Monday June 1, 2009No. 10 Baseball Downs UM, 16-5, To Take Regional
Top-seeded Florida (42-20) used a 22-hit offensive barrage to overpower second-seeded Miami (Fla.) (38-22), 16-5, and claim the NCAA Gainesville Regional on Sunday night at McKethan Stadium. With the victory, the Gators advance to next weekend’s Super Regional for the first time since 2005 and the third time in the past six years. UF will host the winner of the Atlanta Regional, which will be determined on Monday night when Georgia Tech (38-18-1) faces Southern Miss (37-24) at 7 p.m. Start times and dates for next weekend’s eight best-of-three series around the country will be announced by the NCAA late Monday night.
“The whole goal going into the weekend was to win this one and earn another weekend to play,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We came out tonight with a really good approach at the plate. We didn’t chase anything out of the zone. When you get an early lead like we did, it makes it awful easy on your pitching staff. The relief pitching once again was outstanding.”
Freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) was named the Regional’s Most Outstanding Player after going 9-for-13 (.692) over the three games with six RBI, two homers and a slugging percentage of 1.231. The rookie was 4-for-5 in the triumph over the Hurricanes tonight and notched three more RBI to give him 83 on the campaign, a single-season Florida record. The SEC’s Co-Freshman of the Year is hitting .357 and belted his team-leading 14th homer with a two-run jack as part of a seven-run, fifth-inning explosion.
“Winning this award is really just a tribute to everyone on this team swinging the bat,” Tucker said. “When we have players on base, it puts more pressure on the pitcher than on me. Everyone swung really well today and just gave our pitchers the confidence to throw strikes.”
Playing as the visiting team, the Gators shot out of the gates with five runs on five hits off sophomore Iden Nazario (6-5) in the top of the first inning. Senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) (three runs, two walks) drew a leadoff walk and junior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach , Fla.) (3-for-6, three runs, two RBI) followed with his fifth double of the season. Tucker opened the scoring with a flare into center field to bring in Barnes, giving the Gators runners on the corners. The slugger’s team-leading 81st RBI established a single-season record at Florida, passing Ryan Shealy’s total of 80 set in 2002. Sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-3, two RBI, two runs) earned a free pass to load the bases with none out and junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (2-for-4, three RBI) lofted a sacrifice fly to center field to plate Pigott with the second run. Senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) (3-for-5) poked a single into right center to increase UF’s lead to 3-0 and senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-4, two RBI) ripped a double down the left-field line to chase Nazario (0.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R). Junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) (2-for-5, two runs) greeted senior Jason Santana with an RBI grounder to bring home McArthur with the fifth run.
Miami countered with a run in the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Yasmani Grandal off freshman Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) to close the gap to 5-1. Junior Scott Lawson (3-for-5) started things with his 21st double and moved to third on a flyout to center by junior Ryan Jackson (2-for-5). Junior Jason Hagerty walked for two runners aboard and Grandal put the Hurricanes on the board with a sacrifice fly into foul territory in right field when Lawson scored. After junior Chris Herrmann (2-for-4) struck out to end the inning, UM head coach Jim Morris was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire David Wiley.
den Dekker came through with a two-out RBI single in the second for a 6-1 Gator advantage. Barnes walked, stole second with two down and took third when Grandal’s relay throw went high. Adams earned a base on balls and den Dekker collected his second RBI of the game with a base-knock into center.
The Gators expanded the margin to 7-1 in the third on a chopper by junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) (3-for-5, two runs). Munroe lashed a double to left field with one down and occupied third on a wild pitch by Santana. With the Hurricanes’ infield playing in, Mooney sent a bouncing ball that eluded a leap by Lawson at second base.
Freshman Sam Robinson replaced Santana (3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R) with one out in the fourth and surrendered a single through the right side of the infield by Tucker. Although Adams boosted his hitting streak to 11 games with a base-hit up the middle for runners on the corners, den Dekker grounded into a 1-6-3 double play to end the frame.
Florida sent 12 batters to the plate and erupted for seven more runs on nine hits in the fifth, highlighted by back-to-back homers by Tucker and Adams, to build a 14-1 lead. McArthur opened the stanza with a single and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Foster. Munroe collected his second hit of the game to give UF a pair of runners aboard and a fielder’s choice by Mooney cut down McArthur at the plate on a throw from freshman third baseman Harold Martinez to Grandal. Barnes stroked an RBI single up the middle to drive Munroe and alertly moved to second on the play. With two runners in scoring position, Pigott cleared the bases with a two-run single to balloon the margin to 10-1. Tucker bashed Robinson’s next offering over the fence in left center for his team-leading 14th round-tripper for a 12-1 bulge. Junior John Housey came in for Robinson (1.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R) and Adams welcomed the reliever with a solo shot to right field for his eighth big fly. den Dekker and McArthur kept the hit parade going with consecutive singles and Foster drove in McArthur with his second hit of the night.
In the bottom of the inning, the Hurricanes countered with four runs of their own on five hits to close to within 14-5. Freshman Nathan Melendres and Lawson opened with back-to-back singles and Hagerty delivered a three-run homer to left center, his 14th of the year. A two-out double by Herrmann ended the night for Panteliodis, who matched his career high of six strikeouts and allowed eight hits and five runs over 4.2 innings. Senior Dave DiNatale had an infield RBI single off senior Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) (4-3) to score Herrmann.
The Gators added two runs in the sixth on a bases-loaded walk to Adams and den Dekker’s second sacrifice fly of the game for a 16-5 edge. Mooney led off with his third hit and Pigott singled again before UM went to the bullpen to have freshman Daniel Miranda take over for Housey (0.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R). Tucker was plunked to fill the sacks and Adams equaled a personal best with his third walk to score Mooney. A fly out to left by den Dekker enabled Pigott to score the game’s final run.
All nine Florida starters contributed at least one hit, while eight of them had multi-hit efforts. The Gators were an eye-popping 22-for-43 (.517) in the game and registered five extra-base hits. After Keating, the trio of freshman Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.), junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) and junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) each threw a scoreless frame. Joining Tucker on the All-Tournament team from the Gators were Adams (second base), den Dekker (outfield), senior Stephen Locke (Tampa, Fla.), McArthur (third base), Mooney (shortstop), Pigott (outfield).
· Florida has now won seven NCAA Regional tournaments, including its first since 2005. The Gators have won five of its last six when hosting the NCAA Regional tournament. The other four Florida squads to win the NCAA Regional in Gainesville all went on to reach the College World Series (1991, 1996, 1998, 2005).
· The Gators have now reached their third NCAA Super Regional in the last six years, and their first since hosting in 2005.
· For the first time in 11 tries, Florida has won an NCAA Regional with Miami being a part of the same regional.
· Florida improves their record to 25-7 (.781) on its own turf during NCAA play, and expand upon their now eight-game winning streak at home in postseason play.
· The Orange and Blue have swept through three of its last four NCAA Regional appearances (2004, 2005, 2009).
· Florida’s 16 runs scored against Miami are the most against the Hurricanes since a 20-11 victory on February 13, 2000.
· The 22 hits by the Gators were the most under Kevin O’Sullivan and tie the school record for hits in a NCAA Tournament game (22 versus FAU on May 31, 2003, as part of the 2003 NCAA Coral Gables Regional). The 22 hits were the most by any Gator team since the 2007 squad put up 22 against George Washington on March 3, 2007.
· The 11-run victory was the largest margin of victory for the Gators in an NCAA Tournament game since a 23-3 triumph over Notre Dame on June 5, 2005, as part of the 2005 NCAA Gainesville Regional. It was the largest victory ever against Miami in the NCAA Tournament.
· This weekend’s back-to-back victories over the Hurricanes marked the first time in school history Florida has defeated Miami twice in a row in the postseason. It’s the first time since Florida defeated Miami, 7-2, and 7-5, on February 16 and 17, 2007, that the Gators defeated Miami in consecutive games.
· With his three RBI tonight, Preston Tucker broke Ryan Shealy’s 2002 mark of 80 RBI for most RBI in a single season in school history. The first baseman now has 83 RBI for the season. As Most Outstanding Player of the 2009 NCAA Gainesville Regional, Tucker hit .692 (9-for-13) with six RBI, four runs and two home runs. During his six-game postseason tear this season, Tucker is 13-for-25 (.520) with 12 RBI, seven runs, three home runs and two doubles. The 23 multiple-RBI games are the most by a Gator player this decade, passing Matt LaPorta’s record of 22 in 2005.
· In his five games against Miami this season, Brandon McArthur is 8-for-19 (.421), with five RBI, three runs and two doubles. Over his last 12 games, Brandon McArthur is hitting .436 (17-for-39) with nine RBI and four doubles. In his eight-career NCAA Tournament games in Gainesville, McArthur is 11-for-32 (.344) with nine RBI, four runs and three doubles. McArthur has an RBI in seven of his eight-career NCAA Regional games at McKethan Stadium. With his 208th game started, the third baseman moved into sole possession for fifth-place all-time in games started at the University of Florida. McArthur moved a tie with Matt LaPorta (2004-07) for ninth place all-time in games played at the University of Florida with 215.
· Avery Barnes has batted .349 (8-for-23) in his 2009 postseason campaign, with 11 runs, four RBI, four stolen bases and a double. In his last six games at McKethan Stadium, Barnes is 10-for-24 (.417) with 12 runs, three RBI and three stolen bases.
· In his last eight appearances, Patrick Keating has a 0.59 earned run average over 15.1 innings.
· In his last 11 games, the Jonathan Pigott 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 fourth, Josh Adams extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games. During the stretch, Adams is 17-for-42 (.405) with 12 RBI, 11 runs, two home runs and two doubles. In his last seven games at McKethan Stadium, Josh Adams is 17-for-33 (.515) with 16 RBI, 11 runs, two home runs and two doubles.
· Over the stretch of his five-career NCAA Regional games, Matt den Dekker is batting .333 (7-for-21) with six RBI, five runs, one double and a stolen base.
· Teddy Foster batted .444 (4-for-9) this NCAA Regional with three RBI and a double.
· Every Gator in the starting lineup recorded two or more hits with the exception of Avery Barnes.
· The Gators have scored five runs or more in an inning in 20 of its 61 games this season. It was only the second time all season Florida has scored five in the first, the last being April 14, 2009, in Tallahassee versus Florida State in a 10-2 victory. It was the first time since February 17, 2007, where the Gators scored five runs in an inning versus the Hurricanes.
· Florida had back-to-back home runs today for the third time this season, the first time since Mike Mooney and Avery Barnes accomplished the feat versus Georgia on May 1, 2009.
· The Gators recorded seven-straight hits for in the fifth inning, all of them coming with two outs.
· In 5.1 innings against Miami this season, closer Billy Bullock has a perfect ERA, giving up just two hits.
· Mike Mooney finished his first NCAA Regional with a .333 (4-for-12) batting average, racking up three RBI and three runs.
· Over his last 12 appearances, Tony Davis has a sparkling 0.52 earned run average, giving up just one earned run while scattering 13 hits in 17.1 innings pitched. In his six-career appearances against Miami, the southpaw has a 1.80 earned run average.
· The Gators improve to 30-2 when leading after six, 32-5 when scoring six or more runs and 30-3 when out-hitting the opponent.