Saturday May 2, 2009No. 17 Baseball Downs No. 6 UGA, 10-9, In 11 Inn.
Florida freshman Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) delivered a two-out RBI single in the 11th inning to score senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) with the winning run as the No. 17 Gators (33-14/15-8 SEC) clinched their weekend series with a 10-9 victory over No. 6 Georgia (33-14/14-9 SEC) on Saturday at Foley Field in the completion of Friday night’s suspended game. After collecting a save earlier in the day, junior righty Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) (2-2) threw 1.1 scoreless and hitless innings and registered three strikeouts to earn the decision.
With their season-high seventh-straight triumph, UF moved into first place in the Eastern Division. Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s club overcame deficits of 8-0 in the third and 9-7 in the eighth to take the series from Georgia for the third year in a row. In addition, the Orange and Blue has captured its last four series in Athens. The teams will conclude the series tomorrow at 2 p.m.
In the final inning, Barnes (4-for-7, two runs) doubled to left center off junior Dean Weaver (1-2) with two down and Thompson followed with a go-ahead single into center field to give the Gators their first lead of the contest. Bullock shut down UGA in the final frame with back-to-back strikeouts of senior Bryce Massanari (1-for-5, four RBI) and junior Joey Lewis (2-for-6, two RBI) and had sophomore Lyle Allen (2-for-5) fly out to left field to preserve the win.
When play resumed at 6:53 p.m., the Bulldogs had Allen on first base with one down in the ninth. Junior catcher Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) threw Allen out trying to steal second and senior Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) had sophomore pinch hitter Robbie O’Bryan fly out to left field to send the game into extra innings.
In the 10th, junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (2-for-4) smacked a one-out single down the left-field line off Weaver. He moved into scoring position with a two-out theft before the righty had junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach , Fla.) (2-for-6, three RBI) ground out.
In the bottom of the inning, junior Michael Demperio rifled a one-out double into right center, causing the Gators to replace Keating (2.1 IP, 2 H) with freshman Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.). The southpaw had junior Matt Cerione (2-for-5) fly out to right before being replaced by Bullock. The righty hit freshman Colby May but then struck out junior Rich Poythress (2-for-6) to extend the game into the 11th.
Although the Gators loaded the bases with none out in the first inning against senior Trevor Holder, they came away empty-handed. Barnes led off with a single up the middle and moved into scoring position with a theft. Following a walk to freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.), freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (3-for-6, two runs) blooped a single into center field to fill the bags. Holder worked out of the jam by having sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville , Fla.) (2-for-4) pop up to second base, den Dekker’s fielder’s choice force Barnes at home and struck out senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.).
In the bottom of the inning, Georgia exploded for six runs on seven hits, highlighted by a grand slam from Massanari off senior Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.). Locke committed a fielding error on Cerione’s leadoff grounder when he dropped a relay throw from Tucker. May and Poythress delivered consecutive singles to load the bases and Massanari launched his 16th round-tripper into the shrubs overlooking left field. Locke retired the next two batters before freshman Peter Verdin singled and another hit by freshman Levi Hyams (2-for-5) gave the Bulldogs runners on the corners. Senior Miles Starr dragged a bunt up the third-base line to score Verdin and Cerione stroked an RBI single into left to bring in Hyams for a 6-0 lead. Barnes threw out Hyams attempting to take third base to end the frame.
Lewis extended Georgia’s advantage to 8-0 in the second on a two-run homer to left field. Locke had plunked Massanari with two down and Lewis blasted his 14th dinger out of the yard.
The Gators used the long ball to edge closer, as Tucker cranked a solo shot in the third for his team-leading 10th big fly and the duo of junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) (1-for-4, two runs, two RBI) and Barnes went back-to-back in the fourth to close the gap to 8-4. Senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) laced a one-out single and Mooney stepped to the plate and sent Holder’s initial offering over the wall in right for his first homer at Florida. Barnes connected on the righty’s next pitch for his eighth homer to reduce UF’s deficit to four runs. It was the second time this season that the Orange and Blue hit consecutive homers, as Barnes and Munroe accomplished the feat against Tennessee on March 21.
Jonathan Pigott clubbed a two-run bomb with two down in the fifth to pull Florida within 8-6. Adams started the inning with a base-hit into left and was erased on a fielder’s choice by den Dekker. After McArthur’s grounder forced den Dekker at second base, Pigott socked his second homer of the year and first since April 11 at Auburn off the scoreboard in right field. Holder departed after five innings in which he gave up six runs on 10 hits and had two strikeouts and two walks.
Florida crept closer in the sixth courtesy of a two-out RBI single by Adams for an 8-7 count. Mooney drew a leadoff walk from senior Will Harvil, went to second on Barnes’ grounder and raced to third on a wild pitch. Harvil jammed Daniel Pigott on a pop up to first and Tucker earned a free pass for two runners aboard. Adams ripped a single through the left side to bring in Mooney and den Dekker walked to fill the bags and prompt another pitching change. Junior Jeff Walters came in and had McArthur ground out to third to preserve the one-run lead.
Locke was replaced by freshman Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) with two outs in the sixth. Over 5.2 innings, the left-hander permitted career-highs in hits (11) and runs (eight) but had a season-best seven strikeouts. Locke surrendered nine hits and eight runs during the first two innings but then battled back to hold UGA scoreless on a couple of hits until being taken out.
The Bulldogs tacked on another run in the home part of the stanza on a two-out single by Hyams for a 9-7 advantage. Lewis doubled just beyond den Dekker’s reach in center field with one down, bringing in junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) from the bullpen. The lefty issued a walk to Allen before punching out Verdin. Hyams hit a high bouncing chopper over McArthur at third base to drive in Lewis from second base. Davis struck out senior pinch hitter Adam Fuller to close the inning.
The Gators scored twice in the eighth to knot the contest at 9-9. Tucker began the inning with his third hit, an infield single deep in the hole at shortstop, and Adams followed with a walk. Junior Justin Earls relieved Walters (1.1 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 K) and threw one pitch, a sacrifice bunt by den Dekker that advanced his teammates into scoring position. Weaver came in and allowed a flare into right field by McArthur that plated Tucker and left runners on the corners. Jonathan Pigott had a fielder’s choice to short that brought across Adams with the equalizer. Freshman pinch runner Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) was forced out at second on the play and Pigott later went to second on a wild pitch from Weaver. The righty rebounded to have Munroe tap out to second base.
Keating entered in the eighth and permitted a leadoff walk to Cerione. Munroe made a diving play on May’s sacrifice bunt attempt for the first out, then Keating set down Poythress (infield fly) and Massanari (strikeout). Allen singled with one down in the ninth and Keating had a 0-1 count on O’Bryan when the skies opened up at 10:43 p.m. and the game was halted.