Wednesday May 20, 2009No. 20 Arkansas Knocks Off No. 9 Baseball, 8-5
No. 20 Arkansas (33-20) capitalized on four errors that led to seven unearned runs to notch an 8-5 victory over No. 9 Florida (38-19) in the opening round of the 2009 SEC Tournament on Wednesday at Regions Park. The Razorbacks have claimed all four meetings between the squads this season. The Gators will face the loser of this afternoonís contest between third-seeded Ole Miss (40-15) and sixth-seeded Georgia (35-20) in an elimination game at 11 a.m. on Thursday. The game will be shown by CSS and air in Gainesville on Cox Communicationsí Channel 15.
Junior reliever Mike Bolsinger (4-4) threw 4.1 scoreless innings, permitted one hit and registered five strikeouts before junior Stephen Richards recorded the final three outs to collect his ninth save. Senior Chase Leavitt (2-for-5) and sophomore Travis Sample (1-for-3) each drove in two runs for UA, which enjoyed an 11-4 advantage in hits.
Helped by a Gator throwing error, the Hogs broke the ice in the second inning on an RBI grounder by freshman Bo Bigham. After freshman Zack Cox (3-for-4, three runs) opened the frame with a double to left field off senior Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) (4-2), he went to third on an errant throw by senior third baseman Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.). McArthur had snared sophomore Brett Eibnerís line drive and tried to catch Cox leaning off second base for a double play. Bigham brought across his teammate with a ground ball to short.
The Gators put their first two runners aboard in the bottom of the inning but failed to score. Sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville , Fla.) laced a leadoff single in left center and McArthur followed with a walk from junior Dallas Keuchel. Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) flew out to center field, pushing Adams to third, but then Keuchel retired senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) on a strikeout and junior Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.) on a pop up in foul territory.
UF used the combination two walks, two groundouts and an error to seize a 2-1 lead in the third. Junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) worked a leadoff walk after a nine-pitch battle with Keuchel and senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) followed with a free pass. Junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) advanced his teammates into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (three RBI) evened the score with a hot shot to second base that Bigham couldnít handle, allowing Mooney to score. The Gators used a double steal by Tucker and Barnes for runners on second and third, respectively, and Adams delivered an RBI grounder to give Florida a 2-1 lead.†
The Hogs grabbed control with five unearned runs and four hits in the fourth to chase Locke and build 6-2 lead. Cox stroked a one-out single through the right side and occupied second on Eibnerís fielderís choice when Tuckerís throw pulled Adams off the bag. Locke struck out Bigham but surrendered a pinch-hit single up the middle to junior Tom Hauskey that brought in Cox with the equalizer. Leavitt roped an RBI single into left field to drive in Eibner and move Arkansas in front and then went to second on a wild pitch. Senior Ben Tschepikow (2-for-3) walked to load the bases and Sample rifled a two-run double down the left-field line to drive in Hauskey and Leavitt. A throwing error on the relay by Barnes enabled Tschepikow to give UA a four-run advantage. Junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) was summoned to replace Locke, who allowed eight hits and six runs (zero earned) over 3.2 innings. ††
Florida answered in the home part of the fourth with three runs n two hits, including a two-run single by Tucker, to narrow the gap to 6-5. den Dekker began the stanza with a single through the right side and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.). Mooney and Barnes drew back-to-back two-out walks to fill the bags and a passed ball by freshman Brian McCann enabled den Dekker to narrow the gap to 6-3. With a 2-0 count on Pigott, Bolsinger replaced Keuchel (3.2 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 4 K) and finished off the at bat with a walk to re-load the sacks. Tucker delivered a clutch two-run single to center that reduced the Gatorsí deficit to one run and Bolsinger worked out of further trouble by having Adamsí fielderís choice force Tucker for the final out.
Davis issued consecutive walks to Tschepikow and Sample to start the seventh and had sophomore Andy Wilkins pop up a bunt attempt. Freshman Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) took over for Davis (2.2 IP, 2 BB, 1 K) and had a grounder by freshman Collin Kuhn move the runners over. The righty walked Cox intentionally to load the bases with two down and the maneuver paid off when Eibner hit a comebacker to the mound that Larson fielded to retire the batter.
Mooney committed an error on Bighamís grounder to start the eighth and McCannís sac bunt advanced his teammate and forced a pitching change. Leavitt delivered a single into shallow center field off freshman Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) to provide the Hogs with an insurance run and took third when the relay went to the plate. A grounder by Tschepikow pushed the runner to third and Sample earned a free pass for runners on the corners. Panteliodis had Wilkins line out to hold the score at 7-5.
Cox finalized the 8-5 score with a one-out homer in the ninth off redshirt freshman Justin Poovey (Granite Falls, N.C.). His eighth round-tripper cleared the wall in left field.
With the Gators down to their last three outs, Mooney walked for the third time to cause the Hogs to replace Bolsinger with Richards. Barnes legged out an infield hit that ricocheted off Richards for two runners aboard and a grounder by Pigott resulted in the duo in scoring position. Tucker earned a free pass to load the bases and Richards buckled down to have Adams hit into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.