Sunday April 19, 2009No. 16 UM Takes Finale Over No. 20 Baseball, 5-3
Senior right-hander Scott Bittle (4-2) recovered from a shaky start to lift No. 16 Ole Miss (28-11/11-7 SEC) to a 5-3 win over No. 20 Florida (26-14/10-8 SEC) in the rubber game of the teams’ series at McKethan Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The game was shortened to eight innings due to the Rebels’ travel plans back to Oxford.
Bittle totaled eight strikeouts, allowing six walks and five hits, over six innings before sophomore Jake Morgan registered the final six outs for his fifth save. UM senior Kyle Henson was 2-for-4 with a game-tying two-run homer in the third and an RBI single in the sixth.
“I thought our game plan was good,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We got his (Scott Bittle) pitch count up. Our goal was to get Bittle to 100 pitches through five (innings) and that’s exactly what we did. Although we got him to 103 pitches through five innings, Bittle’s an All-American for a reason.
“The thing that’s disappointing is that we walked six batters and three of them scored. We walked the leadoff batter four times. We talked about it, but when the leadoff guy (Jordan Henry) has 23 stolen bases coming in to the game, you have to make him hit his way on. Three of the walks scored and we lost by two.”
Junior Jordan Henry drew a leadoff walk from freshman Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (3-5) to start the game and moved around the bases with a pair of thefts. Sophomore Matt Smith earned a free pass with two down for runners on the corners before Panteliodis had junior Zach Miller fly out to right field.
Helped by an uncharacteristic four walks from Bittle, the Gators grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) earned consecutive one-out walks before the righty countered with a foul pop-up by freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.). Sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (3-for-4) stroked an RBI single through the left side on a hit-and-run to drive in Pigott and break the ice. Senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) walked to fill the bases before Bittle issued another base on balls to senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) to bring in Barnes for a 2-0 score. The right-hander had junior Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.) fly out to the warning track in left to close the frame.
Henson evened the game in the third for Ole Miss with a two-run shot into the left-field bleachers. Panteliodis had walked Henry for the second-straight time and Henson stepped to the dish and bashed the first pitch out of the yard for his fourth homer, second of the series.
The Rebels’ bid to seize the lead in the fourth was cut down when Barnes threw out senior Jeremy Travis at home as he attempted to score on a two-out single into left field by sophomore Tim Ferguson.
The visitors moved ahead in the fifth on a wild pitch by freshman reliever Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) and a two-out flare by Miller. Panteliodis walked Henry again to begin the frame, prompting a pitching change. Larson replaced his classmate (4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, career-high 4 BB, 2 K) and Henry moved into scoring position with his third stolen base of the contest. Henson laid down a sac bunt to advance Henry and the Gators elected to walk senior Logan Power intentionally. A wild pitch from Larson allowed Henry to score the go-ahead run and Power to occupy second before Miller’s liner barely eluded Adams beyond second base to give UM a two-run lead. Freshman Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) prevented further problems by retiring freshman pinch hitter Matt Snyder on fly ball to right field.
UF answered in the home part of the fifth on a two-out RBI single by Adams to pull within 4-3. Pigott had doubled with one down to left field and was erased in a 6-5-4-1 run-down on Barnes’ grounder to shortstop. After walking Tucker, Adams roped a 2-2 offering through the left side to trim the deficit. With Gators on the corners, Bittle made McArthur his seventh strikeout victim to end the stanza.
A two-out rally in the sixth yielded another run for the Rebels to take a 5-3 advantage. Maronde put down the first two batters before surrendering a single to Ferguson, who then stole second base. After Henry’s fourth walk of the afternoon, Henson punched an RBI single into left to end the stint for Maronde (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K). Freshman Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) had a grounder by Power force Henson at second base to hold the deficit at two runs.
With Florida down to its final three outs due to the travel curfew, McArthur opened the eighth with a single up the middle and was replaced at first base by freshman pinch runner Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.). Soon after, junior Buddy Munroe’s (Miami, Fla.) fielder’s choice forced Weitzel at second for the first out. Tignor drew a walk to push junior pinch runner Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) into scoring position and Morgan fanned both Mooney and den Dekker to nail down the victory.
The Gators will be back on the road Tuesday night to face Florida Gulf Coast University at 7 p.m. The game will be held at Hammond Stadium, home of the Fort Myers Miracle, a minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.
· For the series, sophomore Josh Adams finished 5-for-10 (.500) with three RBI and two runs.
· In his last 10 appearances, freshman Anthony DeSclafani has a sparkling 1.24 ERA, giving up just four earned runs in 29.0 innings.
· The series loss at home was the first SEC series defeat for the Gators at home since losing two of three to Arkansas (1-2, 6-1, 4-10) on April 11-13, 2008.
· The Gators allowed just one run after the sixth inning all weekend.
· Preston Tucker’s career-high 10-game hit streak came to an end with an 0-for-3 performance, but the freshman has reached base safely in 11-straight games.
· Senior Teddy Foster recorded an RBI for his fourth-straight contest and has reached base safely in the last seven games he has played in.
· Senior Avery Barnes has crossed the plate 13 times in the last nine games.
· The Gators suffered just their second loss of the season when scoring in the first inning and their second loss of the season when playing mistake-free baseball.