Friday April 27, 2012No. 2 UF Baseball Edges No. 17 Arkansas, 3-2, To Claim Series Opener
No. 2 Florida (33-10/12-7 SEC) rallied from a 2-0 deficit with a three-run sixth inning and its bullpen worked three scoreless innings in a 3-2 victory over No. 17 Arkansas (29-13/9-10 SEC) on Friday night at McKethan Stadium in the opener of the teams’ weekend series. After being held hitless into the sixth by Razorback sophomore Ryne Stanek (6-3), the Gators tied the game on a two-out, two-run double by freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) and seized the lead on an RBI single by junior Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.).
Making his first Friday start since March 30 at Ole Miss, junior right-hander Hudson Randall (Atlanta, Ga.) (4-1) yielded six hits and two runs over six innings to pick up the win, while the trio of senior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.), junior Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) and Maddox each tossed a scoreless frame. For Maddox, it was his 12th save in 12 opportunities, moving him to within one save of the school’s single-season record shared by Danny Wheeler (1994) and Josh Fogg (1998).
“You have to tip your cap to [Ryne] Stanek,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He was outstanding and left us hitless through five innings. I wasn’t quite sure when our offense was going to get going, and that had a lot to do with him on the mound. His stuff was really good tonight, but, equally I thought Hudson Randall was really good tonight. He gave us a great start and obviously our bullpen came in and did what they needed to do. We hung in there and battled and that was the most important thing.”
In the second inning, Maddox drew a two-out walk from Stanek and went to second on a wild pitch before senior Jeff Moyer (Winter Springs, Fla.) followed with a free pass. The right-hander ended the inning by having a fielder’s choice by freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) force Moyer at second base.
Sophomore Jake Wise (2-for-3) opened the third with a flare into right center field and went to second on a grounder by redshirt senior Tim Carver. Randall had junior Jacob Mahan ground out, pushing Wise to third, and then plunked sophomore Dominic Ficociello for runners on the corners with two down. Randall had junior Matt Reynolds ground out to third baseman Moyer to complete the frame.
Arkansas seized a 1-0 lead in the fourth on a one-out RBI single by senior Bo Bigham (3-for-4), Senior Sam Bates walked to start the inning and advanced to second on a grounder by junior Derrick Bleeker. Bigham punched a single into left field that brought across Bates with the game’s opening run. Junior catcher Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) gunned down Bigham attempting to steal second base and Randall struck out redshirt sophomore Jacob Morris to end the inning.
Senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) was hit by Stanek with one down in the bottom of the inning, his team-leading seventh time hit this season. A wild pitch enabled Pigott to take second base and Turgeon pushed his teammate to third with a grounder. However, Stanek had Maddox ground out to third base to keep the Gators scoreless.
Wise began the fifth with a double to left field and Randall had Carver ground out and Mahan fly out. With Ficociello at the plate, Randall uncorked a wild pitch that scored Wise from second base for a 2-0 lead for the visitors.
Reynolds (2-for-4) had a leadoff single in the sixth and Randall induced a 4-6-3 double play by Bates and fanned Bleeker to close the inning.
The Gators used a two-run, two-out double by Turgeon and an RBI single by Maddox in the home part of the sixth to grab a 3-2 lead. Senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) came through with the Gators’ first hit off Stanek with a single to begin the stanza. The righty had Zunino fly out to left field and had a fielder’s choice by Johnson erase Tucker at second base before Pigott singled up the middle for runners on first and third. After Turgeon roped a double into the gap in right center to score both of his teammates and stole third base, Maddox put Florida on top with a base-hit into left field. Junior Cade Lynch replaced Stanek (5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K) and had an inning-ending pop-up by freshman pinch hitter Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.), who was making his first plate appearance since March 23 at South Carolina.
“Hitting is one of those things I’ve been working on all year,” Maddox said. “I did my best to help this team win. I just had to stay positive. I knew eventually that I would get my chance to hit. I took that chance and did the best I could with it. I’m all about this team and I just want to win.”
Larson came in prior to the seventh for Randall, who gave up six hits and two runs, with three strikeouts and a walk. Bigham greeted the reliever with a single into right field and was sacrificed into scoring position by Morris. Larson struck out Morris and a wild pitch allowed Bigham to reach third base before Larson caught Carver looking on strikes.
After a scoreless seventh by Larson, Rodriguez battled back from a 3-0 count to strike out Mahan to begin the eighth. The southpaw had Ficociello ground out and Reynolds extended the inning with a single through the left side of the infield. Rodriguez struck out Bates to preserve the one-run lead for the Gators.
In the home part of the eighth, junior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) led off with a base-hit up the middle and was moved over on a bunt by Pigott. Turgeon was hit by a pitch from Lynch (1.2 IP, 1 H) and sophomore Colby Suggs was called in from the bullpen. The Gators attempted a double steal but Ramjit was thrown out at third base for the second out. With Turgeon perched at second, Suggs had Maddox ground out.
Maddox took over on the hill in the ninth and Ramjit made a sprawling catch on a foul pop-up by Bleeker for the first out. Maddox had Bigham line out and then had redshirt sophomore pinch hitter Jimmy Bosco fly out to center field to end the game. Arkansas held an 8-5 advantage in hits and neither team committed any errors. Junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (5-2, 4.04) will start tomorrow’s second game of the series at 7 p.m. against a Razorback pitcher to be announced.
· Florida improved to 4-3 in SEC series openers this season.
· The series is now tied at 24 wins apiece.
· The Gators snapped a five-game losing streak to Arkansas in series openers dating back to a 6-3 win on March 17, 2006.
· Senior Preston Tucker extended his hitting streak to nine games with a single in the sixth inning.
· Freshman Casey Turgeon had his seventh double and seven theft of the year tonight.
· Senior Jeff Moyer made his first start of league play at third base.
· The Gators boosted their record at McKethan Stadium to 23-5 this spring.
· Junior Hudson Randall picked up his 23rd career win.