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Tuesday March 16, 2010No. 6 Baseball Upends No. 4 FSU, 8-5

Gainesville, Fla.

No. 6 Florida (13-3) limited No. 4 Florida State (13-3) to one hit over the final seven innings and overcame a pair of three-run deficits en route to an 8-5 victory in front of a season-high 4,773 fans at McKethan Stadium on Tuesday night. Sophomore left-hander Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) (1-0) threw two scoreless and hitless innings to earn the win and junior southpaw Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) kept the Seminoles off the scoreboard over the final three frames to pick up his third save. Sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-3) continued his torrid stretch by driving in four runs, giving him 13 over the past four games.

 

"Hudson (Randall) didn't have his best start, but he put two zeroes up in the third and fourth, and that was huge,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I thought it showed a lot of poise and character. We went to Nick (Maronde) and he did his job, and then Kevin did his job. That's probably the strength of this team is the lefties out of the pen."

“Those two lefties (Maronde and Chapman) are pretty good. They've got good arms and have to locate, but I was really proud of the way they attacked the strike zone and didn't fall behind a whole lot. (Kevin) Chapman has been throwing the ball very well and he did exactly what we needed him to do. He was efficient, put the ball in play early and is looking really good right now.”

 

“This win feels great,” Tucker said. “We wanted to even out the series more than anything. Earlier in the season, I was fouling fastballs off or being late on them. Now, I’m starting to catch up on them.”

 

Florida State junior Mike McGee cranked a three-run homer off freshman Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) in the first inning to open the scoring. Junior Tyler Holt (2-for-5) led off the game with a single into right center and moved to second on a grounder by sophomore James Ramsey. A base-hit by senior Stephen Cardullo left runners on the corners and McGee launched his team-leading fourth homer into the left-field bleachers.

 

The Gators answered in the bottom of the inning with a two-run homer by junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-4, three RBI) over the right-field fence. Senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (3-for-5, two runs) struck out to start the frame but reached first base on a passed ball by junior catcher Parker Brunelle. Adams followed with his third round-tripper of the season. Freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) was hit by a pitch with one down from freshman Robert Benincasa and freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) walked for two runners aboard. A fly ball by junior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) pushed Maddox to third but Benincasa had sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) fly out to left to close the frame.

 

FSU added two more runs on three hits in the second to build a 5-2 lead. Freshmen Justin Gonzalez and Jayce Boyd began the inning with back-to-back singles by before Brunelle’s sacrifice attempt forced Gonzalez at third base for the first out. Holt smashed an RBI double off Smith into left field to score Boyd and Ramsey’s grounder plated Brunelle with the visitors’ fifth run.

 

Tucker connected on his second homer in as many games to narrow the gap to 5-3 in the third. The slugger’s second dinger of the campaign landed in the trees just beyond the visiting bullpen in right center. Maddox walked with one down and Smith drew a two-out free pass to prompt a pitching change. Sophomore Hunter Scantling (0-1) replaced Benincasa (2.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 BB) and had Thompson fly out to right field.

 

Florida tallied three runs on three hits in the fourth to grab a 6-5 advantage. Freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) was hit by a pitch, freshman Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.) (3-for-4, three runs) legged out an infield single and den Dekker lofted Texas Leaguer into shallow center field to load the bases with none out. Adams followed with an RBI single into left field and Tucker was inches from a grand slam but settled for a game-tying sacrifice fly to the wall in right. Maddox put the Gators on top, 6-5, with his team-best third sacrifice fly to right field. Freshman Corben Madden took over for Scantling (1.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R) and issued a walk to Fontana before being replaced by junior Tyler Everett. The righty had Smith ground out to second base to strand the runners.

 

At the outset of the fifth, Maronde took over on the hill for Randall, who allowed six hits and five runs over four innings and retired the final eight Seminoles he faced. A two-out rally in the home part of the inning yielded one run for Florida. After Everett retired the first two batters, the Gators loaded the bases on consecutive singles by Washington and den Dekker and a walk to Adams. Tucker walked on four straight pitches to bring across Washington for a 7-5 Gator lead before Maddox grounded out to end the frame.

 

In the sixth, junior Stuart Tapley drew a leadoff walk and moved into scoring position on a one-out wild pitch by Maronde. After Gonzalez earned a free pass, the lefty fanned Boyd and Brunelle to preserve the two-run lead. Over two scoreless and hitless innings, the lefty recorded three K and issued three walks.

 

Chapman retired the side in the seventh and Washington and den Dekker opened the bottom of the inning with back-to-back singles. After Adams grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, junior Tye Buckley was summoned from the bullpen for Everett (3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R). The left-hander surrendered an RBI single through the right side of the infield on a 3-2 pitch to Tucker that resulted in an 8-5 score.   

 

UF out-hit the Seminoles, 11-7, with the trio of den Dekker, Adams and Tucker a combined 7-for-12 with seven RBI and four runs. Florida returns to action on Friday night with its SEC opener against Western Division rival Mississippi State. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. and the game will be carried live on FOX Sports Florida.   

         

Game Notes

·          Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan improved to 3-0 at home against Florida State.

·          Kevin Chapman has not allowed any runs in 11.2 innings this year in seven appearances.

·          The Gators are now 11-1 at McKethan Stadium this season.

·          Matt den Dekker had his team-leading 10th multiple-hit game of 2010.

·          Kamm Washington matched his career high of three hits for the third time and scored a career-high three runs.

·          Neither the Gators nor Seminoles committed any errors tonight.

·          The teams will meet again in Jacksonville on March 30 and in Tallahassee on April 13.

 

-UF-

 

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