Tuesday March 9, 2010No. 6 Baseball Takes Opener Over Ilinois State, 8-2
In the first-ever meeting between the schools, No. 6 Florida (8-2) downed Illinois State (4-6), 8-2, on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium. Freshman right-hander Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (2-0) had a career-high five strikeouts and allowed one run over five innings, freshman Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.) was 3-for-4 with three of the Gators’ season-high nine stolen bases and freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) clubbed a three-run shot as UF claimed the opener of a two-game series.
“In Miami, we changed our offensive strategy a little bit, as we wanted to get some guys more in motion,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We’ve been scoring runs, but not consistently throughout nine innings. We’ve been bunching up our runs in very few innings. We got the running game going, I think we had five on Sunday and then stole nine tonight. I think that’s going to help us down the road.”
“I thought Hudson (Randall) was really good tonight. We didn’t walk anyone and didn’t make any errors. When you don’t walk anyone or make any errors, it puts your team in a great position to win.”
The Gators opened the scoring in the first inning on an RBI single by sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-2). Senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (1-for-3, three runs) drew a leadoff walk from freshman Brad Sorkin (0-1) and moved into scoring position with his team-leading fifth stolen base. Tucker extended his hitting streak to nine games with a one-out single into right field to break the ice.
Illinois State evened the contest at 1-1 in the fourth on a groundout by senior Anthony Ruffolo that brought in freshman Chad Hinshaw (2-for-4). Randall had retired the first nine Redbirds of the game, including a run of four strikeouts in a row during the second and into the third. Hinshaw opened the frame with a triple into the left-field corner and Ruffolo followed with a game-tying grounder to first base.
UF re-gained the lead in the home part of the inning on an RBI single into left field by Washington that scored sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) (2-for-4). Thompson had reached on an infield hit with one down, notched his first stolen base of the season and scored on Washington’s second hit of the contest.
“Coach said that we were going to work on our base-stealing tonight and get a lot of big jumps and we were able to do that,” Washington said. “We are just trying to play our game but still work on some things that we need to improve on. Coming off a big series in Miami, its important for us to still come out aggressive and ready to play because playing against a team like Illinois State, they can easily come in and get a win. The older guys motivate us and let us know that we have to come into games with the same mentality as if we were playing Miami or FSU.”
The Gators plated three runs on four hits in the fifth to build a 5-1 advantage. den Dekker raised his hitting streak to 19 games with a leadoff single off redshirt junior reliever Jacob Wielebnicki. Over four full innings, Sorkin gave up five hits and two runs, with three strikeouts and a walk. den Dekker swiped second with one down and Tucker was walked intentionally before Maddox was plunked to load the bases. After junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) flew out to right, Thompson increased the Gators’ lead to three with a two-run single into left field. Washington collected his third hit to fill the sacks again and sophomore Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) brought across Maddox with a single just beyond the reach of redshirt sophomore second baseman Kevin Tokarski. However, Washington was thrown out at second on the play to end the inning.
Randall yielded a leadoff hit to Hinshaw in the sixth and was replaced by sophomore Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.). The southpaw struck out Ruffolo and McMahan gunned down Hinshaw attempting to steal second for a double play. Maronde then fanned Tokarski to close the frame.
Maddox launched a three-run homer with two out in the sixth off freshman Cam Verbeke for an 8-1 count. den Dekker drew a leadoff walk and went to second on a balk. With two down, Tucker was walked for the second time intentionally and a passed ball by redshirt senior catcher Gabe DeMarco advanced both runners into scoring position. Maddox bashed a 2-2 offering from Verbeke to deep right field for his team-leading third dinger.
“Pitchers have started to change their approach against me a little bit,” Maddox said. “I’ve been seeing more fastballs in, because I’ve been hitting the ball away. It was nice to hit one out. The scouting report is getting out, so I’ll have to make adjustments but I saw a curveball, squared up and put a good swing on it.”
Maronde faced five batters over two perfect innings and recorded four strikeouts before senior Chas Spottswood (Key West, Fla.) took over on the mound prior to the eighth and worked the final two innings. Sophomore Jake Thornton (2-for-3) poked a one-out single and junior Josh Colon roped a double into right field before Hinshaw’s ground ball to shortstop drove in Thornton to finalize the 8-2 margin.
The Gators held an 11-7 advantage in hits and did not commit any errors for the fifth time in 10 games. In addition, UF’s pitching staff had nine strikeouts and did not any issue any walks. Sophomore Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) (0-1, 10.38) will start for the Orange and Blue tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.
· Tonight was the first meeting between the Gators and the Redbirds.
· Florida had a season-high nine stolen bases in nine attempts, the most thefts under Kevin O’Sullivan.
· Freshman Austin Maddox made his first career start at first base and raised his hitting streak to seven games with his homer in the sixth.
· Sophomore Preston Tucker’s nine-game hitting streak is one shy of his career best set from April 5-19, 2009.
· Freshman Kamm Washington stole the first two bases of his career during the second inning and had three on the night. It was the first time a UF player had three thefts in a game since Matt den Dekker versus Georgia on April 26, 2008.
· Freshman Nolan Fontana raised his hitting streak to eight games with a third-inning single up the middle.
· Kamm Washington recorded his second three-hit game (USF on 2/21).
· Sophomore Nick Maronde has 13 strikeouts over his last three appearances spanning 6.1 innings.
· Senior Chas Spottswood (2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R) saw his first action of the season.
· Freshman Cody Dent came in as a defensive replacement at second base.