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Wednesday February 24, 2010No. 5 Baseball Edges UCF, 7-6

Gainesville, Fla.

Freshman Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (1-0) threw five scoreless innings in his first collegiate start as No. 5 Florida (4-0) registered a 7-6 victory over UCF (3-1) on Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium. Junior Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) kept the Knights off the board for 1.2 innings to earn his first career save in a game that was delayed for 26 minutes at the outset due to steady rain in the area. Gator starting pitchers have not allowed an earned run in 18.1 innings this season.

 

“We’ve been saying the whole preseason that the young guys are pushing the older guys,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “(Hudson) Randall threw the ball really well. He’s got a knack for throwing strikes and for his first start I thought he did outstanding.”

 

“My focus was to try and throw strikes,” Randall said. “I was not trying just for strikeouts but pitching to get contact that would lead to ground balls and pop flies. It was aggravating with the rain but wasn't too bad since the ball wasn't getting really slippery. My goal was to get ahead in the count and I believe the chart said that I was 12 for 18 on first-pitch strikes but I’m not sure.”

 

The Gators opened the scoring with three runs on three hits in the second inning against UCF freshman Brian Adkins (0-1). Junior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) (2-for-2, two runs, two walks) started the frame with his first double at Florida and sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) followed with a walk. Senior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) advanced his teammates into scoring position by executing the Gators’ first sacrifice bunt of the year and freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) brought home Smith with a grounder to second base. Freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (2-for-3, two runs), who delivered the game-winning hit in the 10th inning to defeat USF on Sunday, delivered a two-out single up the middle to bring across Pigott. Zunino moved into scoring position with his first career stolen base and senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (2-for-5) gave the hosts a 3-0 lead with his second hit of the game. den Dekker had matched his career-high hitting streak of 13 games with a first-inning single.

 

Helped by a two-out error, Florida tacked on another run in the third for a 4-0 margin. Smith singled with two down and Daniel Pigott smoked a two-bagger down the right-field line for a pair of Gators aboard. Jonathan Pigott’s grounder to third was misplayed by junior Michael Holmes, allowing Smith to score. 

 

Randall pitched brilliantly over five innings, throwing 53 of his 71 pitches for strikes. Freshman Ronnie Richardson (3-for-4, 2 RBI) greeted sophomore Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) with a single to start the sixth and went to third on a two-out single through the right side by sophomore Beau Taylor (2-for-5). Maronde stranded the runners with a strikeout of junior Jonathan Griffin (2-for-5) to end the inning.

 

Adkins allowed six hits and four runs (three earned) over four innings before being replaced by redshirt senior Matt Manning. The reliever kept UF in check during the fifth but Fontana and Zunino began the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back singles. den Dekker moved his teammates over with a ground ball and junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) doubled into right center to boost the Gators’ lead to 6-0 and prompt another pitching change. Sophomore Bryan Brown replaced Manning (1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R) and surrendered a two-out double into left field by freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) for a 7-0 margin.

 

UCF countered with five hits and three runs in the seventh. Senior Chris Duffy (3-for-5, two runs, two RBI) and freshman Austin Johnston (2-for-4) began the inning with consecutive singles for runners on the corners. Maronde retired freshman Chris Taladay on a grounder and struck out Holmes before Richardson legged out an infield hit to put the Knights on the board. Freshman Darnell Sweeney and senior Shane Brown followed with RBI singles to narrow the gap to 7-3.

 

The visitors continued to mount a comeback with three more runs on four hits in the eighth. Sophomore Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) took over for Maronde (2.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R) and yielded a leadoff single to Griffin. Duffy then cranked his team-leading third homer of the season to straightaway center field to put UCF behind by a 7-5 score. After a one-out single by Taladay, Chapman was summoned from the bullpen for Larson (0.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R). A sacrifice bunt by freshman pinch hitter Anthony Caronia advanced Taladay and Richardson poked a double into the right-field corner that resulted in a 7-6 score. A bobble on the play by freshman Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.) enabled Richardson to occupy third and Chapman had Sweeney fly out to center to preserve the Gators’ tenuous lead.  

 

In the home part of the frame, Adams and sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) poked one-out singles to end the night for Brown (2.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R). Junior Chase Bradford had Maddox tap back to the hill for the second out and sophomore Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) fly out.  

 

Chapman retired the first two UCF hitters in the ninth before Griffin sliced a single into center field. The left-hander closed the game by catching Duffy looking on strikes to nail down Randall’s first win. The Knights held a 15-12 advantage in hits.

 

Florida will host Siena (1-3) tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. In a matchup of right-handers, redshirt sophomore Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) (0-0, 0.00) will oppose Saints’ freshman Robert Tedesco (0-0, 4.76). The teams last met to kick off the 2008 campaign and the Gators posted a three-game sweep.     

         

Game Notes

·          The Gators have now claimed their last three meetings against UCF.

·          Matt den Dekker increased his hitting streak to 13 games for the third time in his career and picked up his fourth straight multiple-hit game.

·          den Dekker and Josh Adams were a combined 4-for-10 with three RBI at the top of the lineup.

·          Bryson Smith (2-for-2) notched his first multiple-hit outing at Florida.

·          Kevin Chapman’s 1.2-inning stint was his longest since working two innings in a start against USF on April 22, 2009.

·          The Gators had a season-high four doubles.

·          Chris Duffy’s eighth-inning homer was the first long ball given up by Florida this year.

 

-UF-

 

 

 

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