Saturday May 5, 2012No. 6 Kentucky Salvages Finale Against No. 5 UF Baseball, 2-1
Sophomore Corey Littrell carried a shutout into the ninth inning and sophomore closer Trevor Gott stranded the tying run on second base to complete the contest as No. 6 Kentucky (37-11/15-9 SEC) edged No. 5 Florida (35-13/14-10 SEC), 2-1, on Saturday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The Gators had claimed the first two outings of the series, 5-3 on Thursday and 5-1 on Friday.
A two-out RBI single by sophomore Matt Reida off junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) (5-4) broke a scoreless tie in the fifth and the Wildcats capitalized on a pair of Gator errors in the eighth to carry a 2-0 lead into the ninth. After Littrell (7-0) surrendered a leadoff homer to senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-4) that brought the Gators within a run, Gott was summoned from the bullpen. The righty struck out freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) and freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) (3-for-4) singled into right field. Senior pinch hitter Jeff Moyer (Winter Springs, Fla.) fouled out to the catcher for the second out and Gott was later charged with a balk that moved Shafer into scoring position. However, the reliever had an infield fly by junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) close the game to record his ninth save. Although the Gators enjoyed a 10-7 advantage in hits, they left nine runners on base.
After Littrell retired the first two batters of the game, senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-4) doubled to center field for his 12th two-bagger of the year. In the first inning of the series, Tucker homered on Thursday and had an RBI single on Friday. Littrell had junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) ground out.
Johnson (2-for-4) helped his own cause with a leadoff single through the right side in the second inning and Shafer roped a two-out double off the wall in center field. However, Littrell had junior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) ground out to strand the runners.
Freshman A.J. Reed poked a one-out single off the wall overlooking right field in the bottom of the frame and Johnson had senior Michael Williams line into an inning-ending double play started by Turgeon.
In the fourth, Pigott roped a single with one down into right center and swiped second base to move into scoring position. Turgeon advanced Pigott to third with a grounder but Littrell had Shafer fly out to right field to keep the contest scoreless.
Freshman Austin Cousino (2-for-4) began the home part of the inning with a base-hit up the middle and went to second on a wild pitch. Junior Zac Zellers pushed Cousino to third with a sacrifice bunt and Johnson had junior Luke Maile fly out to shallow right field and senior Thomas McCarthy go down swinging on strikes.
Ramjit began the fifth with a hard single through the left side of the infield and went to second on a grounder by Fontana. Littrell had freshman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) ground out to third base and Tucker fly out to straightaway center field.
Williams (2-for-3) doubled down the right-field line with one out in the bottom of the inning and sophomore J.T. Riddle followed with a walk for two runners aboard. Junior Brian Adams advanced Williams to third with a fly ball to right field and Reida punched a base-knock into center field to score Williams. Johnson struck out Cousino to hold the deficit at a run.
Johnson tagged a one-out double to right center in the sixth and Littrell had Pigott fly out and Turgeon ground out to preserve the Wildcats’ advantage.
Sophomore Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) took over for Johnson (5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 K, 1 BB) prior to UK’s sixth at bat and struck out the first two batters before having McCarthy fly out.
Shafer started the seventh with a bloop single into left field and Ramjit collected his first sacrifice hit of the season to push his teammate into scoring position. Littrell countered with a strikeout of Fontana and had Tobias ground out.
In the home part of the frame, Williams legged out a single with one down and Adams had a two-out base-hit into center field. Crawford fielded a grounder by Reida and threw out the runner to end the seventh.
Cousino led off the bottom of the eighth with a single into center field and went to second on a fielding error by Pigott. Zellers sacrificed Cousino to third base and a fielding miscue by Tobias enabled Kentucky to take a 2-0 lead. Crawford had McCarthy ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. In three innings of work, Crawford gave up three hits and an unearned run and had a pair of strikeouts.
Pigott opened the ninth with his sixth homer of the campaign to left field to narrow the gap to 2-1 and prompt a pitching change. Over a career-high eight innings, Littrell scattered nine hits and permitted just one run, with five strikeouts and zero walks. Gott struck out Turgeon but Shafer followed with a single into right field. A two-out balk by the reliever moved Shafer to second base but Gott had Fontana pop up to second base to end the game.
Florida returns to action on Tuesday at 7 p.m., when North Florida (26-20/7-12 A-Sun) visits McKethan Stadium. The Gators will host Western Division rival Mississippi State in a three-game set starting on Friday at 7 p.m.