Saturday April 17, 2010No. 7 Baseball Holds Off Kentucky, 10-8
Despite enduring a 90-minute rain delay in the top of the eighth inning, No. 7 Florida (24-9/9-4 SEC) posted a 10-8 victory over Kentucky (21-13/4-9 SEC) in the opener of the Eastern Division rivals’ weekend series on Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium. It was the 100th victory for third-year head coach Kevin O’Sullivan.
Gator freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (3-for-5) snapped a 6-6 tie with a towering three-run homer with two down in the seventh and senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (2-for-3) opened the eighth with a round-tripper before the game was delayed at 9:35 p.m.
Although the Wildcats clawed back with two runs in home part of the eighth, senior reliever Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.) (2-0) picked up the win and junior Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) recorded the final six outs and had four strikeouts to collect his seventh save.
Kentucky used a pair of homers by sophomore Andy Burns (2-for-5) and redshirt senior Marcus Nidiffer (2-for-3, three runs, two RBI) off sophomore Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) in the second to build a 2-0 lead. Burns connected on his 10th homer of the year to right center field to start the inning and Nidiffer blasted his fourth round-tripper with two down to left center. Entering the game, Panteliodis had allowed two homers all season.
Helped by a pair of Gator errors, UK increased its advantage to 3-0 in the fourth. Burns started things off with his sixth double down the left-field line and went to third on a failed pickoff throw by Panteliodis. Sophomore Braden Kapteyn poked an RBI single into left to score Burns and redshirt senior Keenan Wiley reached on a fielding error by junior third baseman Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.). Nidiffer laid down a sacrifice bunt for two runners in scoring position and Panteliodis prevented further damage by having junior Taylor Black line out.
Florida exploded for five runs in the fifth against junior left-hander Logan Darnell to move in front, 5-3. Senior Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) led off the frame with his first homer of the year to left field. It was his first dinger since May 30, 2009, against Miami (Fla.) in the NCAA Gainesville Regional. den Dekker reached on an infield single and went to second on a throwing error by junior second baseman Chris Bisson. Junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) and freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) drew consecutive one-out walks to load the bases. Freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) stroked a base-hit into right field that scored den Dekker and Adams and an error by redshirt senior outfielder Gunner Glad allowed Zunino to score and Fontana to occupy third base. Sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-5) drove in Fontana with a grounder to second.
In the bottom of the stanza, sophomore Chad Wright (2-for-4, two RBI) singled to left field with one down and Glad earned a free pass before Panteliodis uncorked a wild pitch to move both runners into scoring position. The southpaw caught Burns looking on strikes and had Kapteyn fly out to den Dekker to preserve the 5-3 lead.
Florida used Smith’s first sacrifice fly of the year in the sixth to go up, 6-3. Maddox led off with his second hit of the night, his team-leading 11th double to left, and Jonathan Pigott followed by being plunked. den Dekker executed a sacrifice bunt to push his teammates over and Smith lofted a fly ball into center field that brought across Maddox to give the visitors a three-run cushion.
The Wildcats countered with three runs in the home part of the inning, highlighted by back-to-back homers, to even the score at 6-6. With one down, Nidiffer cranked his second homer of the game to center field and Black followed with his fifth jack to almost the same spot to end the night for Panteliodis. Over 5.1 innings, the lefty surrendered season highs in hits (eight) and runs (five). Sophomore Michael Williams roped a double to right center off sophomore Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) and Bisson drew a walk before a wild pitch left UK with runners on second and third. Wright’s sacrifice fly to left plated Williams with the equalizer and prompted another pitching change. Barfield relieved Maronde (0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R) and had Glad line out to close the frame.
Darnell departed after six full innings in which he allowed seven hits and six runs (four earned), with three strikeouts and two walks. Fontana earned a one-out walk from freshman Jordan Cooper (1-3) and sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) stroked a single with two down through the right side for runners on the corners. Maddox stepped to the plate and launched his team-leading 10th homer off the light tower in right field to provide the Gators with a 9-6 lead.
den Dekker opened the eighth with his sixth homer of the season over the right-field wall for a 10-6 edge for UF. Moments later, the game was delayed by rain and the tarp was put on the field at 9:35 p.m.
After play resumed at 11:05 p.m., the Gators did not score despite a single by Zunino off freshman Walker Wijas (2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 K). Nidiffer was hit by a pitch to begin the bottom of the frame and Black doubled down the left-field line to cause a pitching change. Chapman replaced Barfield (1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R) and issued a walk to Williams to load the bases and Bisson had an RBI grounder to close the gap to 10-7. Wright sliced a single into left field to drive in Black for a 10-8 count and Chapman responded with a strikeout of Glad and a fly out by Burns to keep the Gators ahead by a pair of runs. The southpaw struck out the side in the ninth to secure the triumph for Florida, which held a 12-11 advantage in hits.
Freshman righty Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (3-3, 3.98) will oppose UK left-hander Taylor Rogers (4-3, 4.86) tomorrow at 7 p.m. in game two of the series. The contest will be carried live on the Big Blue Sports Network and be shown on Cox Channel 21 in Gainesville.
· Austin Maddox leads Florida with 16 multiple-hit games and 12 multiple-RBI games.
· Maddox had a single, double and a homer for the Orange and Blue.
· The five-run fifth marked the sixth time this year Florida had five runs in a frame.
· Preston Tucker raised his hitting streak to eight games with a seventh-inning single.
· The Gators hit into double plays in both the first and second innings after putting the leadoff runner on base.
· Third baseman Bryson Smith returned to the lineup after missing 14-straight games with an injured finger.
· UF yielded a season-high four homers, its most since Auburn had five on April 10, 2009.