More To McKethan Than Beach Bums

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Bare-chested men, bikini tops and palmetto trees lining the back side of the right field fence give Florida's McKethan Stadium a bit of a beach atmosphere.

And even though Gainesville is in the middle of a pennisula, there's also Osprey, seagull-like birds, nested atop a few light poles surrounding the field.

"When they go to the bathroom, it covers two rows," said Mark McCleod, senior columnist for the web site Gator Country.

The tropical ambiance isn't the only reason McKethan is considered among the top college baseball stadiums in the country.

There's team mascot Al E. Gator leading cheers, blue Gator scales covering the fence plus views of the O'Connell Center and Ben Hill Griffin Stadium past left field. There's also a public address announcer who's always on time with artifical sounds such as Homer Simpson's voice saying "Doh!" whenever a fan misses a foul ball and baseball-savvy fans who call every pitcher "Earl," since that apparently was the name of a pitcher they successfully rattled with heckling a few years ago.

In-game promotions also are clever, whether it's the "Dance for your dinner contest," or "Let's Make A Deal," where one fan received a round of laughs after winning a roll of toilet paper. One of the crowd favorites is exclusive to Sundays when one youngster tabbed "Junior Announcer" calls a half inning of the game over the P.A. system.

Renovations are ongoing at McKethan Stadium even though attendance was down this weekend due to spring break. A $13-million expansion down the left-field line that will provide additional seating and a baseball-specific building that will include a training facility, video room, offices, locker rooms, a bullpen/batting cage building and an upper deck overlooking the playing field is scheduled for completion this summer.

It will nearly double the stadium's capacity from 3,685 to 6,700 seats.



Doubling Down

Arkansas leadoff man Craig Gentry stretched three singles into doubles with his hustle and blazing speed during the series, including two in Sunday's 8-7 Florida win. None of the hits appeared to be doubles off the bat, but Gentry seemed to catch Florida's defense off guard each time as he turned on the jets rounding first base.

"Gentry makes those doubles from the first step. He runs hard from the get-go and that's what you've got to do," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "He knows how to run and turn it up where he's not taking extra steps and to have good base running skills with his quickness and speed is just amazing.

"A lot of times, the outfielder thinks he's going to throw this guy out and Gentry ends up standing up with a double."

After entering the weekend with a .357 batting average, the senior from Fort Smith Christian went 3-for-4 on Sunday and 6-for-12 in the series to increase his average to .400.



Top Plays

After Gentry robbed a homer on Saturday, the Razorbacks' outfielders continued their stellar play Sunday as they came up with two highlight-reel worthy catches.

The first was in the first inning when right fielder Jake Dugger ducked his head and sprinted to the fence before turning to find the ball and making an over-the-shoulder catch on a line drive that would have been off the wall by Brian Jerolman.

The second came in the seventh when left fielder Clint Arnold made a sliding catch in the Hogs' bullpen in foul territory on a high pop-up by Brandon MacArthur.


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