Saturday May 16, 2009No. 11 Baseball Outlasts Kentucky, 13-9
Four unearned runs in the seventh by No. 11 Florida (38-18/19-11 SEC) paved the way to a 13-9 victory over Kentucky (28-26/12-18 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. Junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) snapped an 8-8 tie with a bases-loaded, two-out single and freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-5) followed with a two-run double to help the Orange and Blue take the rubber game of the series. Freshman Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (6-5) notched the win with 1.1 scoreless innings and freshman Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) was a career-high 4-for-4, belted his first career homer and also contributed career bests in RBI (three) and runs (three).
The Eastern Division Champion Gators will next be in action on Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the first round of the 2009 SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., as the second seed against seventh-seeded No. 16 Arkansas (32-20/14-15 SEC). No. 2 LSU (41-15) and No. 9 Ole Miss (40-15) shared the league’s regular-season title with identical 20-10 conference marks.
“At the end of the season, everyone has worked through their kinks,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I knew this was going to be a tough series with the three starters that Kentucky has. I was proud of the way our guys battled. Everyone felt the loss after last night. I could feel during batting practice the loss (from last night) was still lingering a little bit. We flushed it out of our system and Nick (Maronde) gave us a good start. Obviously, we have to do a better job staying out of the big inning. Games go different ways though. We had to find a different way to win. You’re going to win some 3-2 games and you’re going to win some games like this. You just have to keep scoring. The game changed when Alex (Panteliodis) gave up no runs in the seventh. That gave us the momentum to put up four in the bottom half and win the game.”
The Gators jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning against freshman Alex Meyer. Mooney drew a walk with one down and sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) was plunked with two out. A balk by the hurler pushed the runners into scoring position and junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-4, two RBI) had an infield hit that scored Mooney and a throwing error on the play by sophomore shortstop Chris Wade enabled Adams to come in with the second run.
Junior Marcus Nidiffer cut the deficit in half by leading off the third with his team-leading 10th homer off freshman Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.). Niddiffer’s third round-tripper of the series landed in the left-field bleachers.
Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) opened the Gator fourth with a single into right field and went to third on a pinch-hit single by Thompson on a hit-and-run. Meyer’s second balk of the afternoon allowed den Dekker to come home and Thompson to occupy second. Senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) (2-for-4, two runs) delivered a two-out single into center field to put Florida ahead by a 4-1 count. Barnes swiped second for his 13th theft and Meyer was charged with another balk to push Barnes to third. The southpaw ended the inning with a strikeout of Mooney.
Kentucky grabbed a 5-4 lead in the fifth on a three-run homer by freshman Andy Burns (2-for-5). Nidiffer was hit by a pitch with one down and freshman Cory Farris followed with a double for two runners aboard. Freshman Chad Wright (4-for-5, three runs) roped a two-bagger into right field to close the gap to 4-2 and Burns cranked his seventh dinger to left field to give the Wildcats their first lead. After issuing a walk to sophomore Chris Bisson, Maronde (4.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R) was replaced by senior Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.), who set down the next two batters to close the frame.
UF countered with three runs in the home part of the stanza and used Thompson’s first career home run to grab a 7-5 advantage. Adams drew a free pass with one out and raced down to second on a wild pitch. Pigott evened the contest with an RBI single up the middle and went to second on a fielding error by junior center fielder Keenan Wiley. With two down, Thompson blasted Meyer’s initial offering to straightaway center field to help the hosts re-claim the lead.
The Wildcats used three hits and a damaging Gator error in the sixth to move back in front, 8-7. Freshman Braden Kapteyn and Wiley started the inning with back-to-back singles and were sacrificed over by Nidiffer. A wild pitch by Keating scored Kapteyn to close the gap to 7-6, with Wiley advancing to third. The right-hander rebounded to catch Farris looking on strikes and Mooney booted Wright’s grounder to score the tying run. Burns rifled a go-ahead double into right center for an 8-7 Wildcat lead. Panteliodis took over for Keating (1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER) and had Bisson fly out to left field.
A well-placed bunt with two down in the bottom of the inning by Adams knotted the game at 8-8. Sophomore Logan Darnell (5-6) replaced Meyer (5.0 IP, career-high 12 strikeouts) before UF’s turn in the sixth and yielded a leadoff single to Barnes. The combination of a wild pitch and a grounder by Tucker advanced Barnes to third before Adams had a bunt single up the third-base line to even the contest.
In the seventh, Mooney delivered a bases-loaded, two-out single to give UF a 10-8 lead and Tucker bashed a two-run double for a four-run margin. Thompson established a career high with his third hit, a one-out single into left field and senior pinch hitter Teddy Foster’s (Jacksonville, Fla.) potential inning-ending grounder was thrown away by Wade for runners on the corners. Barnes walked on four pitches to load the bases and Mooney sliced a base-knock up the middle to score Thompson and freshman pinch runner Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) with two unearned runs. Tucker followed with his second double of the afternoon to clear the bases and give the Gators a 12-8 cushion.
Junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) collected a pair of strikeouts to open the eighth before surrendering a solo shot to Wright that made the score 12-9. The Gators answered with an RBI double by Thompson that scored Pigott for a 13-9 lead. It was his first career double, ended the afternoon for Darnell (2.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 2 ER) and finalized the margin. The Gators had four players chip in with multiple-hit outings and out-hit the Wildcats, 14-12.
· Florida has captured its last five series against Kentucky in Gainesville since losing two of three meetings in 1999 (3-0, 2001, 2-1 in 2003; 3-0 in 2005; 2-1 in 2007, 2-1 in 2009).
· The Orange and Blue improves its record to 21-7-1 (.759) versus Kentucky this decade.
· UF’s 30 combined runs against Kentucky are the most in a series versus the Wildcats since Florida put up 41 runs against UK on April 1-3, 2005 (10-9, 20-11, 11-6).
· The Gators finish the regular season with a 38-18 (.679) record and a 19-11 (.633) mark inside the SEC. The record features a 27-8 (.771) home record, including a sparkling 11-2 (.846) SEC record. The final regular season record of 38-18 (18-11 SEC) is Florida’s best mark since the 2005 College World Series squad also finished the regular season 38-18 (20-10 SEC).
· Only five teams in school history have won more SEC games than this year’s squad (21-1988; 21-1998; 20-1996; 20-2002; 20-2005). Four of the five teams that have won more SEC contests than this year’s team have advanced to the College World Series.
· The Gators improve to 25-1 when scoring eight runs or more in a game, including 10-0 versus SEC opponents at home.
· Billy Bullock’s home run given up in the eighth was his first run given up at home since March 22 versus Tennessee, a span of 12.1 innings and 10 appearances.
· Mike Mooney extended his hitting streak to a career-high six games.
· For the series, Josh Adams was 6-for-12 (.500) with seven RBI, three runs and one double.
· During the three-game homestand, Jonathan Pigott batted .500 (6-for-12) with four runs, three RBI, two stolen bases and one double.
· On the series, Avery Barnes went 6-for-12 (.500) with seven runs, one RBI and a stolen base. In his seven career games versus Kentucky, Barnes was 15-for-28 (.536) with 13 runs, four RBI, three stolen bases and a triple.
· Florida’s bullpen finished the series with a 2.21 earned run average, giving up three earned runs over 12.2 innings.
· Out of Florida’s 38 victories, 24 (12 in the SEC) have been from the come-from-behind variety.
· The Gators improved to 17-3 when scoring in the first inning and scored in the first inning in all three games against Kentucky.