Sunday April 26, 2009No. 22 Baseball Finishes Sweep Of USC, 9-5
No. 22 Florida (31-14/13-8 SEC) completed its first sweep of South Carolina (27-18/9-12 SEC) in 12 years with a 9-5 victory on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium to increase its winning streak to five games. The Gators had not taken all three games from the Gamecocks since April 25-27, 1997, and improved their home record to 24-6. UF has now captured 12 of its last 15 games and is now 7-2 (.778) against its Eastern Division counterparts this season.
Sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (3-for-5) tallied four RBI and scored twice, while senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) was 3-for-5 to complete a series in which he was 8-for-13 (.615) with six runs. Freshman Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (4-5) yielded one earned run over 5.1 innings to earn his first SEC victory.
"I thought Alex (Panteliodis) did well by throwing strikes," head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We had a 7-0 lead after two innings. Sometimes, especially with young pitchers, you tell them over and over and over what they need to do. I was awfully proud of the way he competed and threw the ball in there. With the exception of a couple of misjudged balls in the outfield, I thought we did a great job defensively."
Florida exploded for four runs on and four hits and an error in the opening frame against junior Blake Cooper (5-4). Barnes and freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) opened with consecutive singles to extend their hitting streaks to eight and seven games, respectively. Freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) singled up the middle to load the bases with none out and Adams stroked a two-run single into left field to break the ice. A sacrifice bunt by junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) advanced his teammates into scoring position and a sacrifice fly into right field by senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) gave the Gators a 3-0 lead. Senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) was plunked by a pitch for two runners aboard and a throwing error by senior third baseman Andrew Crisp on junior Buddy Munroe’s (Miami, Fla.) grounder enabled Adams to come across.
Highlighted by a two-run single by Adams, the Gators increased their advantage to 7-0 in the second. Barnes started the stanza with his fifth double and Pigott earned a walk before Cooper committed a balk to push the runners over and was pulled from the contest. Freshman Adam Westmoreland was called in from the bullpen and issued a free pass to Tucker to fill the sacks. Adams collected two more RBI with a single into right field and den Dekker lofted a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right to balloon the lead to seven runs.
UF tacked on two more runs in the fourth for a 9-0 cushion. Adams collected his third hit with one down, den Dekker walked and McArthur stroked a single into right field to load the bags. Foster was hit for the second time in the contest, bringing home Adams, for an 8-0 cushion. Westmoreland had Munroe pop up to the catcher and junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) walked for a nine-run bulge.
Junior DeAngelo Mack (2-for-5) tripled to begin the fifth and scored on a sacrifice fly to straightaway center field by freshman Jackie Bradley, Jr., (2-for-4) to put the Gamecocks on the board.
South Carolina plated four unearned runs in the sixth to close within 9-5. Crisp bashed his team-leading 15th double and junior Kyle Enders (2-for-3) drew a one-out walk before a single by junior Bobby Haney (2-for-4) loaded the bases and prompted a pitching change. Freshman Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) took over on the hill for Panteliodis (5.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 K) and had a fielder’s choice by sophomore Whit Merrifield force Crisp at home for the second out. Pigott misplayed a fly ball to right field by Mack that enabled all three runs to score, narrowing the gap to 9-4, and junior Nick Ebert singled up the middle to reduce USC’s deficit to four runs.
After Larson walked Crisp with one down in the seventh, he was replaced by freshman Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.). The left-hander retired the first two batters he faced, junior pinch hitter Brady Thomas (strikeout) and Enders (ground out).
In the ninth, Bradley, Jr., opened with a single and advanced on a one-out single by Crisp. Junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) was summoned from the pen for Maronde (2.0 IP, 3 H, 3 K) and had a fielder’s choice by sophomore Parker Bangs force Bradley, Jr., at third base for out number two. The righty had junior pinch hitter Jeffery Jones ground out to end the game to collect his eighth save of the campaign and second of the series. USC held a 13-12 edge in hits and senior Teddy Foster’s (Jacksonville, Fla.) nine-game hitting streak ended with an 0-for-2 effort.
The Gators will break for semester exams and resume action next Friday night at SEC-leading Georgia, which entered the weekend No. 1 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll.
· Florida’s sweep over South Carolina was its first in the series since April 25-27, 1997 (8-5, 5-1, 2-1).
· With the sweep today, the 2009 squad became the first since 1998 to sweep three SEC home series in one season. Two (1988 and 1998) of the last four Florida teams (1988, 1994, 1995, 1998) to sweep three SEC home series reached the College World Series that same year. This year’s team also became the first Florida group since 2004 to sweep five weekend series at home in a season.
· With his 194th game started, Brandon McArthur moved into a tie with former MLB and Gator stars Brad Wilkerson (1996-98) and Herbert Perry (1988-91) for eighth place all-time in school history.
· The 26 total runs in the three-game series are the third-most in school history versus South Carolina. The 1996 team tallied 32, while the 1999 team put up 27 runs.
· The four runs put on the board by the Orange and Blue in the first stanza was its most at home since scoring four against Eastern Michigan on Feb. 25. The output marked the most runs scored in the first against SEC competition since the Gators scored six versus Auburn on March 15, 2008.
· Florida improves to 15-2 when scoring in the first inning.
· For the series, Barnes went 8-for-13 (.615) with six runs, two RBI, a home run, a double and a stolen base. Tucker batted .462 (6-for-13), with four RBI, three runs and a double. Tucker has reached base safely in 16-straight games.
· In the last three SEC series, Josh Adams is 16-for-37 (.432) with 15 RBI, nine runs, four doubles and two homers.
· The first four batters in Florida’s lineup all reached base in the first and second inning. Eight of Florida’s nine runs were from the quartet.
· Alex Panteliodis’ 5.1 innings pitched were a conference high for the freshman and his deepest outing since going 5.2 innings against Miami (Fla.) on Feb. 28.
· Matt den Dekker became the first player this season to reach base safely in his first three at bats in three different ways without recording a hit (Sacrifice bunt, sacrifice hit and a walk).
· With one inning of shutout ball, Greg Larson lowered his ERA to 1.13. 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.
· Florida recorded double-digits in hits in all three games this series for just the second time this season (Alabama).
· Teddy Foster’s career-high nine-game hitting streak and stretch of 11-straight games of reaching base safely came to an end with an 0-for-2 performance.