Gators Stay Alive in Hoover

Faced with elimination, the Florida Gators bats and pitchers came alive Thursday afternoon and finished off SEC third-seeded Ole Miss, 12-2, in a game that was called in the eighth inning due to the 10-run-rule. Florida was led by junior right fielder Jonathan Pigott's two home runs and four RBI on the day. The Gators will play again on Friday at 4 p.m.

The Gators victory keeps their SEC tournament hopes alive as they send the Rebels back home to await their fate for the NCAA tournament seedings that will be announced on Monday.

Pigott and the Gators had 15 hits and scored in six different innings of the eight they batted in. The Gators got strong performances at the plate from freshman first baseman Preston Tucker who went 3-for-5 and drove in three runs. Senior left fielder Avery Barnes went 2-for-4 with two RBI, scoring twice. Junior catcher Buddy Munroe was 2-for-3 with a two RBI on a single.

Pigott struggled early in the season but Florida Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan saw his star right fielder make adjustments and work to make himself better this season.

"He is one of those players that brings a smile to you face when we plays well," O'Sullivan said. "He did have a tough go at it early on, but it never affected his work-ethic. It actually made him work a little harder. I know what his work process is, and it is - when I do get an opportunity to play, I am going to be ready. That is exactly what happened today."

Freshman pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (6-3) allowed only two runs in 5.2 innings. He scattered five hits, struck out three and only walked one batter in the contest.

"This is a big game...I was a little bit nervous, but I just tried to keep doing what I have been doing," DeSclafani said. "I tried to make good pitches when it counted and to give my offense some chances to score some runs."

Pigott started the scoring onslaught for Florida with a one out shot in the first inning. The home run was his first since May 1. Ole Miss scored one in the bottom of the first to tie the game. The Rebels took a brief lead in the bottom of the second on a single by right fielder David Phillips scoring freshman designated hitter Matt Snyder. Neither team scored in the third. From there it was all Gators.

Tucker had his team leading 12th home run of the season to lead off the fourth inning. His 77 RBI this season leaves him just three shy of the school record 80 set by Ryan Shealy in 2002. The Gators had five hits and scored two runs in the fifth led by Tucker's run-scoring double. Pigott got three RBI from a home run in the sixth after junior center fielder Matt den Dekker singled to lead off the inning and advanced on a bunt to second base. Barnes walked with two outs which led to Pigott's blast.

With two batters on and two outs in the sixth inning, O'Sullivan went to the bullpen ending a good day of pitching by DeSclafani. Senior Patrick Keating was brought in who forced a ground out to end the inning and the possible big inning by the Rebels.

The Gators scored two more in the seventh and eighth led by Munroe's two-run single into center field with two outs in the seventh.

O'Sullivan was happy with the performance against college baseball's seventh ranked team in the country.

"We obviously played a lot better today than we did yesterday," the Gator coach said. "It all started on the mound and we played defense. We had one error. Anthony DeSclafani gave us a great start and Jonathan Pigott gave us an early lead. Any time you play a game like we did yesterday, it is good to jump out to a lead against a really good Ole Miss team."

Florida plays at 4 p.m. Friday against the the loser of the Georgia -Arkansas game played later Thursday. The loser of that game will head home while the winner advances to Saturday.

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