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Saturday April 28, 2012No. 17 Arkansas Evens Series Against No. 2 UF Baseball, 5-1

Gainesville, Fla.

A four-run fifth inning powered No. 17 Arkansas (30-13/10-10 SEC) to a 5-1 win over No. 2 Florida (33-11/12-8 SEC) on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium that evened the teams’ weekend series. Tied at a run apiece entering the fifth, the Razorbacks totaled six singles and plated four runs to seize control of the contest. UA sophomore Brandon Moore (4-1) threw five shutout innings, permitting just three hits, to collect the victory.


“It was just a weird game,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We’ve scored in two innings out of 17 innings of play. We hit eight times last night and nine times tonight, so obviously we need to score more runs. I thought Randall Fant did a nice job for Arkansas. He made pitches when he needed to with two outs, and [Brandon] Moore came in and did a really nice job, too. I thought for us, Keenan Kish pitched well. We just didn’t score enough runs; it’s as simple as that.”


The Gators had back-to-back two-out hits off junior left-hander Randall Fant in the first inning, as junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (3-for-4) singled into center field and went to third on single into right field by junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (2-for-4). Fant retired junior Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) on an infield fly to keep the game scoreless.


In the second, UF freshman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) was plunked with two down and junior Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) beat out a bunt single. However, Tobias was thrown out trying to take third on the play on a throw from Fant to junior Matt Reynolds.


Sophomore Dominic Ficociello (2-for-5) provided Arkansas with a 1-0 lead in the third inning with a two-out single into left field off Johnson (5-3). Freshman Joe Serrano ended a stretch of six-straight hitters set down by the southpaw with a one-out single to right field. After redshirt senior Tim Carver was hit by a pitch for two Razorbacks aboard, Johnson struck out junior Jacob Mahan and Ficociello delivered an RBI single that scored Serrano. A throwing error on the relay by junior left fielder Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) enabled the runners to advance into scoring position. Reynolds was walked intentionally to load the bases and Ramjit made a phenomenal diving catch on a ball hit by senior Bo Bigham to save several runs and prevent further trouble.


Florida tied the game in the bottom of the frame on an RBI single by Johnson. Senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) led off by reaching on a fielding error by Ficociello at first base and senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) raised his hitting streak to 10 games with a base-hit up the middle. Johnson tied the game with a one-out, line-drive single that ricocheted off Ficociello, bringing in Pigott. Maddox roped a single up the middle but Tucker was gunned down at the plate on a perfect strike from redshirt sophomore center fielder Jacob Morris to freshman catcher John Clay Reeves. A passed ball allowed Johnson and Maddox to reach third and second, respectively, and Fant had freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) ground out to first base to complete the inning.


Freshman Brian Anderson opened the fourth with his first career double into left field and was sacrificed to third on a bunt by Morris. Johnson struck out Reeves and had Serrano ground out to Dent at shortstop to strand the runner.


Moore replaced Fant (3.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 K) prior to Florida’s fourth at bat and yielded a one-out infield single to Tobias. The right-hander then had Dent bounce into an inning-ending 6-3 double play.


The Razorbacks plated four runs on six hits in the fifth to grab a 5-1 advantage. Carver started the frame with a base-hit into right center and moved to second on a grounder by Mahan. Ficociello singled into left field and an error by senior Jeff Moyer (Winter Springs, Fla.) allowed Carver to come across for a 2-1 lead for the visitors. Ficociello moved into scoring position with a stolen base and scored on an RBI single into left center field by Reynolds. Bigham bunted for a single, pushing Reynolds to third, and Johnson (4.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 6 K) was replaced by senior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.). Redshirt sophomore Jimmy Bosco delivered a pinch-hit RBI single to bring in Reynolds and Tobias caught a pop-up by Morris in foul territory for the second out. Freshman pinch hitter Michael Gunn poked a single up the middle to score Bigham with the fourth run of the frame and Larson had senior pinch hitter Sam Bates ground out.


Sophomore Keenan Kish (Worcester, Pa.) took over for Larson (0.2 IP, 2 H) prior to the sixth and retired the Razorbacks in order on a pop-up, grounder and a strikeout. The right-hander also threw a perfect seventh with a pair of strikeouts and tossed a 1-2-3 eighth with another K to establish a career high with four punch-outs.


Zunino collected his second double of the night with one down in the eighth and went to third on a grounder by Johnson. Moore had Maddox ground out to preserve the four-run lead for the visitors. Kish put up another zero in the ninth for Arkansas and retired all 12 batters he faced over a career-high four innings.


“Tonight, the big thing for me was being able to throw all of my pitches for strikes,” Kish said. “My job was to put up zeros and I did that the best that I could. Every inning, every opportunity for myself, is a chance to grow. It is what you make of it, and you have to be ready to go whenever your name is called upon.”


Sophomore Barrett Astin came in for Moore in the ninth and issued a one-out walk to Moyer before hitting freshman pinch hitter Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.). Freshman pinch hitter Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) flew out to center field and Pigott grounded out to complete the contest. In a matchup of right-handers, sophomore Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) (4-1, 3.86) will start tomorrow’s finale at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN against junior DJ Baxendale (6-2, 3.78).


Game Notes

·         Florida will be playing a deciding third game tomorrow for the sixth-straight series.

·         The Gators are now 23-6 at McKethan Stadium this year.

·         Junior Mike Zunino leads the Orange and Blue with 18 doubles.

·         Freshman third baseman Josh Tobias made his first start at third base since the South Carolina series, while junior Cody Dent had his first start of the year at shortstop

·         Zunino had his 16th multiple-hit game of the season, while junior Brian Johnson had his 12th.

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