Friday May 6, 2005Baseball Drops Opener To No. 19 Arkansas, 4-1
No. 19 Arkansas (34-13/10-12 SEC) used a brilliant pitching performance by freshman Nick Schmidt to hand fourth-ranked Florida a 4-1 defeat in front of 7,602 fans at Baum Stadium on Friday night. The southpaw (7-1) scattered seven hits and recorded seven strikeouts en route to his first career complete game. The Gators (31-14/14-8 SEC) suffered their season-high third loss in a row and saw their Eastern Division and SEC lead narrowed to a half-game over Tennessee (33-14/13-8 SEC) since the Vols held off South Carolina, 3-2.
The Gators put two runners aboard in the top of the first against Schmidt but came away empty-handed. Senior Jeff Corsaletti (Port Charlotte, Fla.) reached on an error to start the game and was erased at second on a fielderís choice by sophomore Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.). A single into shallow center by sophomore Adam Davis (Fort Myers, Fla.) advanced Dickey into scoring position before Schmidt retired sophomores Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.) and Brian Leclerc (Clearwater, Fla.).
The Razorbacks totaled three hits against junior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) (5-3) in the bottom of the inning but managed just one run. Junior Craig Gentry led off with a double into left center and moved to third on a grounder by freshman Clint Arnold. Sophomore Danny Hamblinís infield single brought across his teammate with the opening run and freshman Brian Walker delivered a double down the right-field line to give the Hogs a pair of runners in scoring position. Ball buckled down to strike out both senior Scott Hode and senior Clay Goodwin to hold the deficit at 1-0.
Arkansas extended its lead to 3-0 in the fourth on a couple of two-out hits. Ball issued a walk with one down to junior Chris Hollensworth and set down sophomore Blake Parker on a fly out to center. Freshman Ben Tschepikow, the Hogsí ninth batter in the order, roped the right-handerís next pitch for his second two-bagger of the season and ninth RBI to plate Hollensworth. Following a free pass to Gentry, Arnold sliced Ballís initial offering into left to put the hosts ahead by three runs.
Florida broke into the scoring column in the fifth on a two-out RBI single into left by Corsaletti. Freshman Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) and sophomore Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) had delivered consecutive singles for the Gators to start the inning. Schmidt answered by striking out junior Justin Tordi (Orlando, Fla.) before junior Stephen Bartonís (Miami, Fla.) forced Jeroloman at second. Corsaletti ended a 0-for-12 drought by punching Schmidtís 2-2 pitch into left to put UF on the board. The southpaw had Dickey loft a fly ball to center to end the frame.
Davis led off the sixth with a base-hit to center and LaPorta flew out to the warning track just shy of the 400-foot mark on a full count for the first out. Soon after, Davis was erased in a run-down on a botched stolen-base attempt and Schmidt induced a groundout by Leclerc to prevent a potential Gator rally. Arnold began UAís seventh with a single into right center and Hamblin popped out to end the evening for Ball (6.1 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 5 K, 2 BB). Sophomore Steven Porter (Ocoee, Fla.) whiffed the lone batter he faced, Walker, before yielding to senior Connor Falkenbach (Parkland, Fla.). The sidearm specialist picked Arnold off first to close the inning.
The Hogs tallied an insurance run in the eighth on a suicide squeeze by sophomore pinch hitter Stephen Robison that boosted their lead to 4-1. Hode singled to right to start the stanza and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Goodwin. Falkenbach committed a balk to allow the runner to occupy third and then hit Hollensworth to give the Hogs runners on the corners. Robinson pushed a bunt up the first-base line as Hode came racing home. A wild pitch advanced Hollensworth to third and the righty walked Tschepikow before having Gentry ground out.
Arnold, Hamblin and Tschepikow had two hits apiece for Arkansas, while Davis went 2-for-4 for UF. Florida will send junior Alan Horne (Marianna, Fla.) (5-2, 4.71) to the hill tomorrow at 4 p.m. against UA freshman Shaun Siebert (5-1, 2.84). Horne has claimed his last four outings and is 4-1 with a 4.62 earned run average in seven SEC starts.