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Sunday May 9, 2010Alabama Holds Off No. 4 Baseball, 10-8

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Alabama junior Josh Rutledge (3-for-5) set a career high with six RBI and the Crimson Tide (29-19/10-14 SEC) snapped a 6-6 tie with three runs in the fifth to salvage the finale of its weekend series with a 10-8 victory over No. 4 Florida (33-12/17-7 SEC) on Sunday afternoon. Although the loss ended a season-high seven-game winning streak for the Gators, they remain tied atop the SEC standings with South Carolina (36-11/17-7 SEC) with two conference series remaining.

 

Freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (3-for-5, two RBI) led off the second inning with his team-leading 15th homer, second of the series. The slugger sent an 0-1 pitch from junior Nathan Kilcrease (4-2) over the right-field wall for his 11th round-tripper in SEC play, a total that leads the league.

 

Alabama answered in the bottom of the frame with four runs on three hits off freshman Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) to take its first lead of the series, 4-1. Senior Cody Trotter led off with a single into left center and was sacrificed to second by sophomore Jon Kelton (1-for-3, two runs). After freshman Andrew Miller (2-for-2, four runs) was hit by a pitch, senior Cal Tinsley laid down a bunt single to load the bases. Sophomore Taylor Dugas (0-for-2, two RBI) lofted a sacrifice fly to center field to score Trotter and Rutledge cleared the bases with a three-run job, his seventh, over the left-field wall for a three-run margin for the Tide.

 

UF used an RBI grounder by senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (2-for-5, three RBI) in the third to close the gap to 4-2. Sophomore Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) reached on a throwing error by Rutledge and freshman Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (2-for-4) extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a base-hit into center field. Freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) moved his teammates into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and den Dekker had a grounder to first that drove in Thompson.

 

Maddox opened the fourth with his team-best 14th double, moved to third on a grounder by Johnson and came home on sophomore Daniel Pigott’s (Ormond Beach, Fla.) third sac fly of the campaign to trim the deficit to 4-3.  

 

Rutledge came through with a bases-loaded two-run single in the home part of the fourth for a 6-3 Tide advantage. Kelton singled up the middle and Miller legged out a bunt for a pair of runners aboard before Johnson had Tinley pop up a bunt attempt for the first out. Johnson (3.1 IP, 5 H, 6 R) hit Dugas to load the bases and was replaced by sophomore Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) (2-3). The righty surrendered a two-run single through the left side by Rutledge to put the Gators down by three before Rutledge was gunned down by Zunino on the back end of a double steal attempt. DeSclafani plunked senior Clay Jones for runners on the corners but then fanned senior Jake Smith to end the frame.

 

Florida countered with three two-out runs in the fifth, courtesy of a two-run homer by den Dekker and a double by Maddox, to knot the contest at 6-6. Thompson began the frame with a single but was erased on a fielder’s choice by Fontana, who moved into scoring position with his eighth theft. den Dekker had a quite a battle with Kilcrease before sending a 3-2 pitch to deep right field for his eighth dinger to equal his career high set in 2008. Following a walk to sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.), Maddox raked a double into the left-field corner that brought Tucker all the way around from first with the equalizer.   

 

The Tide came right back with three runs in the home part of the inning to seize a 9-6 lead. Junior David Kindred started things off with a double into right center before DeSclafani struck out Trotter. Sophomore Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) took over for DeSclafani (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R) and hit both Kelton and Miller to fill the bags. The lefty whiffed Tinlsey but then issued a walk to Dugas that gave the Crimson Tide a 7-6 edge. Sophomore Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) replaced Maronde (0.1 IP, 2 R) had Rutledge ground to third, but Maddox committed his second error of the game to bring across Kelton. Larson then hit Jones to bring across Miller for a 9-6 lead for the hosts.

 

Zunino launched his eighth homer over the wall in left field to begin the seventh and narrow the gap to 9-7. The rookie’s second four-bagger of the series gave him a team-leading seven RBI on the weekend. Consecutive back-to-back one-out singles by den Dekker and Tucker ended the afternoon for Kilcrease, who allowed nine hits and seven runs (six earned) over 6.1 innings in his first career SEC start. Smith moved from third base to the mound and had Maddox fly out to right field, pushing den Dekker to third. The reliever had Johnson fly out to the warning track in left field to keep the Tide ahead by two.

 

Rutledge delivered a two-out RBI infield single off freshman Stephen Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) to give Alabama an insurance run and a 10-7 lead in the seventh. Miller led off with a base-hit into right field and was sacrificed into scoring position by Tinsley. After Dugas flew out, Rutledge banged a single that caromed off Maddox into the outfield, enabling Miller to score.

 

The Gators loaded the bases with none out in the eighth but could only tally one run. Pigott began the inning with a single and Adams reached on a miscue by Rutledge before Thompson earned a free pass to load the bases. Smith answered with a strikeout of Zunino before Fontana lofted a sac fly into right field for a 10-8 deficit. The righty struck out den Dekker on a 3-2 pitch to preserve UA’s lead.

 

With Florida down its last out, Johnson singled to right and was replaced by junior pinch runner Bryson Smith (Watkinsville , Ga.). Smith (2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R) caught Pigott looking on strikes to nail down the victory and pick up his third save. UF held an 11-9 advantage in hits but each squad committed three errors. The Gators return to action on Wednesday at McKethan Stadium at 6:30 p.m. against Florida Atlantic (31-17/19-8 Sun Belt) before hosting Eastern Division rival Georgia (13-33/3-19 SEC) next weekend.

 

-UF-

 

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