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Sunday April 4, 2010No. 17 Vanderbilt Blanks No. 8 Baseball, 7-0

Gainesville, Fla.

Behind a combined five-hit shutout anchored by sophomore right-hander Jack Armstrong (4-0) and a pair of solo homers by sophomore Jason Esposito (2-for-5, three runs), No. 17 Vanderbilt (24-6/5-4 SEC) salvaged the finale of its weekend series with a 7-0 victory over No. 8 Florida (20-7/5-3 SEC) on Easter Sunday at McKethan Stadium. The defeat ended an eight-game winning streak at home for the Gators, who fell to 17-2 on their own turf this spring.


“We weren’t able to get quality at bats this afternoon but we had our opportunities,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “(Jack) Armstrong did a nice job and had us put the ball in play. When we only get five hits, it’s going to be tough to win any game. Hudson Randall gave us a nice chance to win. We just didn’t get anything going offensively.”


Freshman Anthony Gomez (4-for-5, two RBI) opened the scoring in the fourth for the Commodores with a two-out flare into left field off freshman Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (2-3). Esposito struck out to begin the inning but reached first on a wild pitch by Randall. Esposito moved into scoring position with his team-leading 14th stolen base before the right-hander fanned freshman Connor Harrell (2-for-4) and had sophomore Joe Loftus ground out. Gomez broke the ice with a base-hit into shallow left field.


Junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) led off the home part of the fifth with a single into left and freshman Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) drew a four-pitch walk from Armstrong but the Gators failed to capitalize. Sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt for the first out, Armstrong set down freshman Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.) on a fly ball and had a fielder’s choice by freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) force Johnson at second to end the frame.


Esposito belted his sixth homer to open the sixth and the visitors also tacked on an unearned run with two down to build a 3-0 lead. The round-tripper came on Randall’s first pitch and was to left field. Back-to-back two-out singles by Gomez and freshman Mike Yastrzemski (2-for-4) ended the afternoon for Randall, who allowed seven hits and three runs, with a career-high six strikeouts over 5.2 innings. Senior Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.) had Harris hit a grounder to freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.), but Adams misplayed the relay throw, allowing Gomez to come across for a three-run margin.


Although the Gators threatened again in the bottom of the stanza, Armstrong kept them at bay. Fontana began the inning with a ricochet single off Armstrong’s leg and advanced on senior Matt den Dekker’s (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) groundout. After sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) earned a free pass, a grounder by Maddox pushed both of his teammates into scoring position. Armstrong had Adams ground out to keep Florida scoreless.  


Esposito connected on his second homer of the day and seventh of the year with two down off Barfield in the seventh for a 4-0 lead. After issuing a leadoff walk to Johnson, Armstrong (6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 K, 3 BB) was replaced by junior Richie Goodenow. The lefty struck out both sophomore pinch hitter Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) and Washington before having a grounder by Zunino force Johnson at second for the final out.  


Gomez started the eighth with single into left and moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Yastrzemski. Senior Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.) took over for Barfield (1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R) and retired both hitters he faced. The highlight of the inning defensively was a sprawling catch by den Dekker to deny sophomore Riley Reynolds’ bid for a pinch-hit RBI single.


Fontana was hit to begin the Gators’ eighth before Loftus robbed den Dekker of a potential two-run homer with a leaping grab at the right-field fence. Goodenow (1.2 scoreless and hitless innings, 2 K) had Tucker pop up before junior Chase Reid (1.1 IP, 1 H) had Maddox fly out.


Vanderbilt erupted for five hits and three runs in the ninth to finalize the 7-0 margin. Senior Andrew Giobbi greeted sophomore Justin Poovey (Granite Falls, N.C.) with a leadoff double and sophomore Aaron Westlake followed with a two-bagger of his own for a 5-0 lead. Harrell singled into right field to push Westlake to third and Loftus punched a one-out RBI single up the middle. Gomez stroked a base-hit through the right side to complete the scoring.


The Commodores out-hit the hosts, 15-4, as five different players turned in multiple-hit outings. The Gators return to action on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. by hosting Jacksonville (16-13/8-4 A-Sun) at McKethan Stadium. This will be Florida’s final home game until April 23 against Arkansas, as it begins an eight-game road trip at Eastern Division rival Tennessee on Friday night.


Game Notes

·          Florida was shutout at home for the first time since Feb. 25, 2007, 1-0 by Kent State.

·          UF’s last time being blanked before this afternoon was 4-0 at LSU on May 9, 2009.

·          The Gators suffered their first loss at McKethan Stadium since a 6-3 setback to Charleston Southern on March 14, ending an eight-game winning streak.

·          Florida’s total of five hits was a season low, eclipsing six that happened three times.

·          Hudson Randall’s previous high of five strikeouts came against Mississippi State (3/21) and Illinois State (3/9).

·          Brian Johnson served as the designated hitter for the third-straight day and extended his hitting streak to three games.




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