, prompting a pitching change. Sophomore Bradley Hendrix replaced Thompson (3.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 6 BB, 4 K) and struck out Barnes. Tucker then laced a single up the middle to drive in Mooney and den Dekker, increasing his hitting streak to six games, a stretch in which he is 15-for-27 (.556) and has multiple-RBI in each outing. McArthur’s bid to extend Florida’s lead was denied courtesy of a sprawling catch by senior right fielder Ben Jones.
In the fifth, Hargett singled to center for the hosts and moved into scoring position on a grounder by Mummey. DeSclafani caught Sanders looking for his sixth strikeout, one shy of his career high set against Florida Atlantic on March 4.
DeSclafani retired the first batter of the seventh before Panteliodis was summoned from the bullpen. The lefty punched out sophomore Kevin Patterson but then yielded back-to-back singles to freshman Casey McElroy and Hargett for runners on the corners. The rookie southpaw had Mummey ground out to preserve the two-run lead.
Pigott provided the Gators with valuable insurance in the eighth by jacking a two-run shot over the wall in left for a 5-1 lead. Mooney had started the frame with a walk and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by den Dekker. Junior Austin Hubbard took over on the hill for Hendrix, who permitted just one hit over four innings, with three walks and three strikeouts. Pigott greeted the reliever with his second homer of the season. Although Auburn out-hit the Gators, 7-5, its pitching staff yielded 11 walks.
Florida heads to Tallahassee on Tuesday night for its final regular-season meeting with Florida State. The Gators and Seminoles have split the first two encounters, with UF taking a 5-4 decision at McKethan Stadium on St. Patrick’s Day and FSU notching a 3-2 victory in five innings at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville on March 31.