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Tuesday April 5, 2011UCF Rallies To Stun No. 4 Florida, 4-3

Gainesville, Fla.

Sophomore Darnell Sweeney delivered a two-out, two-run double in the ninth to lift UCF (20-9) to a 4-3 victory over No. 4 Florida (24-6) on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium. With the Knights down to their final out, Sweeney (2-for-5) launched a two-bagger to straightaway center field off junior Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) (4-1) that brought home junior Beau Taylor (2-for-3) with the tying run and sophomore Ryan Breen (2-for-4) with what proved to be the winning run.


In the bottom of the frame, sophomore Ronnie Richardson set down the Gators in order to register his first save and make a winner out of redshirt sophomore D.J. Hicks (2-1), who had yielded a two-out, pinch-hit single to junior Jeff Moyer (Winter Springs, Fla.) in the eighth that had given UF a 3-2 edge.


Junior Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) issued a leadoff walk to Taylor to start the ninth. After DeSclafani struck out junior Erik Hempe, Breen deposited a single into left center for two runners on base. The righty fanned sophomore Austin Johnston and Sweeney atoned for his error the previous inning with the go-ahead two-run double to deep center field.


“It was a good ballgame by both sides,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We had some opportunities in the second and third with one out and we left 10 guys stranded again. In games in general, if you score only three runs it’s going to be a dog-fight to the end and tonight they seemed to get a big hit when they needed it. Right there at the end, you’ve got to tip your cap. The lead-off walk certainly didn’t help but it’s just a frustrating loss and we’ve got to move beyond it after tonight.”


With the score knotted at 2-2 in the eighth, Hicks had moved from the designated hitter spot to the mound and sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) started the frame by reaching on an error by Sweeney at shortstop. Junior Tyler Thompson (Tequesta, Fla.) moved redshirt junior pinch runner Paul Wilson (Lakeland, Fla.) into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt before Hicks had senior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-4) pop up for the second out. Moyer came through with an RBI single up the middle to drive in Wilson.


The Gators had used a two-out rally and a two-run single by Maddox with the bases loaded to open the scoring in the first inning. Senior Chase Bradford had retired the first two Gators before hitting junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) and issuing back-to-back walks to sophomores Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) and Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.). Maddox delivered a base-hit up the middle to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.


Breen cut the deficit in half with a lead-off homer in the third off junior Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla). The round-tripper into the left-field bleachers was his first of the season.


Junior Bryan Brown replaced Bradford (2.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R) in the bottom of the third and surrendered a one-out single to Tucker before walking Zunino. The right-hander worked out of trouble by having Johnson and Maddox fly out.


Thompson and Adams opened the fourth with consecutive singles to prompt a pitching change, as senior Nick Cicio replaced Brown (1. IP, 3 H). Freshman Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) laid down a sacrifice bunt up the third-base line to move both of his teammates into scoring position and Cicio responded by having sophomore Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) fly out and junior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) ground out.


In the fifth, Hempe tied the game at 2-2 with his second homer of the year to left field but the Knights left the bases full. Following the big fly, Fontana committed a throwing error on a one-out grounder by Breen, leaving the runner on second and prompting a pitching change. Maddox replaced Panteliodis, who gave up three hits and two runs with three strikeouts over 4.1 innings. After a free pass to Johnston, Maddox caught Sweeney looking on strikes for the second out and then walked Richardson to load the bases. Maddox had Hicks fly out to center field keep the game tied.


Junior Matt Collins came in for Cicio (2.0 IP, 1 H) in the home part of the sixth and Adams doubled into the right-field corner off with one down. The righty struck out Powers but a wild pitch and missed tag by catcher Taylor enabled Powers to reach for two runners aboard. Collins had Fontana fly out to center and Pigott line out to short, bringing the Gators’ runners left on base to nine.


Maddox retired the first two batters of the seventh before Sweeney sent a fly ball into shallow left field. Fontana backpedaled to make a play but the ball fell in for a single. Maddox had Richardson pop out to Powers in foul territory to end the frame. Junior Danny Winkler took over on the mound in the seventh and set down the Gators in order.


Maronde replaced Maddox (2.2 IP, 2 H, 3 K) at the outset of the eighth and Thompson made a tremendous running catch at the center-field wall on a ball hit by senior Jonathan Griffin for the second out. Maronde finished the stanza by having sophomore Chris Taladay fly out.


Each team had seven hits and committed one error, while the Gators stranded 10 runners and the Knights left seven on base. Zunino’s career-high 17-game hitting streak ended with an 0-for-3 performance. Florida begins its season-high eight-game road trip on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series at Mississippi State (20-9/4-5 SEC). First pitch from Dudy Noble Field will be at 7:30 p.m.


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Game Notes

·         UCF ended a three-game losing streak to the Gators.

·         Florida fell to 3-4 in Tuesday night games this season.

·         UF is now 19-4 at McKethan Stadium in 2011.

·         Austin Maddox entered the game with 10 strikeouts and zero walks.


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