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Friday February 24, 2006No. 12 Missouri Defeats No. 1 Baseball, 14-5

Gainesville, FL

No. 12 Missouri (5-2) exploded for 22 hits and 14 runs, more than enough support for junior All-American Max Scherzer in a 14-5 victory over top-ranked Florida (7-2) in The Pepsi Baseball Classic on Friday night at McKethan Stadium. Scherzer (2-0) notched eight strikeouts and limited the Gators to three hits and a run over seven innings. The Tigers were led offensively by the trio of sophomore Jacob Priday (5-for-6, three RBI), senior Zane Taylor (4-for-5, three runs) and senior Trevor Helms (4-for-6, three runs).

 

“I have not been on the end of games like these very often and it’s not something that is acceptable around here,” said UF head coach Pat McMahon. “As games like these unfold, I feel that effort is critical. When you see Florida on the baseball field, you will see everyone giving their best effort for all 54 outs we are out there. It is easy to get down and discouraged but it is a character check for our guys. Missouri has an outstanding club and a great pitcher in (Max) Scherzer.”

 

“We have to give Missouri a lot of credit,” said senior Stephen Barton (Miami, Fla.). “They have a great ball club. We didn’t pitch the way we usually do, and they came out and swung the bat well. But, we played hard and you have to give us credit for not giving up and really playing those nine innings.”

 

The Tigers seized a 2-0 lead in the first inning on consecutive RBI doubles by junior Hunter Mense and Priday. Taylor poked a one-out single off senior Bryan Ball (Punta Gorda, Fla.) and Mense followed with a two-bagger to right center to bring across the first run. Priday smacked a ground-rule double over the wall in center for a two-run advantage before senior Derek Chambers walked on four pitches. Ball retired the next two hitters to prevent further trouble.

 

Mizzou tacked on five more runs in the second on six hits and two Gator errors, chasing Ball (2-1) in the process. Junior Gary Arndt began a run of five straight one-out hits for the Tigers with a single to short. Helms had an infield hit and Arndt was able to take third on a throwing error. Taylor singled through the right side to score Arndt, and Mense stroked a base-hit that brought in Helms. An error on the play allowed Taylor to reach third and Priday’s RBI single increased MU’s margin to 5-0. Mense swiped third base before Ball struck out Chambers. However, junior John McKee ripped a two-run double to clear the bases and end the night for the right-hander. Ball matched his career high by allowing nine hits over 1.2 innings, with seven earned runs and three strikeouts.

 

A solo homer into the left-field bleachers by McKee off junior Kris Gawriluk (Deltona, Fla.) in the fourth brought the margin to 8-0. After Priday reached on an infield hit, the Gators turned a double play on a grounder by Chambers. McKee connected on a 1-2 pitch for his first round-tripper of the season. Gawriluk threw 2.1 innings, surrendering four hits and one run.

 

Barton poked a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning for the first hit against Scherzer. The righty retired the next two hitters before committing a balk to push Barton into scoring position. Scherzer struck out junior Brian Jeroloman (Wellington, Fla.) for his seventh K of the night.     

 

The Tiger offense went back to work in the fifth, tallying four runs on four hits for a 12-0 lead. Arndt started things off with a walk from freshman Matt Hightower (Cartersville, Ga.) and back-to-back singles by Helms and Taylor loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly by Mense was followed by an RBI double down the left-field line by Priday and a two-run single by Chambers for a 12-0 count.

 

The Black and Gold kept up its production in the sixth with two runs on three hits and two UF miscues to build a 14-0 margin. Freshman Chas Spottswood (Key West, Fla.) took over for Hightower (1.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R) and set down the first batter he faced. After Arndt reached on an error, Helms mashed a triple to right center and scored on another Florida throwing mistake. Spottswood scattered four hits over two innings, permitting two runs (one earned) with his first career strikeout.

 

In the bottom of the frame, Barton put the Orange and Blue on the board with a solo shot to right with one down. It was the senior’s first homer since Feb. 15, 2004, a span of 119 games and 312 at bats. The Gators plated two more runs in the eighth against Tiger freshman Rick Zagone. Junior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.) reached on an error and occupied third following a double by junior David Cash (Odessa, Fla.). Sophomore Matt Gaski (Greensboro, N.C.) and senior pinch hitter Greg Quatrino (Tampa, Fla.) delivered consecutive RBI grounders for a 14-3 deficit. With freshman Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) aboard in the ninth after a double, junior Gavin Dickey (Tallahassee, Fla.) smacked his team-leading third homer off senior Nick Admire to finalize the margin at 14-5.

 

Missouri held a 22-7 advantage in hits, as eight of the nine starters chipped in with at least one. The Tigers totaled 14 singles, six doubles, one triple and a homer, while the Gators were paced by Barton (2-for-3). Mizzou had three players drive in three runs: McKee (3-for-5), Mense (2-for-5) and Priday. Florida will face Ohio State tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m., with sophomore Bryan Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) (2-0, 1.80 ERA) opposing Buckeye left-hander Cory Luebke. The game will air live on Sun Sports.

 

Game Notes

  • The opponent has scored first in the last three games at McKethan Stadium.
  • Bryan Ball’s 1.2-inning stint was his shortest since working 1.1 innings at Auburn on April 24, 2005.
  • Tonight was UF’s worst home loss since an 11-1 setback to Villanova on March 4, 2005.
  • Gavin Dickey matched his career high with his third homer of the year.

 

-UF-

 

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