Monday March 15, 2010No. 6 Baseball Defeats Army, 9-3
Sophomore Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) (2-1) hurled a season-high 5.2 innings to earn his second-straight victory as No. 6 Florida (12-3) downed Army (5-4), 9-3, on Monday at McKethan Stadium. Sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) drove in three runs, highlighted by his first homer of the year, and freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) was 2-for-5 and collected two RBI for the Gators. Senior Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.) allowed one run over the final 3.1 innings to notch his second save.
“We haven’t had back-to-back losses this season and it is nice to get back in the win column,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We took the lead early and I think scoring in the first inning did a lot for our confidence and got us back going again offensively.”
Senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) opened the scoring for Florida with a leadoff homer in the first inning off junior Kirk Porter (0-2). His second homer of the season cleared the wall in right center was the first by a Gator to start a game since Avery Barnes went deep against South Carolina on April 25, 2009.
Junior Ben Koenigsfeld (2-for-4, two RBI) evened the score for the Black Knights in the second with a two-out solo homer off DeSclafani.
The Gators regained the lead in the bottom of the frame on a bases-loaded grounder by freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.). Junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) and freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (1-for-3, two runs) opened the inning with consecutive walks before junior Bryson Smith’s (Watkinsville, Ga.) sacrifice attempt resulted in Adams being thrown out at third base. Freshman Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.) walked to fill the bases and Zunino delivered an RBI grounder to score Fontana.
Army tied the game at 2-2 on an RBI single in the fourth by Koenigsfeld. Junior Joey Henshaw began the frame with his fourth double and went to third on a grounder by junior Kevin McKague. Koenigsfeld’s infield hit to the hole between shortstop and third base knotted up the contest.
The Gators plated three runs on three hits in the fifth to take a 5-2 lead. Zunino roped a one-out double into no man’s land with one down and den Dekker followed with a walk. Sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) lofted a double into left center to drive in Zunino and put the Gators on top and Maddox sliced a two-out, two-run single into right field for a three-run advantage.
Junior Clint Moore opened the sixth with a base-hit into left center and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. A ground ball by Henshaw advanced Moore and DeSclafani induced a foul pop out by McKague before being replaced by Barfield. Over 5.2 innings of work, DeSclafani allowed six hits and two runs with three strikeouts.
On getting ahead early in the count, O’Sullivan said, “It certainly makes a difference. It makes a difference with their ERA’s, defensively and as to whether we win or lose. We continue to preach getting ahead in the count, throwing strikes and staying ahead and I thought (DeSclafani) did a nice job of that tonight.”
UF tacked on another run in the home part of the inning on a single up the middle by Smith for a 6-2 count. Sophomore Logan Lee replaced Porter (5.0 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 BB) prior to the start of the frame and was greeted by Fontana’s first career double down the right-field line. Fontana took third on the play courtesy of a throwing error by junior right fielder Shaun Wixted and scored on Smith’s RBI single up the middle.
Army closed within 6-3 in the seventh on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Wixted. Junior Brandon Hines led off with a single but was forced at second base on a fielder’s choice by freshman Clayton Mosley. After sophomore J.T. Watkins (3-for-3) punched a base-hit into center field, sophomore Zach Price battled back from a 0-2 count with a walk to fill the sacks. Wixted lofted a sacrifice fly to deep center field to score Mosley and Barfield retired Moore on a fly out to end the inning.
Tucker launched his first homer of the season with Daniel Pigott aboard in the seventh for an 8-3 lead for the hosts. Pigott had doubled for the second time in the game and Tucker cranked a two-run jack over the 365-foot mark in left center for his first big fly since June 7, 2009, against Southern Miss.
“We played really well tonight,” Tucker said. “Our team was fundamentally sound tonight against a good competitive team. If I don’t hit a home run tonight, it’s not the end of the world because there are a lot of guys behind me that can hit.”
Sophomore Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) delivered a pinch-hit single to open the eighth for Florida and went to second on a balk. After issuing a one-out walk to den Dekker, Lee (2.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R) was replaced by freshman Ken Jackson, who walked freshman pinch hitter Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) to load the bases. Tucker drove in McMahan with a grounder to finalize the scoring.
The Gators return to action tomorrow night against No. 5 Florida State (13-2) at McKethan Stadium. In a meeting of freshmen right-handers, Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (2-0, 2.51) will oppose Seminole Robert Benincasa (1-0, 1.64). The game will begin at 6:30 p.m. and air live on FOX Sports Florida in North/Central Florida. It will also be shown on DirecTV Channel 655 and DISH Network Channel 447. The Seminoles claimed the first of the four regular-season meetings with the squads, 10-5, at the inaugural Florida Four Tourney in Tampa on March 2.
· It was the first meeting between the Gators and Black Knights since March 14, 2007 (5-3 UF win), and Florida has now taken five of the six encounters.
· UF improved to 10-1 at home this spring.
· The Gators did not commit any errors for the eighth time in 15 games.
· Florida’s streak of 23-consecutive stolen bases dating back to March 5 at Miami (Fla.) ended in the first inning when Daniel Pigott was thrown out trying to swipe second base.
· Mike Zunino threw out his fourth runner of the year attempting to steal in the second inning.
· Anthony DeSclafani’s 5.2 innings was his longest stint since going 5.2 against Ole Miss at the SEC Tournament on May 21, 2009.