Barber Homer Lifts Gators

Trailing 6-4 with two down in the eighth, Florida used a game-tying pinch-hit home run by senior Bryson Barber and a go-ahead round-tripper by senior Brandon McArthur to notch an 8-6 victory over No. 13 Vanderbilt on Thursday night at McKethan Stadium.

The Gators (32-20/15-13 SEC) were 0-14 when behind after seven innings this season. Senior Josh Edmondson (4-3) tossed 1.2 scoreless innings to secure the win.

"We have been fighting to get a win like that and to do it against a team like Vanderbilt in such an important series is huge," head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "For it to happen with Barber and McArthur making such important plays was great because those two seniors have given us everything we've asked for. It couldn't have happened to two better guys."

"Billy (Bullock) gave us a good start and kept us in the ballgame," O'Sullivan continued. "When situations happen like in the eighth inning, we need to make sure that when we get to those type of counts and need to put those guys away. Finishes like these aren't always going to happen for us but, overall, I was pleased with Billy's performance tonight."

"When we have been down late in the game in the past, we may have looked like we didn't really want to continue to play," said McArthur. "We know how important this series is and this team wasn't going to let that happen."

The Gators jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning with four hits off sophomore Mike Minor. Junior Avery Barnes (4-for-5, two runs) led off with a single on the ninth pitch of his at bat and scored on McArthur's fourth triple. Freshman Josh Adams roped a one-out RBI single to score McArthur and sophomore Matt den Dekker extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a base-hit through the right side. Minor worked out of the jam by having senior Jon Townsend ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Barnes connected on a two-out double in the second to put Florida up by a 3-0 count. Sophomore Buddy Munroe legged out a two-bagger and came home on Barnes' 11th double into the right-field corner.

The Commodores tied the game with a three-run fifth against sophomore Billy Bullock. Sophomore Andrew Giobbi opened the frame with a double and scored from second when McArthur committed an error on freshman Steven Liddle's grounder. After senior Alex Feinberg followed with a single, senior Brad French laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners into scoring position. Senior David Macias pulled the visitors within a run on an RBI grounder and senior Dominic de la Osa reached on an infield hit to short to square the contest.

In the bottom of the inning, Figueroa provided UF with a 4-3 lead by belting his team-leading eighth homer with two down. He connected on a 3-2 pitch and drove it just short of the left-field bleachers. Soon after, VU senior Shea Robin bashed his fourth round-tripper of the campaign with one down in the sixth for a 4-4 stalemate.

Sophomore Drew Hayes replaced Minor (6.0 IP, 10 H, 4 R) prior to the home part of the seventh and issued a two-out walk to sophomore Cole Figueroa. A wild pitch and a throwing error by Robin enabled Figueroa to take third and Adams earned a free pass for runners on the corners. Freshman Richie Goodenow came in from the bullpen and had den Dekker's grounder force Adams at second to preserve the tie.

Alvarez roped his 11th double to straightaway center field in the eighth to give Vandy a 5-4 lead. de la Osa started things off with a walk and Alvarez's hit eluded a dive by den Dekker. Sophomore Tony Davis took over for Bullock (7.0 IP, 7 H, 6 K, 6 R, 4 ER) and yielded a sac bunt by junior Ryan Flaherty that pushed Alvarez to third. Robin drove in his teammate with a grounder off Edmondson for a 6-4 margin.

Florida tied the game with a dramatic two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the inning by Barber off rookie Russell Brewer (4-2). Sophomore Clayton Pisani had drawn a one-out walk and Barber slammed a 1-0 pitch that ricocheted off the right-field foul pole to knot the game at 6-6. It was his fifth four-bagger. Soon after, Barnes delivered his fourth hit of the contest to set the stage for McArthur. The senior launched his second homer of the year to left center on Brewer's initial offering to provide the Orange and Blue with a two-run cushion. Sophomore Tony Davis Florida out-hit the Commodores, 13-9, with its top three hitters a combined 8-for-14. de la Osa and Robin each had two hits for Vanderbilt. Junior southpaw Stephen Locke (4-2, 2.99) will start Friday's game two at 6:30 p.m. against VU right-hander Caleb Cotham (7-3, 3.28).

Courtesy UF Sports Information

Fightin Gators Top Stories