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Wednesday March 24, 2010No. 2 Baseball Comes Back To Defeat FGCU, 13-8

Gainesville, Fla.

Trailing 8-0 in the second inning, No. 2 Florida (17-3) reeled off 13 unanswered runs to post a 13-8 victory over Florida Gulf Coast (12-7) on Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium for its season-best sixth-consecutive win. The Gators used a three-run homer with two out in the fourth by senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (2-for-3, four RBI) to seize the lead and UF’s bullpen closed the contest with seven shutout innings. Freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) went 3-for-5 with three runs and two RBI, while Josh Adams (Jacksonville , Fla.) (2-for-5, three RBI) cranked a two-run homer as part of a five-run fourth.

 

“The attitude we’re trying to create in the dugout is, no matter what the score is, we have a chance to come back,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “You just have to chip away. We got one in the second and three in the third and then left the bases loaded twice. We could have really gotten back in the game early with a big hit in one of those innings, but just chipping away in those middle innings was huge for us.”

 

“We just kept preaching quality at-bats,” the third-year coach continued. “We just had to persevere through their early lead. This was one of those games where we gave up a lot of runs, but wins come in different ways.”

 

FGCU exploded for eight runs on five hits in the second inning, chasing sophomore starter Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.). Junior Zach Maxfield started things with a leadoff double and junior Austin Gaines (2-for-5) followed with a single for runners on the corners. Freshman Mike Reeves delivered an RBI single into right field to score Maxfield and DeSclafani threw away a sacrifice attempt by redshirt freshman Kurtis Mullaney, allowing Gaines to come across and leaving two men in scoring position with none out. After a sacrifice fly by senior Josh Chester (2-for-3) brought home Reeves, junior Luke Smierciak roped an RBI double for a 4-0 lead. A two-run homer into the left-field bleachers by junior Stephen Wickens (3-for-5) increased the Eagles’ margin to six runs and junior Mikel Alvarez was hit by a pitch, ending the night for DeSclafani (1.1 IP, 5 H, 7 R). Junior Tim Roberson (2-for-5) greeted sophomore Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) with his fourth homer of the season for an eight-run advantage.  

 

The Gators got on the board in the bottom of the inning thanks to four-straight walks by junior Patrick Nathanson (2.0 IP, 1 R, 0 H, 6 BB) but left the bases loaded. Sophomore Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) (2-for-4, two runs) earned a free pass with one down and freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) and den Dekker each walked with two out to fill the bases. Sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (two RBI) walked on four pitches for an 8-1 deficit before sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) flew out to center field.  

 

UF tallied three runs on three hits in the third to pull within 8-4 but again left the sacks full. Freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-5, two runs) led off with a base-hit to center off sophomore Jason Forjet, went to second on a wild pitch and took third on a passed ball. Fontana rifled a double to left to plate Maddox and McMahan stroked a base-hit into left for runners on the corners. Senior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) walked to load the bases and Forjet had an infield fly by Zunino result in the second out. However, the righty plunked both den Dekker and Daniel Pigott to narrow the gap to 8-4. Freshman R.J. Brown was summoned from the bullpen to replace Forjet (0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R) and had Tucker ground out.

 

Senior Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.) made his season debut at the start of the fourth, taking over for Larson (1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R). The righty allowed one hit over two scoreless innings to pick up his first win since March 27 of last season against Alabama.   

 

“I think Clint did a really nice job,” O’Sullivan said. “That was the key part of the game because we had gotten the lead in the fourth inning after battling back to make it 9-8 and we needed to put a couple zeroes on the board to keep them from scoring any rebound runs and keep the momentum on our side. I thought Clint did an outstanding job.”

 

Florida used the long ball in the fourth inning to seize a 9-8 lead, as Adams belted a two-run homer and den Dekker connected on a three-run jack with two down to give the hosts the lead. Maddox began the inning with his team-leading seventh double and Adams followed with his fourth dinger of the campaign to narrow the gap to 8-6. Soon after, Fontana singled through the right side and Jonathan Pigott delivered a one-out single on a hit-and-run to prompt another pitching change. Sophomore Jacob Barnes (0-1) came in for Brown (0.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R) and struck out freshman pinch hitter Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.). den Dekker stepped to the plate and bashed a 3-2 pitch over the fence in left field for his third homer to put UF on top.  

 

“You have to stay positive,” den Dekker said. “We kept battling and having good at bats and before you know it we were back and in the lead. Everyone was working hard and to break through finally and get the lead is great, especially getting behind and battling and playing small ball. I got a good pitch to hit, a fastball, and tried to put a good swing on it.”

 

Fontana and McMahan came through with back-to-back two-out RBI singles in the fifth off Barnes to give the Gators an 11-8 lead. Tucker drew a leadoff walk, went to second on a grounder by Maddox and advanced to third on a deep fly out by Adams. Fontana sliced a base-hit into right field to bring home Tucker and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. McMahan punched a single up the middle to drive in Fontana and end the night for Barnes (1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R). McMahan notched his first stolen base before sophomore C.J. Evans fanned Jonathan Pigott.  

 

The Gators tacked on two more runs in the sixth to build a 13-9 lead. Washington led off with a walk and sophomore pinch hitter Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) was hit by a pitch with one down before Tucker extended his hitting streak to nine games with an RBI single up the middle. Maddox walked to fill the bases and Adams legged out an infield hit to score Tucker. Evans prevented further damage by having Fontana ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.  

 

After sophomore Justin Poovey (Granite Falls, N.C.) (1.0 IP, 3 H) gave up a leadoff single to Gaines in the seventh, he was replaced by freshman Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.). The left-hander struck out Reeves and induced an inning-ending double play grounder from Mullaney. Rodriguez fired two scoreless innings with 2 K before sophomore Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) retired the Eagles in order to close the game. Florida held a 13-12 advantage in hits and drew a season-high 10 walks.

 

The Gators return to SEC action on Friday with the opener of a three-game series at No. 17 Ole Miss. In a meeting of left-handers, sophomore Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (5-0, 1.52) will face Rebel junior Drew Pomeranz (3-0, 1.23) on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

        

Game Notes

·          Tonight was the Gators’ seventh come-from-behind victory of the season.

·          UF also trailed 8-0 at No. 6 Georgia in third inning on May 1, 2009, before notching a 10-9 victory in 11 innings.

·          Florida improved to 15-1 at McKethan Stadium this season.

·          UF’s season-best errorless streak was snapped at five games.

·          The eight runs allowed in the second inning was the most given up by the Gators in any frame this year.

·          Matt den Dekker and Preston Tucker drew two walks apiece.

·          Nolan Fontana matched his career-high of two RBI.

·          Austin Maddox made his first start at third base. The rookie has now started at designated hitter, catcher and first base.

 

-UF-

 

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