Thursday May 27, 2010No. 4 Baseball Ousts No. 12 Arkansas, 5-4
Top-seeded Florida (41-14) edged fourth-seeded Arkansas (40-18), 5-4, in the second elimination game of the 2010 SEC Tournament on Thursday afternoon at Regions Park. With the victory, the Gators stay alive to face the loser of tonight’s winner’s bracket contest between fifth-seeded Vanderbilt (41-15) and eighth-seeded LSU (37-20) in tomorrow’s second game that will begin 30 minutes after the completion of the 4 p.m. game. Both elimination games will televised on SportSouth, air locally in Gainesville on WLUF-TV, channel 6 on Cox Cable and be streamed on www.GatorZone.com via ESPN3.com.
“I thought both teams played really well today,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I mean, let’s face it, it was an elimination round and neither team wanted to go home. Both sides pitched very well and it came down to some key hits throughout the game. I think we played good defense for the most part. Both pitching staffs gave their teams the chances to win today.”
With Florida holding a 5-3 lead in the ninth, Arkansas freshman Matt Reynolds started the frame with a single into right off junior closer Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) and went to second on a wild pitch. The reliever had freshman Derrick Bleeker ground out, moving junior pinch runner Brett Eibner to third base. After Chapman plunked redshirt sophomore Tim Carver for runners on the corners, sophomore James McCann stepped to the plate with one down and roped a ball into right field that appeared destined for extra bases, only to have senior right fielder Jonathan Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) make a tremendous sprawling catch to record the out. Although Eibner came home on the sacrifice fly, the Gators were able to end the game on a double play, as Pigott relayed the ball to junior second baseman Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.), who fired a bullet to sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) to complete the victory.
Sophomore Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) (9-2) earned his team-high ninth win by allowing four hits and three runs over 6.2 innings, and the left-hander registered five strikeouts. Senior Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.) retired all four batters he faced and Chapman yielded a hit and run in the ninth to collect his 11th save.
Freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-4, two RBI) delivered a two-out RBI single off senior Mike Bolsinger (6-4) in the first inning to break the ice. Freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (2-for-3, two runs) had drawn a leadoff walk and advanced around the bases on consecutive grounders by senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and Tucker. Maddox, the 2010 SEC Freshman of the Year, sent Bolsinger’s first pitch into right field to drive in Fontana.
The Gators increased their lead to 3-0 in the third on back-to-back two-out RBI singles by Maddox and freshman Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.). Fontana stroked a one-out single through the right side and den Dekker followed with a walk before Tucker was caught looking on strikes. Maddox roped a 2-0 pitch into left field to score Fontana and Johnson also lined Bolsinger’s next offering into left to plate den Dekker with the third run.
Panteliodis retired the first 11 batters of the game before yielding a two-out double to redshirt junior Travis Sample in the fourth. Although junior Monk Kreder narrowed the gap to 3-1 with an RBI single into left, Panteliodis finished the frame with a strikeout of junior Andy Wilkins.
Bolsinger allowed four hits and three runs over three innings and was replaced by redshirt sophomore Drew Smyly prior to UF’s fourth at bat. The Gators answered the Hogs’ tally with a run of their own, as freshman Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) came home when Fontana was caught in a run-down long enough to let his teammate score. Smyly registered the first two outs of the inning before Dent blooped a single into left field and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Fontana legged out an infield hit for runners on the corners and Smyly had two strikes on den Dekker when Fontana came off first base and forced a pickoff throw over by the pitcher. Fontana stayed in the basepaths long enough for Dent to provide Florida with a 4-1 advantage.
Arkansas closed to within 4-3 in the fifth when Tucker lost a ball in the sun and it resulted in a two-run, two-out triple by redshirt sophomore Collin Kuhn. Senior Tom Hauskey led off with a double but was erased at third base on a fielder’s choice by Carver. McCann earned a free pass for a pair of runners aboard and Panteliodis responded with a strikeout of redshirt freshman Kyle Atkins for out number two. The southpaw induced what should have been an inning-ending fly-out by Kuhn but the glare of the sun enabled the ball to drop into right field and allow both Carver and McCann to come in to reduce the deficit to a run.
Hauskey started the seventh with a fly ball into right field that Tucker misplayed for a two-base error. Panteliodis struck out Carver and then had McCann fly out to center, advancing pinch runner Bleeker to third base. Freshman Matt Vinson drew a walk, leaving runners on the corners and prompting a Gator pitching change. Barfield took over for Panteliodis (6.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 5 K) and a phenomenal backhanded defensive play by Fontana at shortstop on Kuhn’s grounder forced Vinson at second base to end the inning.
After Barfield retired the Hogs in order in the top of the eighth, Tucker reached on a collision between third baseman Wilkins and Smyly on an infield fly with one down in the bottom of the inning. Maddox’s potential double play grounder to second was then misplayed by sophomore Bo Bigham, resulting in two Gators aboard. Junior pinch hitter Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) drew a walk to load the bases with one down and Adams laid down a sacrifice bunt that brought home Tucker with an unearned run for a 5-3 margin and moved the runners over. Smyly fanned sophomore Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) to strand the runners. Over five innings out of the bullpen, the All-SEC hurler allowed three hits and two runs (one earned) and notched six K.
· Florida improved to 3-1 against Arkansas this year and avenged last season’s elimination at Regions Park at the hands of the Hogs.
· Today was the Gators’ first triumph at a neutral site this season after falling in Tampa, Jacksonville and Hoover yesterday.
· Florida improved to 2-2 all-time versus Arkansas in the SEC Tourney.
· The Orange and Blue is now 9-3 in one-run games this season.
· The Gators are 35-0 leading after six innings, 39-0 leading after seven innings and 38-0 this year when leading after eight innings.
· Alex Panteliodis’ nine wins are the most by a Gator since Alan Horne had 10 in 2005.
· Kevin Chapman’s 11 saves match Billy Bullock (2009) and John Pricher (1992) for the fourth-most in a single season by a UF pitcher.
· Cody Dent made his first career start at third base.
· The Gators started three freshmen in the infield: Austin Maddox (1B), Nolan Fontana (SS) and Cody Dent (3B).
· Josh Adams has driven in eight runs over the past five games.
· Matt den Dekker’s 16-game hitting streak ended with a 0-for-3 performance.
· Austin Maddox leads the Gators with 19 multiple-RBI games and paces the squad with 66 RBI.