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Sunday April 18, 2010Kentucky Salvages Finale Against No. 7 Baseball, 6-5

Lexington, Ky.

Kentucky (22-14/5-10 SEC) avoided a weekend sweep by No. 7 Florida (25-10/10-5 SEC) with a 6-5 win on Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The Wildcats raced out to a 6-0 lead through three innings and held off several rallies to notch the win. Sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville , Fla.) brought the Gators within a run in the ninth with a two-run homer with one down before redshirt junior Matt Little recorded the final two outs to pick up his sixth save.

 

Junior Lance Ray was a perfect 3-for-3 and sophomore Cory Farris was 2-for-4 with two RBI for UK, while sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-5), freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (1-for-3) and Adams (1-for-2) each homered in the setback.

 

The Wildcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning against sophomore Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) (2-2). Junior Chris Bisson (2-for-5) smashed a leadoff single into left field and scored on sophomore Chad Wright’s double down the left-field line. DeSclafani issued a walk to redshirt senior Gunner Glad before having sophomore Andy Burns fly out to center field. The righty induced a grounder from redshirt senior Keenan Wiley that forced Glad at second base but Tucker could not handle the relay throw on the potential double play, allowing Wiley to reach base. After Wiley moved to second on a wild pitch, Farris rifled a two-run double to right field for a three-run advantage.

 

UK tacked on two more runs on three hits in the second to build a 5-0 lead. Ray opened with a base-hit into right field and went to third on a hit-and-run single by junior Taylor Black (2-for-4). Bisson beat out an infield hit to drive in Ray with the fourth run and a grounder by Wright advanced his teammates into scoring position. Glad increased the Wildcats’ lead to 5-0 with a sacrifice fly into left field that scored Black.

 

An RBI single by Black in the third provided Kentucky with a 6-0 cushion. Wiley and Farris began the frame with back-to-back singles and a sacrifice bunt by redshirt senior Marcus Nidiffer moved the runners over and ended the afternoon for DeSclafani. Over 2.1 innings, the righty surrendered eight hits and six runs in his first SEC start of the year. Freshman Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) issued a walk to Ray that loaded the bases with one down. After Black boosted the Wildcats’ margin to six runs with a base-hit into shallow left field, Rodriguez pitched out of further trouble.

 

Freshman Walter Wijas retired the first 10 Gators before sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach , Fla.) ripped a single up the middle with one down in the fourth. Tucker raised his hitting streak to 10 games with a double into the right-field corner and Maddox drew a walk to fill the bags. Senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) put Florida on the board with a high single off the wall overlooking right field, prompting a pitching change. Freshman Jordan Cooper (2-3) replaced Wijas (3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 K) and had sophomore Ben McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) ground into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play that snuffed out any possible Gator rally. 

 

Tucker crushed his sixth homer to straightaway center field with two down in the sixth for a 6-2 score. It was his second dinger in as many days and cleared the 390-foot mark with ease. 

 

McMahan began the seventh with a single to right field and sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) followed with a walk. A grounder by freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) advanced his teammates into scoring position and the Wildcats made a call to the bullpen. Redshirt sophomore Joe Devine came in for Cooper (3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 K) and struck out Adams before being replaced by junior Mike Kaczmarek. Freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) walked to load the bases and redshirt junior Nick Kennedy became UK’s fourth pitcher of the inning. The righty had Pigott ground out to bring the Gators’ left on base total to six.

 

Maddox connected on his team-leading 12th homer to right field with one down in the eighth to bring Florida within 6-3. The rookie slugger hit a round-tripper in every game this weekend and is tied for the SEC home run lead with Auburn’s Brian Fletcher.

 

Rodriguez worked a career-high five scoreless innings in which he totaled a career-high five strikeouts and permitted four hits. Senior Chas Spottswood (Key West, Fla.) retired both Wildcats he faced to keep UF down by there heading to the ninth.  

 

Zunino was plunked by Kennedy with one out in the final frame, causing Little to enter the contest. A wild pitch moved Zunino into scoring position and Adams bashed a two-run homer to right field to narrow the gap to 6-5. Fontana poked a single up the middle and Little responded by catching Pigott looking on strikes and having Tucker ground out to nail down his sixth save. The Wildcats held a 12-8 advantage in hits.

 

The Gators will conclude their eight-game road trip on Wednesday in Tampa against USF (16-19/8-4 Big East) at 7 p.m. The teams opened the season at McKethan Stadium and Florida claimed all three meetings.

 

Game Notes

·          Kentucky ended a three-game losing streak to Florida dating back to game two last year in Gainesville.

·          Cody Dent made his second start of the season at second base.

·          Daniel Pigott extended his hitting streak to six games, one shy of his career high.

·          Preston Tucker’s 10-game hitting streak equals his career best.

·          Steven Rodriguez made his first appearance since March 24 against Florida Gulf Coast and totaled career highs in innings pitched (5.0) and strikeouts (five).

·          Seven of Austin Maddox’s 12 home runs have come with no one on base.

·          Chas Spottswood saw his first action since March 27 at Ole Miss and retired both batters he faced.

 

-UF-

 

 

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