Saturday May 14, 2011No. 5 Florida Scores Twice In Ninth To Take Series Opener Over No. 2 Vanderbilt, 6-5
Senior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) cranked a game-tying homer to begin the ninth and senior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) snapped an 0-for-16 drought with an RBI double as No. 5 Florida (38-12/19-6 SEC) edged No. 2 Vanderbilt (41-7/19-6 SEC), 6-5, in the completion of Friday night’s suspended contest at Hawkins Field on Saturday afternoon. With the victory, the Gators are now tied with the Commodores for first place in the SEC standings with five contests remaining.
With the game knotted at 4-4 in the eighth, Vanderbilt freshman Conrad Gregor (3-for-4) collected his third hit of the outing with a one-out single into right field and was replaced by sophomore pinch runner Jack Lupo. Sophomore Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) was charged with a balk to push Lupo to second base and was replaced by junior Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.). The righty had senior pinch hitter Bryan Johns ground out to third base but then surrendered a base-knock up the middle by sophomore Connor Harrell (2-for-4) that brought in Lupo to give the hosts a one-run lead.
Adams tied the game at 5-5 with a leadoff homer in the ninth off Commodore junior closer Navery Moore (4-2), who had not permitted an extra-base hit the entire season. The blast was the fifth for Adams and came against a hurler who possessed a microscopic 0.36 earned run average and had notched nine saves entering the ballgame. Junior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a one-out single into left field and raced down to second base on a wild pitch. Sophomore Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) (1-for-3, two RBI) drew a walk for two Gators aboard and Smith came through with a double to right field that brought across Pigott for a 6-5 lead. With two runners in scoring position, junior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) was walked intentionally to load the bases with one down. Sophomore Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) sent a fly ball to the warning track in left field and freshman Tony Kemp threw out Smith at third base before Fontana could score an insurance run to end the inning and keep the Commodores down by one run.
Sophomore Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) picked up his second save by putting down Vanderbilt in order in the ninth to preserve the triumph for DeSclafani (5-2). The Gators had been 1-11 when trailing after eight innings until this afternoon’s heroics.
On Friday night, Vanderbilt jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning against sophomore Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) on an infield single by junior Jason Esposito (2-for-5, two RBI). Kemp had led off with a single up the middle and went to second courtesy of his ninth stolen base. A fly ball into left field by sophomore Anthony Gomez enabled Kemp to take third and junior Aaron Westlake walked on four pitches for runners on the corners. It was just the fifth walk issued by Randall all season. Esposito opened the scoring with an RBI single to shortstop, driving in Kemp and pushing Westlake to third base. Randall worked out of further trouble by having both sophomore Mike Yastrzemski and senior Curt Casali fly out.
The Gators countered with the tying run in the second on an RBI grounder by Adams. Zunino drew a leadoff walk and sophomore Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) bounced a single into left field before Maddox laid down his first sacrifice bunt of the campaign to advance his teammates into scoring position. Adams plated Zunino with a ground ball to second base and junior Sonny Gray stranded Johnson on third base by catching junior Jeff Moyer (Winter Springs, Fla.) looking on strikes.
The Commodores seized a 4-1 advantage in the third with three two-out runs on four hits and a critical Gator error. Gomez reached on an infield single with one down to third base and moved to second on a groundout by Westlake. Esposito then blooped a base-hit just beyond the reach of Maddox at first base to score Gomez with the go-ahead run. Yastrzemski legged out a bunt for two runners aboard and Casali hit a liner that Moyer misplayed, allowing Esposito to come across. Gregor singled through the left side to bring in Yastrzemski.
Harrell began the home part of the fourth with a double off the wall in left field and was sacrificed to third base by Kemp. Randall retired Gomez on a grounder but then walked Westlake, marking only the second time in 13 starts this season that he had permitted multiple walks. The righty had Esposito fly out to right field to end the inning.
Although UF pulled within 4-2 in the fifth, as Tucker was plunked with the bases loaded to plate Adams, Gray fanned Zunino to leave the sacks full. Adams started the frame by reaching on an error by third baseman Esposito and Moyer singled into right field. Pigott moved his teammates over with a grounder and Fontana was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one down. Gray struck out Smith but then hit Tucker to score Adams and narrow the Gators’ deficit to two runs. The right-hander rebounded to set down Zunino looking on strikes.
When play resumed on Saturday, the Gators sent junior Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) to the mound to replace Randall, who gave up eight hits and four runs (two earned) over five innings. The southpaw needed eight pitches to set down the Commodores in order.
Florida used a two-run homer by Fontana in the seventh to even the game at 4-4. For Vanderbilt, freshman T.J. Pecoraro took over for Gray (6.0 IP, 2 R, 4 K, 2 BB) and yielded a leadoff single to redshirt sophomore Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.). After Pigott went down swinging on strikes, Fontana cranked a game-tying two-run dinger over the right-field bleachers. It was his third homer of the season and second in league play. Pecoraro had Smith fly out to center field and was replaced by sophomore Corey Williams, who had Tucker fly out.
In the bottom of the stanza, Panteliodis walked Gomez and a wild pitch moved the runner into scoring position. The lefty fanned Westlake and junior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) was summoned from the bullpen. The reliever had Esposito fly out to left, but Gomez hustled over to third base on the play. Rodriguez became the third pitcher of the inning and whiffed Yastrzemski to send the game to the eighth tied. Williams recorded the first two outs in the eighth and sophomore Will Clinard took over on the hill and had Maddox fly out to straightaway center field.
The Commodores held a 10-7 advantage in hits and each squad committed one error. In a matchup of left-handers in game two, Johnson (7-2, 2.53) will face junior Grayson Garvin (10-1, 2.15). 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.