Tide Loses Opener In Baseball At Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - No. 23 Florida rallied from a four-run deficit, scoring nine runs in the final two innings, to overtake No. 24 Alabama 11-4 in the SEC series opener at McKethan Stadium on Friday night in Gainesville.



The Gators scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 5-4 lead, capped by senior third baseman Brandon McArthur's two-out, two-run single that scored Avery Barnes and Buddy Munroe. Florida added six runs in the eighth inning against two Crimson Tide relief pitchers.

Florida (16-8, 4-3 SEC) got five hits in the decisive seventh inning, including three straight hits with two outs and two strikes in the count.

After Matt den Dekker popped up to open the inning, Daniel Pigott and Barnes stroked back-to-back singles off UA starter Austin Hyatt to put runners at first and second with one out. Hyatt than struck out UF shortstop Josh Adams for the second out and got ahead of Munroe with two strikes before an RBI double plated Pigott to make the score 4-3.

Sophomore right-hander Nathan Kilcrease replaced Hyatt and quickly got ahead of McArthur before allowing the decisive two-run single to center.

"Hyatt had to come out of the game and we felt good with Kilcrease coming in," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "He didn't make the pitch (to McArthur). We did everything we could, even bringing in guys out of the pen. We didn't get the job done again."

Hyatt (4-1) allowed five runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings for his first loss since May 10, 2008, also against the Florida Gators. He struck out a season-high eight batters and walked one.

Florida reliever Clint Franklin (2-0) worked four scoreless innings for the win. Billy Bullock, who stranded the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position in the eighth, worked the final two innings for his sixth save.

Florida blew the game open with six runs in the eighth inning to hand the Tide its worst loss of the season.

The Gators scored five runs off junior right-hander Austin Graham and one run of junior left-hander David Head. Barnes drove in the first run with a ground out and Munroe added an RBI single to push the lead to 7-4. Preston Tucker greeted Head with a three-run double to center and Riley Cooper's RBI triple closed out the scoring.

Alabama (16-8, 2-4 SEC) scored single runs in the first four innings to take a 4-0 lead, but a couple of costly base running mistakes and three double plays kept the score close.

"We came out of the gates good," Alabama coach Jim Wells said. "They changed pitchers and (Franklin) started throwing the ball in. We could have scored more, but that would not have offset the 11 we gave up."

Freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a leadoff double to center field and scored on Matthes' RBI single to right to give the Tide a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

The Tide scored a run on three hits in the second inning to take a 2-0 lead. Senior DH Tyler Odle and junior third baseman Jake Smith led off the inning with back-to-back doubles, but Odle only made it to third base after holding up at second base on Smith's double off the left field wall. Dugas followed with an RBI single to give the Tide a two-run lead.

Ross Wilson's fourth home run of the season put the Tide up 3-0 in the third inning. Smith's seventh home run of the year gave the Tide a 4-0 lead in the fourth.

The Tide chased Florida starter Jeff Barfield in the fourth inning. The SEC's ERA leader was touched for four runs and nine hits in three-plus innings, with one strikeout and one walk. He entered the game with a league-best 1.17 ERA, but saw that number jump to 2.42 after his outing against Alabama.

Florida manufactured a run in the bottom of the fifth inning to cut the lead to 4-1.. Clayton Pisani opened the inning with a bloop single to left and stole second base, Pisani then moved to third on Matt den Dekker's ground out and scored on Daniel Pigott's sacrifice fly to left.

The Gators added another run in the sixth to cut the lead to 4-2. Buddy Munroe reached on a leadoff single and moved to third on Preston Tucker's double to right. Riley Cooper's first career sacrifice fly scored Munroe.

Alabama and Florida meet in game two of the series on Saturday, March 28, at 3:07 p.m. (CDT). The game will be televised by FSN Florida. A pair of freshman left-handers will pitch on Saturday, with Adam Morgan (3-1, 3.10 ERA) matching up against Florida's Nick Maronde (1-1, 21.4 ERA).

GAME NOTES:

*Freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas (Lafayette, La.) went 2-for-5 with one run, one double and one RBI in the game to extend his hitting streak to 14 games.

*Alabama hit two home runs in the series opener at Florida and has now hit 49 home runs in 24 games this year. The 49 home runs are the most after 24 games in the Jim Wells era. The 1998 team held the previous record with 48 home runs in 24 games, while the 1997 team hit 44 homers in 24 games.

*Alabama hit into a season-high three doubles plays in Friday's opener against Florida. Junior first baseman Brandon May hit into two double plays, while Dugas hit into one double play in the game.

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