Saturday April 25, 2009No. 22 Baseball Tops South Carolina, 8-3
No. 22 Florida (30-14/12-8 SEC) clinched its first series victory over South Carolina (27-17/9-11 SEC) since 2005 with an 8-3 victory on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. The Gators scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error in the sixth inning and added three insurance runs in the seventh and one in the eighth to defeat the Gamecocks in consecutive outings since March 26-27, 2005.
Seniors Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) (3-for-4, two runs) and Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) (2-for-4, two RBI) and freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (3-for-5, two RBI) spearheaded UF’s offense, which totaled 11 hits. Junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) improved to 5-0 with two scoreless innings and junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) recorded the final five outs to nail down his seventh save.
“Today was a pivotal game, but we’re certainly looking for a good game tomorrow,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Every win at this stage in the game is important. I thought we played really well today and Anthony (DeSclafani) had a good start once again. He’s been sharp. With Stephen (Locke) going deep into the game yesterday, it gave us some options in our pen today.”
South Carolina began the scoring in the first inning against freshman Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) on a sacrifice fly into right field by junior Nick Ebert (1-for-3, 3 RBI). Sophomore Whit Merrifield (2-for-3) and junior DeAngelo Mack (3-for-4) opened the game with consecutive singles to give the Gamecocks runners on the corners. Ebert then lofted a fly ball into right that brought home Merrifield.
The Gators countered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning off freshman Nolan Belcher (2-3) to take a 2-1 lead. Barnes led off with his seventh homer into the left-field bleachers, UF’s first time starting a contest with a dinger since Barnes accomplished the feat against Eastern Michigan on Feb. 25. Freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (1-for-3, two runs) reached on a throwing error by senior third baseman Andrew Crisp and wound up on third base and freshman Tucker followed with his seventh double to drive in his teammate.
Senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) belted his fourth homer with one down in the second for a 3-1 UF advantage. The slugger’s solo shot to left field also raised his hitting streak to nine games.
Back-to-back two-out singles by Pigott and Tucker in the fifth left runners on first and third for the hosts and Belcher worked out of trouble by having sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) force Tucker with a grounder to short.
South Carolina knotted the game in the sixth on a two-run single by Ebert. Junior Bobby Haney started the frame with a base-hit up the middle and Mack doubled into right center with one down. Ebert tied the game with a base-knock into left field and advanced to second on the relay throw. Davis replaced DeSclafani (5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 K) and induced consecutive flyouts by freshman Jackie Bradley, Jr. and junior Justin Dalles to keep the game deadlocked at 3-3.
The Gators capitalized a two-out throwing error by Haney in the home part of the stanza to re-claim the lead. McArthur legged out an infield hit and junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) earned a free pass with one down, ending the afternoon for Belcher (5.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K). Foster had a fielder’s choice against senior Curtis Johnson that erased Munroe at second base but the ensuing relay throw on the double-play attempt eluded Ebert at first base and enabled McArthur to score the go-ahead run.
Florida plated three runs in the seventh to build a 7-3 lead, highlighted a by a two-out, two-run double by McArthur. Barnes opened with a single and moved into scoring position with his 10th stolen base. Pigott walked and Tucker ripped a single to load the bases with none out before Adams lined out to shortstop. A fielder’s choice by junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) to first base provided UF with a 5-3 lead and McArthur cranked his team-leading 10th double into left field to clear the bases and put the Gators up by four runs.
After issuing a walk to Merrifield and a single to Mack with one out in the eighth, Davis (2.0 IP, 1 H, 3 K) was replaced by Bullock. The right-hander had Ebert ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
In the eighth, Mooney drew a leadoff walk from freshman Michael Roth and was sacrificed to second by Barnes before junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach , Fla.) sliced a single into left field. Soon after, Tucker delivered an RBI grounder to finalize the 8-3 margin. The teams will conclude the series tomorrow at 1 p.m. Junior right-hander Blake Cooper (5-3, 4.73) will pitch for South Carolina against a Gator pitcher to be determined.
· Today marked the first time in school history the Gators have defeated South Carolina by five runs or more in back-to-back games.
· Teddy Foster’s career-high fourth home run of the season in the second extended his hitting streak to a career-high nine games. During the streak, the senior is 13-for-28 (.480) with 12 RBI and 10 runs. It marked the first time Foster has ever hit dingers in back-to-back games. Foster has also reached base safely in the last 11 games he has played in.
· Preston Tucker has reached base safely in 15-straight games.
· Josh Adams’ six-game hitting streak came to an end with an 0-for-5 outing. Today marked the first non-shortened game all season where Adams did not reach base safely, a span of 43-straight games.
· Out of Florida’s 30 victories, 19 (including eight of its 12 SEC wins) have been from the come-from-behind variety.
· Florida improves to 14-2 when scoring in the first inning and 10-2 when playing error-free baseball.
· The Gators have now won four-straight series against SEC East opponents at home. The streak is the longest since 2004-05.
· The three runs put up by South Carolina was its lowest output in Gainesville since the Gators defeated the Gamecocks, 6-1, in Gainesville on March 27, 2005.
· Matt den Dekker’s eight-game hitting streak against South Carolina came to an end. It was the first career game versus the Gamecocks that den Dekker failed to reach base.