Friday May 15, 2009Kentucky Holds Off No. 11 Baseball, 8-7
An eight-run third inning keyed Kentucky (28-25/12-17 SEC) to an 8-7 victory over No. 11 Florida (37-18/18-11 SEC) on Friday night at McKethan Stadium. The Gators scored four runs in the ninth to pull within one and had the potential tying run on third base before sophomore Logan Darnell struck out junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and had junior pinch hitter Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.) ground out to second base to end the game and collect his third save. The Gators and Wildcats will play the rubber game of the series tomorrow at 4 p.m., live on Sun Sports. It will be the regular-season finale and UFís seniors will be honored in pregame ceremonies.
With Florida down to its last three outs, freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) began the ninth with a pinch-hit single and junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) was hit by a pitch. Senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) earned a free pass to fill the bags with none out and prompt a pitching change. Freshman Braden Kapteyn took over for senior Chris Rusin (7-4, 8.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 K) and junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-4) dropped a single into no manís land in right field to score his brother for an 8-4 score. Freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) belted what looked to be a game-tying grand slam to deep left field that freshman Chad Wright snared with a phenomenal catch at the wall. Instead, it turned out to be a sacrifice fly as Mooney came across to reduce the deficit to 8-5. With runners on the corners, sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-4) pulled Florida within 8-7 on a two-run double off the wall in right field to clear the bases. Darnell was summoned from the bullpen and uncorked a wild pitch that advanced Adams to third. The lefty rebounded to strike out den Dekker and induced a ground ball by Tignor that sophomore Chris Bisson scooped up at second base and threw out Tignor on a bang-bang play to finish the contest. †
The Gators took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI grounder by Tucker that brought across Barnes. Barnes led off by being hit by a pitch from Rusin, moved to second on a balk and was sacrificed to third on a bunt by Jonathan Pigott. Tucker exceeded Brad Wilkersonís freshman record of 68 RBI that was set in 1996 by driving in two runs tonight.
Junior Gunner Glad (2-for-5) opened the second with a double to left off freshman Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) (5-3) and was sacrificed to third by sophomore Chris Wade. The rookie right-hander stranded the runner with consecutive groundouts by junior Keenan Wiley and Kapteyn (2-for-4).
Senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) (3-for-4, two RBI) belted a solo shot to begin the home part of the inning to give the Gators a 2-0 lead. His second dinger of the year, first since April 22 versus USF, landed in the left-field bleachers.
Kentucky sent 12 batters to the plate and erupted for eight runs on seven hits in the third, including six with two down, to build an 8-2 lead. DeSclafani plunked junior Marcus Nidiffer (2-for-4, two RBI) to start the stanza and freshman Cory Farris (3-for-5) followed with his second big fly that caromed off the scoreboard overlooking right field. Wright drew a walk and freshman Andy Burns singled for two men aboard. Junior catcher Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) threw out Wright at third base on Bissonís bunt that landed in front of the plate and DeSclafani fanned Glad for the second out. Soon after, Wade extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an infield hit to load the bases. Wiley roped a two-run single through the right side of the infield to give the Wildcats the lead and Kapteyn bashed a two-down double to chase DeSclafani (2.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R). Junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) came in and surrendered a two-run homer to left center by Nidiffer for an 8-2 Wildcat lead. It was his ninth of the year and second of the series.
Davis matched a career-high with 3.1 innings out of the bullpen and equaled his personal best of four strikeouts before being replaced by redshirt freshman Justin Poovey (Granite Falls, N.C.) following a leadoff walk to Bisson in the seventh. After Glad singled up the middle, Wade executed a sac bunt to move his teammates into scoring position. Poovey had Wiley fly out to right field and Mooney made a tremendous play on Kapteynís grounder to end the frame.
Nidiffer and Farris began the eighth with consecutive singles and a bunt by Wright pushed Nidiffer to third and erased Farris at second base. A two-out walk to Bisson loaded the bases and Poovey had Glad pop up to Tucker in foul territory to strand the runners.
McArthur delivered a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the inning to score den Dekker and narrow the gap to 8-3. Adams had drawn a one-out walk and was forced at second base on a fielderís choice by den Dekker. Rusin committed his second balk to push den Dekker into scoring position and McArthurís third hit of the game plated his teammate.
Poovey provided the Gators with three scoreless innings in which he scattered four hits. Kentucky held a 12-10 advantage in hits. In a battle of freshman left-handers, Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) (3-1, 3.96) will oppose Alex Meyer (1-4, 5.27) in tomorrowís finale.
∑ With Preston Tuckerís sacrifice fly in the ninth, the freshman broke Brad Wilkersonís mark of 68 RBI in 1996 for the most RBI by a freshman in school history. The 69 RBI by the slugger are the most by a UF player since current Cleveland Indian right fielder Matt LaPorta had 79 in 2005.
∑ The eight runs allowed by the Orange and Blue in the third inning was a season high for runs allowed in an inning. The last time the Gators gave up eight runs in an inning was in the fifth inning of a 12-6 defeat against Tennessee in the second game of a doubleheader on April 5, 2008.
∑ Brandon McArthur moved into sole possession of 10th place all-time in games played at the University of Florida with 210. The third baseman also moved into sole possession of sixth place all-time in games started at the University of Florida with 203. The seniorís four at bats tonight give McArthur 743 career at bats, good for ninth place all-time in school history. McArthurís home run in the second was his first since a solo shot versus South Florida on April 22 and his three hits were the most since banging out three against Vanderbilt on April 3.
∑ Mike Mooney and Brandon McArthur extended their modest hitting streaks to five games.
∑ Tony Davis matched a career high with four strikeouts.
∑ In his last four SEC appearances, Justin Poovey has a perfect 0.00 earned run average over 6.2 innings.
∑ Tonightís loss snapped a school-record 12-straight home wins against SEC East opponents. The contest also snapped the seven-game win streak versus SEC East foes. The defeat marked just the third time all season the Gators lost to an SEC opponent at home and lost despite scoring in the first inning.
∑ The Gators have scored five runs or more in an inning in 20 of its 55 games this season.