Friday May 29, 2009No. 10 Baseball Comes Back To Defeat B-CU, 8-7
A two-run, walk-off single by senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) capped a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth as top-seeded Florida (40-20) edged fourth-seeded Bethune-Cookman (32-27), 8-7, at the NCAA Gainesville Regional on Friday night at McKethan Stadium. The Gators next face second-seeded Miami (Fla.) (37-20) at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night in a winner’s bracket game that will be carried live on Sun Sports. The Wildcats will meet third-seeded Jacksonville (36-21) in an elimination game at 1 p.m.
With Florida down to its final three outs and facing a 7-5 deficit, freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (3-for-5, two runs, two RBI) opened the final frame with a single through the left side off B-CU senior Eric Thomas (7-6). Sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) drew his second walk of the game and junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) stroked an RBI single into right field to score Tucker for a 7-6 count. Junior Felix Machado was summoned to replace Thomas (0.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R) and had freshman Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) ground out, leaving Tucker on third and pushing den Dekker to second base. Freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach , Fla.) was walked intentionally to load the bases with one out and Foster sliced a 3-1 offering into right to plate Adams and den Dekker with the tying and winning run, respectively. It was the Gators’ 26th come-from-behind victory this season, eighth in their final at bat and fifth walk-off triumph. The win also enabled UF to reach the 40-win plateau for the 18th time in school history, first since the 2005 club went 48-23.
“Obviously, it was an exciting game,” second-year head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I tip my cap to Bethune-Cookman, they kept us on the edge of our seats all night. Every time we’d score a run, they’d counter with runs of their own. (Hiram) Burgos was outstanding tonight, I can’t say enough about him. The one thing we’ve been doing all year is fight our way back into games and that’s exactly what happened tonight. I can’t say enough about the way our team fought back here tonight and equally the way that Bethune played, they played outstanding and it’s a shame that somebody had to lose. Sometimes when you play at home and you get that last at bat, it makes a big difference.”
“He started off with a couple off-speed pitches and got behind in the count a little bit,” Foster said. “I finally got to a fastball count and got a pitch that I could handle. I didn’t try to do too much with it, just serve it into right field and get a hit.”
The Wildcats broke the ice with two runs on two hits in the second inning against freshman Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.). Sophomore Ryan Durrence (3-for-4, two RBI, two runs) drew a leadoff walk and sophomore Emmanuel Castro (2-for-5) followed with a double down the right-field line. The right-hander responded with a strikeout of junior Alejandro Jimenez and senior Chris Brown (3-for-4) delivered a single through the left side of the infield to drive in Durrence. With runners on the corners, freshman Peter O’Brien had an RBI grounder to second base that scored Castro for a 2-0 B-CU lead.
Bethune-Cookman tacked on two more runs in the third to build a 4-0 margin. Senior Mark Brooks (2-for-5) opened the inning with a single into right field and was sacrificed into scoring position by junior Justin Hoyte. Junior C.J. Lauriello walked on four pitches and Durrence ripped an RBI single up the middle for a three-run advantage to prompt a pitching change. Senior Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) replaced DeSclafani (2.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 2 K) and a passed ball by junior catcher Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) moved the runners into scoring position. An infield single by Castro brought home Lauriello and a fly ball to right field by Jimenez later pushed Durrence to third. Keating prevented further trouble by fanning Brown.
In the fourth, O’Brien reached on catcher’s interference by junior Hampton Tignor (Sarasota, Fla.) and was sacrificed to second by freshman Alejandro Sanchez. Keating caught Brooks looking on strikes and had Hoyte ground out to hold the deficit at four runs.
The Gators had the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning with two outs courtesy of walks to Adams and senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) and a hit by pitch to freshman Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.). However, Burgos responded by having Tignor fly out to right field.
Florida got on the board with a couple of runs in the fifth to pull within 4-2. With one down, senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) had an infield hit and junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach , Fla.) roped his fourth double of the season down the left-field line. Tucker legged out an infield single to score Barnes and collect his team-leading 78th RBI, two shy of Florida’s single-season record established by Ryan Shealy in 2002. Adams followed with another RBI single to trim the gap to two runs and extend his hitting streak to a career-high nine games. A fielder’s choice by den Dekker forced Adams at second base but left runners on the corners before McArthur flew out to left to end the inning.
Brown and O’Brien had consecutive singles to begin the sixth, leaving the Wildcats in prime position with runners on first and third, before Keating whiffed Sanchez. Junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) replaced Keating, who threw three scoreless innings and allowed four hits, and had Brooks ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Tucker cranked his team-best 13th homer of the campaign with two down in the seventh for a 4-3 count. The rookie slugger bashed a 1-2 offering from Burgos deep to right center for his 22nd multi-RBI game of the season. His 79th RBI matched Matt LaPorta for the second-most in a season by a Gator.
A pinch-hit, two-run homer by senior Drew Clark expanded B-CU’s lead to 6-3 in the eighth. Jimenez poked a leadoff single, ending Davis’ (1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 K) tenure on the mound. Freshman Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) came in and Tignor gunned down the runner attempting to steal second base. Brown singled with one down and Clark launched his second homer of the season over the right-field fence to put the Wildcats ahead by three runs.
Burgos came out after seven full innings in which he gave up eight hits and three runs, with six strikeouts and two walks on 136 pitches. McArthur poked a one-out single off sophomore Joseph Munoz and was replaced by pinch runner Weitzel. Thomas came out of the bullpen and plunked pinch hitter Daniel Pigott. A grounder by pinch hitter Foster advanced both runners into scoring position and junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) delivered a clutch two-run single to narrow the gap to 6-5. Barnes was hit by a pitch for two runners aboard and Thomas had Jonathan Pigott ground out to close the frame.
Durrence put the Wildcats ahead, 7-5, with a solo shot off junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) with one down in the ninth. It was his 11th round-tripper. Thanks to the heroics of Foster, Bullock earned the win to improve to 3-2 on the season. Although the Gators were out-hit, 14-13, they raised their all-time record to 23-0 against the Wildcats with the one-run decision.
· With this evening’s appearance, the Gators have now participated in 25 NCAA Tournaments.
· Today marked the eighth time that McKethan Stadium has hosted NCAA Regional action and the first time since 2005.
· Florida improves to 23-0 lifetime versus Bethune-Cookman, including 4-0 against the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament.
· The Gators improved their record to 23-7 (.767) on its own turf during NCAA play, and expand upon their now six-game winning streak at home in postseason play. Florida improves to 7-0 all-time in opening-round NCAA Tournament games in Gainesville.
· Out of UF’s 40 victories, 26, including both wins against Bethune-Cookman, have been from the come-from-behind variety. It was Teddy Foster’s third game-winning RBI of the season.
· The four-run deficit overcome was the fifth time this season the Gators had erased a deficit of that many runs and come back to win a game. The walk-off winner was the fifth of the season and the first since April 22 versus USF. The Gators had just two all of last year.
· Preston Tucker recorded his team-leading 22nd multiple-RBI outing tonight with two RBI, giving him 79 on the season and moving him into a tie for second-place all-time with Matt LaPorta (2005). Tucker is now just one shy of Ryan Shealy’s school record of 80 RBI set in 2002. The 22 multiple-RBI games are the most since LaPorta had 22 in 2005. During his four-game postseason tear this season, Tucker is 7-for-17 (.412) with eight RBI, five runs, two home runs and a double. In his two games against Bethune-Cookman this season, the slugger is 7-for-9 (.778) with six RBI, three runs and two home runs.
· In Jonathan Pigott’s last nine games, the right fielder is 13-for-37 (.351) with 12 RBI, eight runs, three home runs, three stolen bases and two doubles. In his last two games versus the Wildcats, Pigott is 3-for-7 (.429) with two runs. In his last four games at McKethan Stadium, Pigott is batting .471 (8-for-17) with five runs, three RBI, two stolen bases and two doubles.
· In his last eight appearances, Patrick Keating has a 0.64 earned run average over 14.0 innings.
· With his single in the fifth, Josh Adams extended his hitting streak to a career-high nine games. During the stretch, Adams is 14-for-36 (.389) with 10 RBI, eight runs, a home run and a double. In three career games versus the Wildcats, the second baseman is 3-for-9 (.333) with three runs and two RBI. In his last five games at McKethan Stadium, Josh Adams is 14-for-27 (.519) with 14 RBI, eight runs, a home run and one double.
· Over his last 10 games, Brandon McArthur is hitting .419 (13-for-31) with seven RBI and two doubles. In his six-career NCAA Tournament games in Gainesville, McArthur is 7-for-24 (.292) with seven RBI, two runs and a double.
· Avery Barnes has batted .400 (6-for-15) in his past four games, with seven runs, two RBI, two stolen bases and a double. In four games lifetime versus the Wildcats, the left fielder is 5-for-13 (.385) with four runs, three RBI and two stolen bases. In his last four games at McKethan Stadium, Barnes is 8-for-16 (.500) with eight runs, one RBI and a stolen base.
· Over his last 11 appearances, Tony Davis has a sparkling 0.55 earned run average, giving up just one earned run while scattering 12 hits in 16.1 innings pitched. In 6.2 innings pitched versus Bethune-Cookman, the left-handed pitcher has a 1.34 earned run average, allowing just one earned run on four hits.