Saturday May 7, 2011No. 4 Florida Takes Finale At No. 18 Arkansas, 5-3
No. 4 Florida (36-12/18-6 SEC) used a game-tying single by junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) and a go-ahead two-run single by junior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) as part of a three-run seventh inning to defeat No. 18 Arkansas (32-15/12-12 SEC), 5-3, on Saturday night in front of 9,862 fans, the ninth-largest crowd in Baum Stadium history.
The win enabled the Gators to salvage the finale of the three-game series and halt an eight-game losing streak to the Hogs in Fayetteville. Sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-0) threw 3.1 scoreless and hitless innings to earn the victory.
Maddox (1-for-3) provided the Gators with a 1-0 lead in the second with an RBI single. After a 13-pitch at bat, Pigott (2-for-4) extended his hitting streak to eight games with a one-out single up the middle and moved into scoring position with his team-leading ninth stolen base. Maddox roped a base-knock into right center to score Pigott with the initial run and junior catcher James McCann was called for catcher’s interference, putting junior Jeff Moyer (Winter Springs, Fla.) aboard. After redshirt sophomore Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) flew out, senior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) drew a walk to load the bases with two down. Sophomore Cade Lynch had a grounder by sophomore Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) force Smith at second to end the frame.
Freshman Karsten Whitson (Chipley, Fla.) retired the first eight batters of the contest before redshirt junior Tim Carver (2-for-3) punched a two-out single into center field in the third. However, sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) gunned down Carver attempting to steal second to complete the inning.
Junior Bo Bigham (2-for-4) led off UA’s fourth with a single through the left side, went to second on a wild pitch from Whitson but was thrown out by Zunino trying to take third on the play. Whitson had redshirt junior Collin Kuhn and freshman Dominic Ficociello each fly out to the warning track to close the stanza.
Freshman Nolan Sanburn (2-4) took over for Lynch (4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R) prior to the fifth inning. With one down, Fontana gave the Gators a 2-0 lead with his second homer of the season, first since March 22 against Winthrop. The big fly landed in the right-field bullpen. UF mounted a two-out rally, as Tucker walked and senior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) singled into left center. Sanburn fanned Pigott for his third strikeout of the inning to keep the Hogs down by a pair of runs.
Sophomore Matt Reynolds cut Arkansas’ deficit in half with a two-out solo shot to left field in the home part of the inning. His third homer was the first allowed by Whitson this season in 62.2 innings.
Ficociello moved the Hogs in front, 3-2, with a clutch two-out, two-run double to left center in the sixth. Carver and Bigham had consecutive one-out singles before Whitson struck out Kuhn. Ficociello’s team-leading 15th two-bagger to the base of the wall plated both of his teammates and ended the night for Whitson (5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 6 K). Maddox took over on the mound and uncorked a wild pitch that pushed Ficociello to third base before walking McCann for runners on the corners. Maddox had senior Kyle Robinson fly out to center field to hold the deficit at a run.
Florida answered with three runs on four hits in the seventh to take a 5-3 advantage, highlighted by a game-tying single by Tucker and a go-ahead two-run single by Pigott. Fontana opened the stanza with a single up the middle and Zunino moved him to third by raising his hitting streak to 12 games. Redshirt sophomore Trent Daniel was summoned from the bullpen for Sanburn (2.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R) and surrendered an RBI single by Tucker, who boosted his hitting streak to 12 games on the play. Adams executed a sacrifice bunt to move both Zunino and Tucker into scoring position and Pigott cashed in with a two-run single into center field. Pigott was thrown out attempting to steal third and Maddox lined out to end the inning.
Maddox worked around Gator errors in both the seventh and eighth innings before setting down the Hogs 1-2-3 in the ninth to secure the triumph. UF had a 9-6 advantage in hits and each team committed two errors.
The Gators return to action on Wednesday by hosting North Florida (24-21/12-14 A-Sun) at McKethan Stadium before heading to Nashville for a three-game series at No. 1 Vanderbilt (39-6/18-5 SEC) that begins on Friday night.
For all of the latest information on Florida baseball, log on to http://www.gatorzone.com/baseball/ or, for up-to-the-minute updates, follow the team’s Twitter account @GatorZoneBB at www.twitter.com/GatorZoneBB.