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Tuesday April 6, 2010No. 8 Baseball Overpowers Jacksonville, 12-2

Gainesville, Fla.

No. 8 Florida (21-7) used a four-run second and a five-run sixth to cruise to a 12-2 victory over Jacksonville (16-14) on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium. Senior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) each chipped in with two-run triples as the Gators tallied 14 hits, scored 10 runs with two out and their bullpen ended the game with six scoreless innings.  

 

“We had built up 12 consecutive scoreless innings so it was important for us to get a lead and we were swinging the bats better tonight,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It was great to get (Greg) Larson back on the mound as it’s been awhile since he’s been up. I thought he gave us a quality effort and I was really pleased with his stuff tonight. You hope to have games like this every so often when we can get a lot of players in there and use a bunch of pitchers. Overall, it was a great game for us.”

 

The Gators plated four runs on three hits and an error in the second off senior Glenn Witkowski (2-4) to take a 4-0 lead. Freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) led off with an infield hit but was erased on a fielder’s choice by freshman Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (2-for-5, two RBI, two runs). Junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-3) singled through the right side and was out at second on a fielder’s choice by sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) (1-for-4, two runs). With runners on the corners, Pigott delivered a two-run, two-out triple to open the scoring. It was his first triple of the year and the fourth of his career. After freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (2-for-2, three runs) was hit by a pitch, Fontana’s grounder was misplayed by senior second baseman Chuck Opachich, allowing Pigott to come across. Moments later, Fontana was caught in a run-down that lasted long enough for Zunino to score the fourth run. Witkowski permitted three hits and four runs (two earned) over three innings of work.

 

Jacksonville cut the deficit in half with a pair of unearned runs in the third against sophomore Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) (1-0). After Larson retired the first six Dolphin hitters of the game, junior Alex Swenson and sophomore Jimmy Howick began the inning with back-to-back singles. Senior Derek Abis advanced his teammates with a sacrifice bunt and Opachich legged out an infield hit to load the bases. Sophomore Jonathan Murphy hit a comebacker back to the mound that Larson fielded and threw home for the force at the plate. However, Zunino dropped the ball, enabling Swenson to score. Freshman Dan Gulbransen lofted a sacrifice fly to center field to drive in Howick for a 4-2 margin.

 

Making just his second career start, Larson gave up three hits and a couple of unearned runs over three innings and matched his season high of two strikeouts. Sophomore right-hander Justin Poovey (Granite Falls, N.C.) followed on the mound and notched a career-high four K over two scoreless frames.

 

“It felt good to get back out there,” Larson said. “I’ve been out with an injury the past couple weeks, so it was good to get back on my feet.”

 

Senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) expanded UF’s lead to 5-2 in the fifth with an RBI grounder that scored Zunino. After sophomore Clay Kollenbaum took over on the mound for junior Brian Gilroy (1.0 IP, 1 H), Zunino opened the frame with an infield single and stole second base before taking third on a grounder by Fontana. den Dekker collected his 21st RBI of the campaign to give the hosts a three-run lead.

 

UF mounted a two-out rally in the sixth that boosted its advantage to 10-2. Kollenbaum (1.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R) recorded the first two outs of the inning before surrendering a base-hit up the middle by Thompson. Pigott earned a free pass for two runners aboard and Zunino’s flare into center field scored Thompson and prompted another call to the bullpen. Fontana greeted freshman Sean Kennedy with a two-run triple that cleared the bases and the lefty issued a walk to den Dekker. Sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) kept the inning going with an RBI single and Kennedy (2 H, 2 R) was replaced by freshman Kentrail Pierce. The righty uncorked a wild pitch that enabled den Dekker to score all the way from second base for an eight-run cushion.    

 

Johnson opened the home part of the seventh with his first career homer, a shot into the left-field bleachers. The round-tripper extended his hitting streak to four games and resulted in an 11-2 lead.

 

Sophomore Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) allowed one hit and notched two strikeouts over two scoreless innings before giving way to freshman Ben Brown (Winter Haven , Fla.) in the eighth. In his collegiate debut, the righty issued two walks and collected one strikeout. In the bottom of the frame, Johnson finalized the scoring with an RBI single into left field with two down that scored freshman Kamm Washington (Boynton Beach, Fla.). Washington had reached via a two-out pinch-hit single. Junior Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) registered two strikeouts in finishing the Dolphins off in the ninth.

 

The Gators start an eight-game road trip on Friday night at Eastern Division rival Tennessee (15-14/2-7 SEC). First pitch from Lindsey Nelson Stadium will be at 7:05 p.m.

 

Game Notes

·          The Gators now lead the all-time series against Jacksonville, 49-29 overall and 29-11 in Gainesville.

·          Jonathan Pigott has had one triple in each of the past four seasons.

·          Greg Larson’s only career start prior to tonight was at Florida State on April 14, 2009 (W, 4.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 1 K).

·          The last time that Florida had two triples in the same game was against Siena on Feb. 25.

·          Josh Adams collected his first multiple-hit game since March 24 versus Florida Gulf Coast.

·          Mike Zunino delivered his third multiple-hit game of the year and scored a career-high three runs.

·          Florida has now out-scored opponents, 40-12, in the sixth inning.

 

-UF-

 

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