Wednesday May 6, 2009FGCU Out-Slugs No. 9 Baseball
FGCU (31-16) registered its ninth-straight victory with a 17-5 triumph over No. 9 Florida (34-15) on Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium. Sophomore Zach Maxfield was 3-for-6 and drove in five runs, while classmate Tim Roberson went 3-for-6 and clubbed a grand slam as the Eagles ended the Gators’ eight-game winning streak. Freshman Jacob Barnes (1-1) picked up his first collegiate win with four scoreless innings in which he gave up three hits and registered a career-high six strikeouts.
Roberson cranked a two-out grand slam in the third inning to give the Eagles a 4-0 lead. Redshirt freshman Justin Poovey (Granite Falls, N.C.) (2-1) retired the first six FGCU hitters of the contest before yielding a leadoff walk to sophomore Robert Greene (1-for-4, three runs). Freshman Joe Guarnaccia (3-for-5) singled off the hurler’s shin with one down and a fielder’s choice by senior Josh Upchurch (1-for-5, two runs) forced Guarnaccia at second base and left runners on the corners. Sophomore Mikel Alvarez (2-for-4, three runs, two RBI) earned a free pass and Roberson belted his Atlantic Sun-leading 18th homer into the left-field bleachers to begin the scoring.
In the bottom of the inning, the Gators loaded the bases with one out against freshman Jason Forjet but could not score. Junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) (2-for-2, two walks) drew a walk and freshman Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) (3-for-4) singled through the left side before senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) loaded the bases with an infield hit to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. Forjet jammed freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) on a pop-up to second base before having freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-5) ground out to strand the runners.
FGCU plated five runs on seven hits in the fifth, including three doubles, to build a 9-0 lead. Alvarez started the inning with a single and a double by Roberson was followed by a two-bagger from Maxfield that increased the visitors’ margin to six. Poovey (4.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R) was replaced by sophomore Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.), who had junior Josh Chester (2-for-5) and sophomore Stephen Wickens (2-for-6) ground out. Greene doubled to left to score Maxfield and came home on an RBI single up the middle by junior Brad Roberts (3-for-5, two RBI, two runs). Guarnaccia collected his second hit of the game and a bunt single by senior Josh Upchurch, coupled by a throwing error by Chapman, enabled Roberts to score the ninth run of the game.
The Gators countered with five runs in the bottom of the inning to reduce the deficit to 9-5. Mooney and Weitzel opened the frame with back-to-back singles and freshman Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) earned a pinch-hit walk to fill the bags. Tucker stroked an RBI single into left field to score Mooney and sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) lofted a sacrifice fly to center field to plate Weitzel. Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) walked to re-load the bases and the Eagles brought in freshman CJ Evans for Forjet (4.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 BB). The righty surrendered a two-run single to junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and uncorked a wild pitch that allowed den Dekker to come in. The reliever had senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) ground out to end the inning.
Roberson opened the sixth with a base-hit into center field and moved into scoring position on an infield hit by Chester. Wickens roped an RBI single into left field for a 10-5 advantage that ended the night for Chapman (1.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R). Junior Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.) prevented further trouble by striking out Greene and Roberts.
Guarnaccia and Upchurch drew consecutive walks in the seventh and Alvarez stroked an RBI single into left field to boost FGCU’s lead to 11-5 and prompt another pitching change. After junior Chas Spottswood (Key West, Fla.) had Roberson fly out to deep center, Maxfield bashed a three-run jack to left field for a 14-5 cushion. It was his 16th dinger of the campaign.
In the eighth inning, Greene was hit by a pitch and Roberts walked before a run-scoring single by Guarnaccia chased Spottswood (1.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R). Soon after, freshman Lee Reumann (Wellington, Fla.) permitted a sac fly by Alvarez that pushed the margin to 16-5.
Chester walked to open the ninth and Wickens lined a base-hit into left field before Roberts delivered a one-out single to put the Eagles up by a dozen runs. Reumann (2.0 IP, 2 H) caught Guaranaccia looking for his second strikeout and had Upchurch ground out. FGCU held a 20-9 advantage in hits, with five that went for extra bases.
The Gators make their final SEC road trip of the season this weekend by traveling to Baton Rouge for a pivotal series at No. 3 LSU (36-13). At 16-8 in conference play, UF is tied atop the league standings with the Tigers and No. 7 Ole Miss. Game one from Alex Box Stadium will begin at 8 p.m. and be carried live on Cox Sports.
· Florida’s season-high winning streak of eight games and its nine-game non-conference winning streak at home came to an end.
· Avery Barnes improved his hitting streak to a season-high 12 games, the longest by a Gator this year.
· Jerico Weitzel made his first start since April 7 versus Bethune-Cookman and had a career-high three hits.
· Jonathan Pigott bettered his hitting streak to a season-high six games.
· Preston Tucker extended his hitting streak to seven games. Over that span, the freshman is 15-for-34 (.441) with 10 RBI, eight runs, two home runs and a double.
· The 17 runs allowed at home were the most since Stetson plated 21 runs in a 21-17 victory on April 11, 2001.
· The 20 hits given up tied the season high against Miami on March 1.