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Wednesday April 22, 2009No. 22 Baseball Works Extra To Down USF, 5-4

Gainesville, Fla.

Florida junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) delivered a walk-off single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th to lift the No. 22 Gators (28-14) to a 5-4 decision over USF (24-15) on Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium. UF had tied the game with a pair of runs in the ninth to send the game into extra innings.

 

In the decisive frame, junior Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.) drew a one-out walk from junior Joe Cole (1-2) and freshman Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) delivered a pinch-hit single into right field. Senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) came through with an infield hit to load the sacks and Mooney sent Cole’s next pitch into left field to drive in Tignor with the winning run. Mooney also had a walk-off single to defeat No. 8 Louisville on Feb. 22 and the come-from-behind victory was the 17th for the Gators this season. Freshman Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) (2-1) collected the win as UF’s fifth pitcher of the night.  

 

“It’s been a long night…a long couple of nights,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “You know, you get tired when you get back around four o’clock in the morning. When you are struggling offensively, you have to get your bats going and get runs up on the board to give yourself a chance.

 

“I told Mike (Mooney) to be aggressive and look for something early in the count, because they didn’t have anywhere to put him. With the bases loaded and a tie score, they can’t put him on base by walking him. The key for him was to get up there and have the bat moving and the worst case scenario was to hit a fly ball.”

 

“With the late trip back getting back at close to four in the morning, we just came out flat today,” Mooney said. “It took us a couple of innings to really get going and get into the game. We scored those late runs and once we tied it up in the ninth, we had the moment on our side. We knew that good things were going to happen. 

 

“It’s fun to be the guy who is up to bat that everyone is counting on for the big hit. You get a hit and you’re the hero. Up to bat, you’re not always going to get a hit, but when you do in a big situation like tonight, it’s nice to be that guy and win the game for your team.”

 

Trailing 4-2 entering their last at bat in regulation, the Gators rallied for two runs. Senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) walked to lead off and a one-out single by Mooney pushed junior pinch runner Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.) to third. Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases and junior Matt Quevedo was lifted for Cole. The reliever uncorked a wild pitch to close the gap to 4-3 and freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly into left field that plated Mooney. Following an intentional walk to freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) and a stolen base, Cole struck out sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville , Fla.) to provide the fans with free baseball.

 

Senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner. Fla.) started the scoring with a leadoff homer in the second off junior Teddy Kaufman. It was his first dinger since May 15 of last year versus Vanderbilt, a span of 44 games, and gave him a round-tripper in five-straight seasons.

 

The Bulls took advantage of a Gator error and a wild pitch to seize a 2-1 advantage in the third. Junior Peter Brotons began the frame with a single and sophomore Ryan Lockwood walked on four pitches, prompting a pitching change, as senior Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) replaced sophomore Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.). (2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB). Soon after, Mooney misplayed sophomore Jonathan Koscso’s grounder to load the bases with none out. Sophomore Stephen Hunt tied the game with a sacrifice fly into center field to drive in Brotons. After a fielder’s choice by freshman Todd Brazeal erased Koscso at second, Keating fanned junior Chris Rey. However, an errant pitch on the strikeout allowed Lockwood to come across with the go-ahead run.

 

USF used a pinch-hit double by senior Brandon Smith (2-for-3) to increase its lead to 3-1 in the fifth. Koscso drew a walk with one down and Brazeal singled through the left side with two out before Smith raked a two-bagger off the wall in left field. Following an intentional walk to senior pinch hitter Trey Manz that loaded the bases, Keating (2.2 IP, 2 H, 3 BB) was replaced by freshman Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.). The rookie struck out freshman Sam Mende to strand the trio of runners.

 

Florida narrowed the gap to 3-2 in the bottom of the stanza but an inning-ending double play prevented the tying run from coming across. Mooney earned a base on balls from Kaufman with one down and scored all the way from first base on a double to left field by den Dekker. Pigott reached on an infield hit for runners on the corners before Tucker hit into a 3-6-3 double play as den Dekker was coming home to close the inning.

 

Larson worked two perfect innings before plunking Brazeal with two down in the seventh. Junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) had Smith fly out to center field to end the stanza.

 

Quevedo took over prior to UF’s seventh for Kaufman, who worked six innings and allowed four hits and a pair of runs. Foster, who had raised his hitting streak to seven games earlier with a base-hit in the second, led off with a single up the middle and pinch hitter Barnes was hit by a pitch. Mooney executed a sacrifice bunt to move his teammates into scoring position and a fielder’s choice by den Dekker resulted in the second out, as Foster was caught in a run-down between third base and home. Quevedo had Pigott line out to second to keep USF ahead by a 3-2 score.

 

Maronde took over for Davis (1.1 IP, 1 H) in the ninth and surrendered a towering homer to Koscso with one down for a 4-2 USF lead. It was his third of the campaign and went to deep left field. For the game, UF held a 10-7 advantage in hits, led by 2-for-3 performances by Foster and Mooney.

 

The Gators resume SEC action this weekend by hosting Eastern Division rival South Carolina (27-15) for three games at McKethan Stadium. At 10-8 in league play, UF is one game in front of the Gamecocks (9-9).

 

Game Notes

·         UF’s defense has not committed multiple errors in its last 10 games. The streak is the longest this decade for the Gators.

·         Out of Florida’s 28 victories, 17 have been from the come-from-behind variety.

·         The walk-off win was Florida’s fourth of the season and first since beating Alabama 9-8 on March 28. The Gators had just two all of last season.

·         Florida collected their first victory of the season when playing free baseball and their first extra-inning victory since a 13-12, 11-inning victory over Vanderbilt on May 17, 2008.

·         The extra-inning game was just the third all-time in the 40-year history of the series, with the last time being a 13-12, 14-inning Gator victory on Feb. 25, 2003.

·         Since an 0-for-5 performance against Florida State in Game 2 of the 2005 Super Regional, Brandon McArthur has recorded a hit in 19-straight home games versus in-state opponents.

·         Dating back to the beginning of the 2006 season, Florida is 11-0 versus the Big East Conference.

·         Tonight’s matchup marked the 100th game at Florida for head coach Kevin O’Sullivan.

·         Preston Tucker swiped his first stolen base of his career when the freshman stole second in the first stanza. Tucker has reached base safely in 13-straight games.

·         Kevin Chapman made his first start since March 27, 2007 against Bethune-Cookman.

·         Teddy Foster improved his current team-high and career-high hitting streak to seven games. The catcher has reached base safely in the last nine games he has played in.

·         With two innings of shutout ball, Greg Larson lowered his season-long ERA to 1.17. If the season were to end today, Larson would finish with the lowest earned run average of any Gator pitcher since aluminum bats were introduced in 1974.

·         Avery Barnes pinch-hit appearance in the seventh was his first since game two of a doubleheader against Brown on March 8, 2008.

·         The Gators’ nine-game non-conference winning streak at home ties the season high from last season.

 

-UF-

 

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