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Thursday February 25, 2010No. 5 Baseball Overpowers Siena, 13-3

Gainesville, Fla.

Redshirt sophomore Tommy Toledo (Tampa, Fla.) (1-0) had a career-high seven strikeouts and senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) had a career-high four hits as No. 5 Florida (5-0) downed Siena (1-4), 13-3, on a frigid Thursday night at McKethan Stadium. Toledo picked up his first victory since March 23, 2008, at Ole Miss by working five innings, in which he gave up three hits and two runs. The right-hander retired the first dozen hitters of the contest and was supported by a Gator offense which tallied a season-high 20 hits. Eight of UF’s nine starters had at least one hit as the Orange and Blue started 5-0 for the third-straight campaign under Kevin O’Sullivan.

 

“Our pitching was good tonight and the defense was outstanding,” O’Sullivan said. “Matt den Dekker had a heck of night again and has been swinging the bat well for us too. It’s good to see him doing that out of the leadoff spot.”

 

“I was working on throwing first-pitch strikes and keeping the ball down,” Toledo said. “The guys on defense had no errors tonight, you can not ask for more than that. There were definitely less jitters tonight, I was more confident and felt a little bit better.”

 

The Gators plated three runs in the third against freshman Robert Tedesco (0-1), courtesy of a sacrifice fly by freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (3-for-3, two RBI) and a two-run triple by sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) (3-for-3). After den Dekker extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games with a one-out single, junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville , Fla.) (2-for-4, two runs) was hit by a pitch and sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-5) stroked a base-hit to load the sacks with one down. Maddox delivered a sacrifice fly into right field to drive in den Dekker and open the scoring and Thompson came through with Florida’s first triple of the year that cleared the bases for a 3-0 lead.    

 

“It was a good team effort tonight and a great win,” den Dekker said. “I am not trying to do too much at the plate and am just trying to get on base for the guys to drive me in. I am just trying to hit line drives and hard ground balls and let them find holes.”

 

UF tacked on four more runs in the fourth to build a 7-0 advantage. Sophomore Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) (3-for-5, two RBI) launched his first homer of the season and the second round-tripper of his career to start the inning. The sophomore bashed a 1-2 pitch into the left-field bleachers for his first dinger since April 8, 2009, against UCF. Sophomore Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) (two runs) drew a one-out walk and moved into scoring position with his first stolen base of the campaign. den Dekker punched an RBI single up the middle for a 5-0 margin, giving him five multiple-hit outings in a row to start the year. Following den Dekker’s first theft of ‘10, Adams cranked his team-leading third double down the left-field line to score his teammate and end the night for Tedesco (3.1 IP, 9 H, 7 R). Maddox delivered a two-out RBI single off sophomore reliever Ryan Poplawski to drive in Adams.    

 

“(Ben) McMahan been swinging the bat well and has been working on his swing awfully hard in practice,” O’Sullivan said. “Yesterday he looked really sharp on his swing so we wanted to get him in there tonight.”

 

Toledo set down the first 12 Siena batters of the game until junior Kevin Quaranto walked to start the fifth and senior Gary DerHagopian (2-for-3, two runs) followed with sharp single into left field. Freshman Larry Balkwill doubled to straightaway center to put the Saints on the board and end Florida’s season-opening stretch of 22.1 innings without a starting pitcher surrendering an earned run. Toledo struck out junior Kyle Hudson to match his career-best of five punch-outs and established a personal best by whiffing the next hitter, freshman Mike Allen. After sophomore Andrew Sawyer delivered a two-out RBI single into center field to pull Siena within 7-2, Toledo stranded both runners by catching senior Anthony Giansanti looking on strikes for his seventh K. 

 

Freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) connected on his first collegiate homer with one down in the bottom of the inning for an 8-2 Gator lead. The ball caromed off the light tower overlooking right field.

 

Freshman Michael Heller (Bradenton, Fla.) replaced Toledo prior to the sixth and made sophomore Dan Paolini his first career strikeout victim. The Gators increased their cushion to 12-2 in the home part of the stanza on four runs and three hits. Maddox led off with a Texas Leaguer into shallow right field and Thompson was hit by a pitch before sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) laced a pinch-hit RBI single up the middle to bring in Maddox. McMahan launched a double off the wall in left center and the duo of Fontana and Weitzel followed with consecutive run-scoring grounders for a 10-run bulge.

 

Senior pinch hitter Al Williams had an RBI grounder off senior Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.) in the seventh that scored DerHagopian for a 12-3 count. den Dekker’s first three-bagger of the year in the eighth enabled Weitzel to come across and finalize the 13-3 margin. Freshman Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) and sophomore Justin Poovey (Granite Falls, N.C.) each tossed a scoreless inning to complete the contest.  

 

The Gators will face La Salle (0-3) in a pair of nine-inning games on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. Sophomore Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (2-0, 2.45) and freshman Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (1-0, 0.00) will take the mound for Florida during the doubleheader. 

         

Game Notes

·          The Gators improved to a perfect 12-0 against Siena.

·          The top four hitters in Florida’s lineup were a combined 11-for-18 (.611) with six runs and five RBI.

·          Tommy Toledo retired the Saints on eight pitches to begin the game, then struck out the side in the second inning.

·          Austin Maddox (catcher) and Jerico Weitzel (third base) each made his first start of the season in the field.

·          Making his first start of the year at designated hitter, Ben McMahan collected his first hit of the season with a second-inning single and finished a career-best 3-for-5 with two RBI and a pair of runs.

·          Tyler Thompson notched his second career triple in the third and had a season-high three hits.

·          The Gators’ 20 hits were their most this year, exceeding the 12 against UCF on Feb. 24.

·          Cody Dent made his collegiate debut as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning and popped up.

·          UF totaled 20 hits for the first time since the 2009 NCAA Gainesville Regional against Miami (Fla.), when they had 22 in a 16-5 victory over the Hurricanes.

 

-UF-

 

 

 

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