Saturday April 18, 2009No. 20 Baseball Posts 8-4 Win Over No. 16 UM
In front of a season-high 5,103 fans, No. 20 Florida (26-13/10-7 SEC) notched an 8-4 victory over No. 16 Ole Miss (27-11/10-7 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium to even its weekend series. Senior Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) (2-0) went 7.2 innings for his second-straight win, junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) was 3-for-4 and scored twice and the Gators were able to convert four errors into five unearned runs. The teams will play the rubber game tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.
“It goes hand-in-hand when you have one walk and zero errors,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It seems like every time they put the ball in play, we played solid defense. I think moving Josh (Adams) to second and putting (Mike) Mooney back at shortstop really helped our infield. It solidified things for us.
“(Stephen) Locke did a really nice job for us, especially since I thought they did a great job making adjustments at the plate. We had to change our approach and throw our fastballs inside in a little more. I think that’s what helped us be successful for several innings.”
“I actually felt looser as the game went on,” Locke said. “I got into a groove and felt good as the game went on. Pitching deep into the game helps the bullpen stay fresh. They have carried us as of late, and to have them fresh heading into Sunday against a very good Ole Miss team is key for us. It was important to bounce back after losing last night and sets up a big game tomorrow. Every game counts down the stretch. We call games like tomorrow a ‘Sunday War’ and I fully expect it to be like that.”
The Gators capitalized on a two-out error to seize a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) doubled with one down off junior Phillip Irwin (5-3) but was cut down at the plate trying to score on senior Avery Barnes’ (High Springs, Fla.) base-hit, as senior right fielder Jeremy Travis fired a perfect strike to senior catcher Kyle Henson. Following a walk to freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-4), sophomore Josh Adams’ (Jacksonville, Fla.) grounder was misplayed by UM junior third baseman Zach Miller, allowing Barnes to tally the game’s initial run.
Aided by two more Rebel miscues, Florida increased its margin to 3-0 in the second frame. With one down, senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) singled and raced over to third on a hit through the right side by Mooney. Mooney moved to second on a throwing error by Travis on the play and den Dekker earned a free pass to fill the sacks. Pigott’s fielder’s choice to shortstop brought across Foster but a throwing error by sophomore second baseman Tim Ferguson trying to complete a potential double play enabled Mooney to score.
Locke retired the first seven UM hitters before yielding a one-out single by junior Kevin Mort in the third. Junior Jordan Henry (2-for-4) sliced a two-out single before Adams made a backhanded stop on Henson’s ground ball to force Henry at second base and close the stanza.
The Gators tacked on three more runs in the third on a sacrifice fly by Foster, an RBI single by Mooney and fielder’s choice by Pigott to build a 6-0 cushion. Adams singled into right center and McArthur reached on an error by Ferguson before junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) walked to load the bases with one down. After Foster lofted his second sacrifice fly of the year to straightaway center field, Mooney came through with a clutch single up the middle to plate McArthur. On the ensuing relay, Munroe moved to third and Mooney occupied second. den Dekker coaxed another walk to re-load the bases and a fielder’s choice by Pigott allowed Munroe to come home with the sixth run. Irwin had Barnes pop up to end the inning.
Miller (2-for-4) belted a two-run shot with sophomore Matt Smith aboard in the fourth to narrow the gap to 6-2. Miller’s third round-tripper cleared the right-field fence. UF answered in the bottom of the inning on an RBI grounder by Adams after a leadoff triple by Tucker boosted the slugger’s hitting streak to 10 games. Senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) doubled off the wall in left center to end the afternoon for Irwin (3.1 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 2 ER) and bring in junior Nathan Baker.
Ole Miss clawed back with a couple of runs in the fifth to trim the deficit to 7-4. With one out, Henry singled up the middle and Henson followed with a double. Senior Logan Power’s fly ball into right scored Henry and Smith punched a base-knock up the middle to drive in Henson.
Florida answered again in the home part of the fifth, as Mooney stroked his fifth double to start the frame and was sacrificed over by junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.). Baker committed a balk to allow Mooney to stroll home for an 8-4 lead.
In the seventh, Ferguson led off with a triple but was gunned down at the dish trying to score on Henry’s fly out to left on a bullet from Barnes to Foster. Locke then caught Henson looking on strikes for his fourth K.
Locke departed with two down in the eighth after permitting a single to Miller. Over 7.2 innings, the southpaw scattered eight hits, gave up four runs and registered five strikeouts. Freshman Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) had senior pinch hitter Michael Hubbard fly out to retire the side and set down the Rebels one-two-three in the ninth to complete the victory.
Eight of Florida’s nine starters contributed a hit as the hosts enjoyed an 11-8 advantage. The Orange and Blue did not commit any errors, improving to 9-1 this season when playing mistake-free. Baker threw 4.2 innings out of the pen for UM, allowing three hits and one run.
· The Gators scored a run in each of the first five innings for the first time since Feb. 27, 2008 (16-8 versus Eastern Michigan), a span of 93 games.
· Today marked the first Gator victory over the Rebels in Gainesville since a 17-6 win on March 17, 2002.
· Today’s attendance of 5,103 was the highest attended home game since a school-record 5,719 came out to watch the Florida State versus Florida game on March 18, 2008.
· Florida betters its record to 12-1 when scoring in the first inning.
· Senior Avery Barnes has crossed the plate 11 times in the last eight games.
· Over his last five games, senior Teddy Foster is batting .500 (8-for-16) with nine RBI, six runs, two home runs and a double.
· With senior Stephen Locke’s start today, the senior moved into a tie with John Kaufman (1994-96) for ninth place all-time in school history with 37 games started.
· Since returning to the lineup on April 7 after a 10-game absence with a foot injury, junior Mike Mooney is 9-for-22 (.409) with eight runs, eight walks, four RBI and three doubles.
· In his career-high 10-game hitting streak, freshman Preston Tucker is hitting .477 (21-for-44) with 31 RBI and seven homers.