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Thursday May 21, 2009No. 9 Baseball Ousts No. 7 Ole Miss, 12-2

Hoover, Ala.

Junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-5) matched his career high of four RBI and belted a pair of homers for the first time as second-seeded Florida (39-19) overpowered third-seeded Ole Miss (40-17), 12-2, in the first elimination game of the 2009 SEC Tournament on Thursday at Regions Park. The contest was halted after eight innings due to the 10-run rule.

 

The ninth-ranked Gators survive and advance to face the loser of tonight’s winner’s bracket matchup between No. 6 Georgia and No. 7 Arkansas tomorrow at 4 p.m. on Sun Sports. Meanwhile, the seventh-ranked Rebels will return to Oxford and await Monday’s NCAA Tournament selection show that will air live on ESPN at 12:30 p.m. 

 

Freshman Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) (6-3) yielded two runs over 5.2 innings and was supported by an offense that banged out 15 hits and scored in six of eight at bats. Freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) went 3-for-5 and drove in three more runs, senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) was 2-for-4 with two RBI and scored twice and junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) was 2-for-3 and contributed a two-run single.

 

Pigott opened the scoring with one down in the first inning with a solo shot to left field off senior Brett Bukvich (9-3). It was his third homer of the year and first since May 1 at Georgia.

 

The Rebels answered in the bottom of the inning against DeSclafani on an RBI grounder by senior Kyle Henson to even the game. Junior Jordan Henry (2-for-4) led off with a single into left field and stole second base for his 33rd theft. A grounder by senior Logan Power advanced Henry to third and Henson’s grounder to third tied the score.

 

UM seized a 2-1 lead in the second on a one-out single into right field by junior David Phillips. Freshman Matt Snyder had opened the frame with a base-hit through the left side and went to second on junior Zach Miller’s grounder. Phillips stroked DeSclafani’s initial offering to right field to put the Rebels on top.

 

Tucker knotted the game at 2-2 with a leadoff homer in the fourth that caromed off the left-field foul pole. It was the team-leading 12th dinger for the SEC Co-Freshman of the Year. Tucker increased his team-best total to 77 RBI versus the Rebels, three shy of the single-season record of 80 set by Ryan Shealy during the 2002 campaign.

 

Barnes roped a two-run single and Tucker chipped in with a run-scoring double as part of a fifth-inning explosion of five hits that gave the Gators a 4-2 advantage. Munroe and Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) opened with back-to-back singles and a throwing error by Bukvich on an errant pickoff throw to second base enabled both runners to move into scoring position. Barnes sliced a base-knock into left to drive in his teammates and end the afternoon for Bukvich, who permitted five hits and five runs and had seven strikeouts in four-plus innings. Tucker ripped his team-leading 12th double to right field off freshman reliever David Goforth to plate Barnes for a three-run lead. Sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) had an infield hit for two runners aboard but Goforth rebounded to retire freshman Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) (strikeout) and senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) (flyout).

 

Pigott expanded Florida’s lead to 8-2 in the sixth with a two-out, three-run jack to deep left field. Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) began the stanza with single up the middle and advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Munroe. After Barnes drew a two-out walk from Goforth, Pigott launched a 3-2 pitch out of the yard for his first-ever multiple-homer game. It was the just the second two-homer outing by a Gator at the SEC Tourney, as Brent Killen accomplished the feat against Georgia on May 14, 1992. The Orange and Blue’s third round-tripper of the day marked the second time in school history that the squad had cranked three in an SEC Tourney outing (vs. Mississippi State on May 15, 1987).

 

Power opened the home part of the sixth with a single to left, sophomore Matt Smith had a one-out single and Miller was hit by DeSclafani with two down to load the bases and prompt a pitching change. Senior Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) took over on the mound and had Phillips ground out to end the inning. Over 5.2 innings, DeSclafani scattered five hits and limited the Rebels to two runs. The righty registered three strikeouts and issued one walk.

 

Munroe came through with a two-out, two-run single into center field in the seventh to balloon UF’s margin to 10-2. Adams began the frame with a free pass and Thompson (2-for-5) followed with a base-hit into left field. After McArthur laid down a sac bunt to push his teammates over, junior Aaron Barrett fanned den Dekker. Munroe stepped to the plate and roped a 1-2 pitch to center to clear the bases and give the Gators and eight-run cushion.

 

In the eighth, Barnes bashed a leadoff double to straightaway center field off sophomore Jake Morgan and went to third on a grounder by Pigott. Tucker collected his third RBI of the game with a single into right field for an 11-2 lead and freshman Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) had an infield single with two down on a close play at first base to bring in Tucker with the final run. Keating was helped by 4-6-3 double play in the bottom part of the inning to nail down the victory. The righty threw 2.1 scoreless innings and gave up a couple of hits.

 

Game Notes

·          Jonathan Pigott became the first player to belt two homers in an SEC Tournament game since Todd Linden of LSU did it against Ole Miss in 2001. Pigott is the 18th player in SEC history to have multiple homers in a tournament game.

·          Pigott’s first-inning dinger was the first by a Gator in the opening stanza since Avery Barnes’ leadoff home run versus South Carolina on April 25.

·          His two home runs marked a career high for a game and was the first time since Josh Adams on April 11 against Auburn where a Gator player went yard twice. In Pigott’s last seven games, the right fielder is 10-for-28 (.357) with 10 RBI, six runs, three stolen bases, two home runs and one double.

·          The 12 runs scored by the Gators were the most by Florida in the SEC Tournament since a 12-4 victory over South Carolina on May 20, 2000.

·          The Orange and Blue recorded 15 hits, the most by a Gator team in the SEC Tournament since the 2002 squad also belted out 15 on May 25, 2002, versus Alabama.

·          Florida improved to 25-1 when scoring eight runs or more and is 18-3 when scoring in the first inning.

·          With his single in the fifth, Mike Mooney extended his streak of reaching base safely to 29 games, dating back to March 21 versus Tennessee. Mooney has crossed home in seven-straight games, a career high for the shortstop. This season against Ole Miss, Mooney is 5-for-14 (.357) with three runs, an RBI and a double.

·          Florida’s win over Ole Miss was the first victory against the Rebels in Hoover since a 10-7 triumph on May 26, 2005. It was the Gators’ first win in Hoover since defeating Alabama, 3-2, on May 24, 2007.

·          Out of Florida’s 39 victories, 25 (13 in the SEC) have been from the come-from-behind variety.

·          Josh Adams extended his hitting streak to seven games. During the stretch, Adams is 11-for-29 (.379) with nine RBI, six runs, a home run and a double. In his seven games versus Ole Miss in his career, the second baseman is 8-for-21 with six RBI, four runs and one home run.

·          In Anthony DeSclafani’s three career appearances against Ole Miss, the freshman has a 1.98 earned run average, giving up just two earned runs on six hits over 9.1 innings. The right hander retired 11 of 12 batters at one point in today’s game.

·          Over a span of seven career games versus the Rebels, Buddy Munroe is 8-for-21 (.381) with seven RBI, six runs, one home run and a double.

·          In his last six appearances, Patrick Keating has a 0.99 earned run average over 9.1 innings.

·          In the four games against Ole Miss this season, the Gators have allowed just one run after the sixth inning.

·          Preston Tucker’s 12th home run of the season in the fourth inning was his first to straightaway left all season. He has recorded multiple RBI in five-straight games, his second-longest streak of the season (six games from April 5-12). His 21 multiple-RBI games are the most by a Gator since current Cleveland Indian right fielder Matt LaPorta had 22 in 2005.

 

-UF-

 

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