No. 7 Florida Claims Series with Saturday Win
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Freshman Austin Maddox doubled twice and hit his team-high 11th home run of the season in his first three at bats of the game - each to lead off an inning - powering the No. 7 Florida Gators to a 6-3 win over No. 30 Kentucky, clinching the series win, on Saturday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (21-14, 4-10 Southeastern Conference) got a multi-hit night from sophomore Andy Burns, including a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth inning, with Burns getting one of the two RBI for the Wildcats. Gunner Glad, Chad Wright, Marcus Nidiffer and Cory Farris each posted hits for the Wildcats with Wright recording the other RBI and extending his hitting streak to a team-high eight games. Nidiffer and Burns have now hit in five consecutive games, with Burns' homer coming as his club-best 11th of the season.
The Wildcats left a total of 14 runners on base in the game, equaling a season-high for runners left on base. UK left 14 runners on base in a 14-13 walk-off win against Monmouth in San Diego during the third week of the season.
UK starter Taylor Rogers gave UK a strong 6.2 innings of work, allowing eight hits, four earned runs while striking out four. The native of Littleton, Colo., did a great job of controlling the bottom of the strike zone, getting 11 groundouts in the game. Rogers picked up the loss to move to 4-4 on the season. Replacing Rogers on the mound was freshman Braden Kapteyn who threw 2.1 innings, allowing two runs on two hits while striking out one and walking one. The UK staff allowed Florida to lead off five innings with extra-base hits, including two homers and two doubles, with Maddox contributing the two doubles and one of the homers. Overall, UF had its leadoff hitter reach base in six of nine innings.
Florida (25-9, 10-4 SEC) used five pitchers in the game, starting with freshman Hudson Randall who lasted three innings, allowing three hits, two runs, five walks and two strikeouts. Randall was replaced on the mound by Greg Larsen who threw a solid 3.2 innings for the Gators. Larsen (2-1), who hit two batters, allowed no runs on no hits while striking out three and walking two. Lexington, Ky., native Nick Maronde threw a scoreless inning in relief, pitching for the second straight night. Maronde allowed only one hit in the outing and was replaced by Jeff Barfield who got the final out of the eighth. Kevin Chapman came in to start the ninth, finishing off the win for UF. Chapman did allow two hits in the game, including the solo homer by Burns.
The series will conclude Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Fans can hear the game live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM. Both teams have yet to announce a starting pitcher.
Florida got on the board first in the game, scoring an RBI single from senior Matt den Dekker. The inning started when Maddox sent a laser double into the left-centerfield gap, advancing to third on the sacrifice bunt from Jonathan Pigott. Den Dekker then hit a line drive over the head of Bisson into right-centerfield to score Maddox and give the Gators a 1-0 lead.
Kentucky tied the game at one in the bottom of the second inning when Randall walked Wright with the bases loaded, the third consecutive walk of the inning for Randall. With one out, Nidiffer reached on a hit by pitch but was out at second on Farris' fielder's choice. With one out and a runner at first, Farris stole second and third to get into scoring position. Randall then walked Black, Bisson and Wright to tie the game.
The tie only lasted a few pitches as Mike Zunino hit a monster leadoff homer off the left-centerfield scoreboard to give UF a 2-1 lead. The laser shot from Zunino landed almost halfway up the scoreboard for a no-doubt blast, his second of the season.
Maddox added a solo shot to leadoff the fourth inning before Kentucky would rally in the bottom of the inning. The Wildcats loaded the bases with no outs after Farris hit a routine single to left field but stretched it into a double on great hustle rounding first. Randall then hit Black with a pitch and walked Bisson to load the bases for Wright, removing Randall from the game for Larson to face Wright. The native of Paducah, Ky., scored a run on a double play to cut the UF lead to one. The inning ended when Glad grounded out to short.
Florida loaded the bases in the sixth inning when Maddox led off with a double off the right field wall, advancing to third on the sac bunt by Jonathon Pigott who reached first when Rogers failed to get the out at third. After an error on Rogers, who misplayed a bunt in front of the plate, den Dekker reached first, loading the bases with one out. Rogers would get out of the jam when Rogers struck out Adams and got Zunio to fly out to right.
The Gators tacked on an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning when Jonathan Pigott hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right field. The inning started with a double by Nolan Fontana who advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, bringing up Preston Tucker with one out and a runner on third. Tucker delivered with a sac-fly to right, scoring Pigott.
In the ninth inning, UF got two runs on a two-run blast from Tucker for his third RBI of the game. The inning started with Kapteyn getting two quick outs, but after a bunt single by Daniel Pigott, Tucker sent a line-drive shot well over the right field wall to give UF a four run lead.
Burns cut the lead to three in the bottom of the ninth inning with a leadoff shot off the top of the scoreboard. Kentucky would get what looked to be a single by Wiley on a high chopper to second but first base umpire Ray Miller called Wiley out at first. UK head coach Gary Henderson came out to argue the call but walked to the dugout after the conversation. After a base hit from Nidiffer, Henderson came back out to talk to Miller again, getting ejected for the first time in his baseball career. Chapman then got Neiko Johnson out to end the game.