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Sunday March 16, 2014Arkansas Salvages Finale At Florida, 9-3

Gainesville, Fla.

Arkansas (9-7/1-2 SEC) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning en route to a 9-3 victory over Florida (13-7/2-1 SEC) on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. The Gators had been seeking their first sweep of the Hogs since 2001 after taking the first two games of the series by scores of 2-1 and 1-0. UF’s season-high seven-game winning streak was snapped with the defeat.


Arkansas opened the scoring in the first inning against freshman southpaw A.J. Puk (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) (1-2) on a sacrifice fly by junior Brian Anderson (1-for-2, three RBI) that brought home freshman Andrew Benintendi (1-for-4, three runs). Benintendi had led off the game by reaching second base on a throwing error by freshman first baseman Peter Alonso (Tampa, Fla.), took third on a fly-out by redshirt sophomore Tyler Spoon (1-for-3, three runs) and came home on Anderson’s fly ball into center field.


The Hogs expanded their lead to 4-0 in the second stanza on a leadoff homer by senior Jake Wise (2-for-4) and a two-out, two-run double by Anderson. Wise’s homer to left field was the first allowed in 110 innings by the Gator pitching staff dating back to Feb. 23 in the third game at Miami (FL). Anderson’s two-bagger into left center scored redshirt sophomore Michael Bernal and Spoon, who had each walked.


Junior Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) narrowed the Gators’ deficit to 4-1 in the bottom of the frame with his first sac fly of the campaign. Junior Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) (2-for-4, two runs) had started the inning with a base-hit into right field and reached third on a bunt single by junior Braden Mattson (San Antonio, Texas) (2-for-3) and a throwing error by junior pitcher Chris Oliver.


Arkansas tacked on two more runs in the fourth to build a 6-1 advantage, scoring on a wild pitch by freshman Dane Dunning (Fleming Island, Fla.) (4.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 5 K) and an RBI sacrifice bunt by redshirt freshman Blake Baxendale.


Florida pulled to within 6-3 in the home part of the inning on a bases-loaded, two-run single by Mattson, but Arkansas escaped further damage when junior reliever Jacob Stone (3-0) had freshman Buddy Reed (Finksburg, Md.) ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Sophomore Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) (2-for-4) and Gushue had delivered singles into right field before Alonso walked to fill the bags for Mattson, who drove in two runs with a single to left field. Stone replaced freshman Dominic Taccolini and Shafer laid down a sacrifice bunt to give the Gators two runners in scoring position before junior Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) was hit to re-load the sacks. Stone kept the visitors in front by inducing the double-play ball from Reed.


The Hogs completed the scoring in the ninth with three runs on three hits and a couple of wild pitches. Arkansas held a 9-8 edge in hits and each team committed two errors. 


Postgame Quotes

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan

On today’s performance:

“We won the series; that’s the most important thing. I’m disappointed on how we played today, but it was kind of weird game. I was disappointed in the way we started on the mound; the very first play of the game, they hit a hard ground ball to first base and we don’t cover first, we’re late getting over there, not really into it. We didn’t command the ball as well as we needed to. It was just disappointing; we gave up four runs in the first two (innings), and obviously we need to be better than that.”


“Even with that being said, I felt good about the game. I felt like we were maybe one at-bat of getting right back in this thing. Credit (Arkansas’ RHP Jacob) Stone; I thought he made some big pitches when he needed to. I thought the turning point of the game was, with the bases loaded (in the fourth inning), we had scored two and then Buddy Reed hit a hard ground ball to second that went 4-6-3. I think that was a big at-bat during the game; it was a big pitch by them and I think it got to a 2-0 count and Stone did a nice job getting back in the count.”


“I felt good about our at-bats; I thought we fought right there until the end. I did feel good about our approach and we were into it even when we fell behind.”


Junior catcher Braden Mattson

On the Gators’ performance offensively:  

“I know today we were hitting balls hard all over the yard. They just weren’t doing anything. We haven’t been able to score a ton of runs this weekend, but I feel like that’s something we’re going to work on.”


Sophomore outfielder Harrison Bader

On if the wind was a factor today:

“With fly balls, they carry a little more. Balls down the line might play back into fair territory, so you have to be aware of that. Balls you might get to catch on the warning track might get out. It’s definitely difficult a little bit, but you just adapt to it on the field.”


Sunday Notables:

·         The Gators lost for just the third time in their last seven games against Arkansas.

·         The Gators matched their season high in runs allowed (also Feb. 15 loss vs. Maryland, 9-7)...had not allowed more than 5 runs in any of their previous 9 games. 

·         The six-run loss matched the team's largest margin of defeat this season (also 6-0 loss to Illinois on Feb. 28).


Streak Stopped:

·         The Gators had their season-high seven-game winning streak come to an end...also snapped their six-game home winning streak.

·         Florida lost for just the second time in their last 10 games.


Starting Blocks:

·         Freshman left-hander A.J. Puk made his third start of the year, allowing 4 runs on 5 hits with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts in 2.0 innings pitched.

·         Puk allowed a solo home run to Jake Wise to lead off the was the first homer allowed by the Gators’ pitching staff since Feb. 23 in the third game of their series at Miami.


Season Debut

·         Sophomore Harrison Bader made his first appearance of the season, starting in center field and going 2-for-4...his 4th-inning single extended his hitting streak to 10 games dating back to last season.


At the Plate

·         Freshman right fielder Buddy Reed went 1-for-2 today and hit safely in all three games this series.

·         The Gators’ 3-6 hitters (Bader, Gushue, Alonso and Mattson) accounted for 6 of the team's 7 hits, scored all 3 runs and drove in 2 runs. 

·         Junior Mike Fahrman recorded his first hit of the year with a pinch-hit double to lead off the nintn


In Relief

·         Freshman RHP Dane Dunning set career highs with 4.1 innings in relief and 5K (1 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 HBP)...did not allow a hit over his final 14 batters faced...struck out the side in the 5th inning.

·         Junior RHP Karsten Whitson made his first relief outing if the year, allowing 2 runs on 2 hits with 2 strikeouts in 1.0 inning.


Up Next

The Gators will host No. 2 Florida State (17-2/5-1 ACC) at McKethan Stadium on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the first of the teams’ three regular-season meetings. The game can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozo and Larry Vettel and will be carried on Sun Sports with Nick Belmonte and Mick Hubert.


Follow the Gators

Live stats for each game are available on and fans can also receive updates of each game on @GatorZoneBB, the official Twitter account of the Gator baseball team.


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