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Saturday May 30, 2009No. 10 Baseball Defeats No. 17 Miami, 8-2

Gainesville, Fla.

Behind 7.1 strong innings from senior left-hander Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.) and a four-run third inning, top-seeded Florida (41-20) downed second-seeded Miami (Fla.) (37-21), 8-2, in a winner’s bracket game at the NCAA Gainesville Regional on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium. Locke (5-2) held the Hurricanes to six singles and two runs (zero earned), with three strikeouts and a walk. The southpaw was supported by a balanced offense that totaled 10 hits, three doubles and a solo homer by junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.), who was 2-for-5 and scored twice.

 

The Hurricanes will meet third-seeded Jacksonville (37-21) in an elimination game tomorrow at 1 p.m., with the survivor needing to defeat the Gators twice to advance to next weekend’s NCAA Super Regional. Florida will face tomorrow afternoon’s winner at 6:30 p.m., live on Sun Sports.  

 

“It all started on the mound with Stephen (Locke),” said UF head coach Kevin O’Sullivan. “He did a heck of a job, giving up just two runs in the third, and our offense responded really well. The third inning was big for us. It gave us the momentum and we added a couple more runs in the sixth, one more in the seventh and one in the eighth. That’s what you have to do to good teams. You can’t sit on them, you’ve got to keep tacking on runs and make it that much more difficult for them to come back and tie it.”

The Hurricanes drew first blood against Locke with a pair of unearned runs in the third inning. Freshman Ted Blackman was hit by a pitch to start things off and a fielding error by freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) on freshman Nathan Melendres’ sacrifice bunt gave the Hurricanes two runners aboard. Junior Scott Lawson sacrificed both runners into scoring position and junior Ryan Jackson lofted a sacrifice fly to straightaway center field to plate Blackman with the game’s opening run and advance Melendres to third. Junior Jason Hagerty followed with an infield hit to bring across the second run.  

 

Florida answered with four runs on three hits off sophomore Chris Hernandez (7-5) in the bottom of the inning to seize a 4-2 advantage. Senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) and junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) drew consecutive walks and senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) laid down a bunt that Hernandez fielded and tried to throw Foster out at third base. However, the runner was safe and the Gators had the bases full with none out. Jonathan Pigott delivered a single through the left side of the infield to cut the deficit in half and freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-3) roped a base-hit into right to even the game. The RBI was the rookie’s 80th of the season, matching Ryan Shealy’s Gator single-season mark set in 2002. Although sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, Barnes scored to give UF a 3-2 lead. Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) then dragged a bunt single to drive in Pigott with the fourth run of the frame. den Dekker moved into scoring position with his team-leading 16th stolen base and raced over to third on a throwing error by sophomore catcher Yasmani Grandal before senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) (2-for-4) flew out to right field. 

 

Miami threatened in the sixth, as Grandal and junior Chris Herrmann (2-for-4) had back-to-back one-out singles. However, Locke buckled down to have freshman Harold Martinez ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

 

UF increased its lead to 6-2 in the home part of the sixth, highlighted by run-scoring hits by McArthur and Foster. Adams raised his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games with a double to start the inning, his 10th two-bagger of the season. den Dekker advanced his teammate with a grounder to first base and McArthur came through with his team-leading 13th double to plate Adams. Freshman Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) was hit by a pitch and Foster launched a single off the wall in right field to bring in McArthur and prompt a pitching change. Freshman Daniel Miranda replaced Hernandez (5.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R) with runners on the corners and threw Pigott out at home plate on a fielder’s choice by Mooney for the second out. The reliever had Barnes ground out to strand the two runners.  

 

Jonathan Pigott opened the bottom of the seventh with his sixth homer of the season to left center to put the Gators up by five runs. The junior now has four round-trippers in the postseason, three at the SEC Tournament and one in Regionals. Tucker bashed a double off the right-field fence to cause another pitching move, as senior Rene Guerra came in for Miranda (0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R). Although Adams laid down a sac bunt to push Tucker to third, Guerra retired den Dekker and McArthur on strikeouts to hold the deficit at 7-2 for Miami.  

 

A single by Jackson and a walk to Hagerty with one out in the eighth ended the night for Locke, who notched his first career NCAA victory. Freshman Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) whiffed Grandal and Herrmann to prevent any UM rally.

 

Freshman pinch hitter Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) was plunked to start Florida’s eighth and went to second on a bunt by Foster. A grounder by Mooney moved his teammate to third and Barnes legged out an infield hit to score Thompson with the eighth run to finalize the 8-2 margin.

 

Junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) set down the Hurricanes in order in the ninth and registered consecutive strikeouts to close the contest. UF held a 10-6 advantage in hits and defeated Miami for the first time in four meetings this season.

 

Florida Notes

·         Florida has won its first two NCAA Regional games for the fifth time in school history (1991, 1996, 2004, 2005, 2009). Three of the last four Florida squads to accomplish the feat have reached the College World Series (1991, 1996, 2005).

·         The Gators improves their record to 24-7 (.774) on its own turf during NCAA play, and expand upon their now seven-game winning streak at home in postseason play.

·         Tonight’s win marked the first victory for the Gators over the Hurricanes since a 6-2 triumph on March 2, 2008, and the first time in postseason baseball since a 15-5 victory on June 1, 2003, as part of the 2003 NCAA Regional in Coral Gables.

·         Florida improves to 5-0 this season in games after walk-off wins.

·         The eight runs scored against the Hurricanes are the most put up against Miami since putting up 11 in an 11-10 victory in Coral Gables on February 19, 2006.

·         Out of UF’s 41 victories, 27 have been from the come-from-behind variety.

·         With his RBI single in the third, Preston Tucker tied Ryan Shealy’s 2002 mark of 80 RBI for most RBI in a single season in school history. During his five-game postseason tear this season, Tucker is 9-for-20 (.450) with nine RBI, five runs, two home runs and two doubles.

·         In his 11 starts at McKethan Stadium since the start of the 2008 season, Stephen Locke is 8-0 with a 2.25 ERA, allowing just 17 earned runs in 68.0 innings pitched.

·         Tonight marked the first time since a 3-1 defeat in the 2004 Coral Gables Super Regional on June 13, 2004, that Florida faced Miami in the NCAA Tournament, and the first since Miami defeated Florida, 8-7, on June 2, 2002, that the two schools met in Gainesville in the postseason.

·         In his four games against Miami this season, Brandon McArthur is 6-for-15 (.400), with four RBI, two runs and a double. Over his last 11 games, Brandon McArthur is hitting .429 (15-for-35) with eight RBI and three doubles. In his seven-career NCAA Tournament games in Gainesville, McArthur is 9-for-28 (.321) with eight RBI, three runs and two doubles. McArthur has an RBI in six of the seven-career NCAA Regional games at McKethan Stadium. With his 207th game started, the third baseman moved into a tie with Jeff Corsaletti (2002-05) for fifth-place all-time in games started at the University of Florida.

·         Avery Barnes has batted .368 (7-for-19) in his past five games, with eight runs, three RBI, three stolen bases and a double. In his last five games at McKethan Stadium, Barnes is 9-for-20 (.450) with nine runs, two RBI and two stolen bases.

·         Prior to hitting four home runs in this year’s postseason, Pigott had hit two total in both the 2007 and 2008 seasons, and had hit just two this year in 90 at bats (four in 22 this postseason) heading into postseason action. In his last 10 games, the right fielder is 15-for-42 (.357) with 14 RBI, 10 runs, four home runs, three stolen bases and two doubles. In his last five games at McKethan Stadium, Pigott is batting .455 (10-for-22) with seven runs, five RBI, two stolen bases and two doubles.

·         With his single in the fifth, Josh Adams extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games. During the stretch, Adams is 15-for-39 (.385) with 10 RBI, nine runs, a home run and two doubles. In his last six games at McKethan Stadium, Josh Adams is 15-for-30 (.500) with 14 RBI, nine runs, a home run and two doubles.

·         In 4.1 innings against Miami this season, closer Billy Bullock has a 0.00 ERA, giving up just one hit.

·         Over the stretch of his four NCAA Regional games, Matt den Dekker is batting .294 (5-for-17) with four runs, three RBI, one double and a stolen base.

·         In this year’s NCAA Regional, Teddy Foster is 2-for-5 (.500) with three RBI.

·         The Gators improve to 29-2 when leading after six, 31-5 when scoring six or more runs and 29-3 when out-hitting the opponent.

 

-UF-

 

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