Uf Drops Opener in Lexington

No. 17 Kentucky used a five-run eighth to hand No. 24 Florida an 11-7 setback on Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The Gators had overcome a 6-0 deficit and taken a 7-6 lead in the seventh on a two-run homer by sophomore Matt den Dekker before the Wildcats erupted for five runs on four hits and a crucial UF error against junior Stephen Locke (2-2) to capture game one of the series.

Senior Andrew Albers (6-1) threw four innings out of the bullpen to earn the win, while senior Sawyer Carroll (3-for-4) drove in a career-high five RBI. Returning to action for the first time since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament on April 2, senior Brandon McArthur went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs for UF.

The Wildcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on a three-run homer by Carroll. Sophomore Keenan Wiley had led off with a single into right field off sophomore Billy Bullock and moved to second on a wild pitch before junior Collin Cowgill drew a walk. Carroll then blasted his 12th round-tripper deep to right field to open the scoring.

The Gators loaded the bases with one out in the second against junior left-hander Chris Rusin, as senior Dustin Bamberg, den Dekker and McArthur each singled. Rusin rebounded to strike out sophomore Jonathan Pigott and had sophomore Buddy Munroe ground out to end the threat.

In the bottom of the frame, UK tacked on a sacrifice fly by Carroll for a 4-0 margin. Sophomore Marcus Nidiffer walked to begin the stanza and freshman Chris Bisson reached on a throwing error by senior third baseman Jon Townsend. A sac bunt by Wiley moved his teammates into scoring position, Cowgill earned a free pass to load the sacks and Carroll lofted a fly ball into left that scored Nidiffer.

Another sac fly in the third by Nidiffer put the Wildcats ahead, 5-0. Senior Ryan Wilkes started things off with a single through the left side and senior Tyler Howe doubled into the right-field corner. Bullock had freshman Chris Wade fly out to left and Nidiffer followed with his fourth sac fly to bring across Wilkes.

UF loaded the bases again in the fourth, courtesy of a leadoff base-hit by Bamberg, McArthur's second single of the game and a hit by pitch to Pigott. However, Rusin induced an inning-ending 5-2-3 double play on a grounder from sophomore pinch hitter Hampton Tignor to keep the Gators off the board.

A wild pitch from Bullock with two down in the fifth enabled Cowgill to score the hosts' sixth run. Cowgill was plunked with one out, stole second and advanced to third on a grounder by Carroll.

Florida countered with five runs on four hits in the fifth to close the gap to 6-5. Junior Avery Barnes legged out an infield hit, went to second on an errant pickoff throw by Rusin and scored on a base-knock into right by Townsend. Figueroa followed with a bunt single and freshman Josh Adams drew a walk to load the sacks. After Bamberg lined out to third, den Dekker was hit by a pitch to plate Townsend. McArthur delivered a two-run single into right center for a 6-4 score and chased Rusin (4.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R) from the game. Sophomore Clayton Pisani greeted senior reliever Brock Baber with a sac fly to dead center to reduce UF's deficit to a run.

After issuing a leadoff walk to Howe in the fifth, Bullock (4.0 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 BB) was replaced by sophomore Clint Franklin. Wade laid down a bunt to move his teammate into scoring position and the right-hander set down the next two batters.

Back-to-back one-out singles by Cowgill and Carroll in the six Franklin's time on the hill. Over 1.1 innings, the righty allowed two hits but kept the Wildcats scoreless. On his initial pitch, sophomore Tony Davis had Spear ground into a 5-4-3 double play that ended the frame.

The Gators used a two-run homer by den Dekker off Albers to grab a 7-6 lead in the seventh. Bamberg had reached on a one-out fielding error by Bisson and den Dekker deposited his sixth dinger of the year over the wall in right center. Kentucky tried to answer in the home part of the inning, when Wilkes led off with a base-hit into right and moved to second on a bunt by Howe. Senior Josh Edmondson replaced Davis and battled back from a 3-0 count to fan Wade and had Nidiffer pop out.

Kentucky exploded for five runs on four hits and a damaging error in the eighth with Locke pitching to secure the victory. After the southpaw yielded consecutive one-out singles to Wiley and Cowgill, Carroll bashed a double off the wall in center for his fifth RBI to tie the game. Spear was walked intentionally to load the bases and Townsend misplayed Wilkes' potential double play grounder that allowed UK to reclaim the lead. Howe notched an RBI grounder for a 9-7 UK advantage and Wade stroked a two-run single up the middle to finalize the 11-7 margin.

Helped by their late outburst, the Wildcats had a 12-11 advantage in hits. Carroll and Wilkes tallied three hits apiece, while Cowgill and Wiley chipped in with two apiece. Besides McArthur, Bamberg, den Dekker and Townsend registered multi-hit outings for the Orange and Blue. Florida will send junior righty Patrick Keating (6-0, 2.45) to the mound Saturday at 7 p.m. against sophomore left-hander James Paxton (3-1, 2.76).

Courtesy UF Sports Information

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