Feb. 22, 2009

Courtesy of Louisville

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Florida shortstop Mike Mooney connected on a two-out RBI single to left field off Louisville reliever Thomas Royse to score the winning run as the 11th-ranked Gators completed a weekend sweep of the Cardinals with a 3-2 victory on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium.

The loss marks the first three-game losing streak in one season for the Cards under the direction of head coach Dan McDonnell and the first three-game series sweep for McDonnell in his three seasons in Louisville. The Cards (0-3) dropped Friday night's season-opener to the Gators 6-3 and fell 10-4 in Saturday's game.

With the game tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Royse opened his second inning of work by striking out the Gators first to hitters. Down to their last out in the inning, the Gators turned to pinch hitter Clayton Pisani, who singled to center field. That was followed by a single through the right side by catcher Buddy Munroe, setting the stage for Mooney. The junior switch-hitter hammered the 1-1 pitch from Royse over the head of leftfielder Nate Holland to plate Pisani from second.

Royse, a sophomore from Lexington, Ky., took the loss in his first outing of the season after giving up one run on three hits in 1 2/3 innings of work. He also struck out four of the eight Gator batters he faced.

With the game tied at 2-2 after the third inning, the Cards had several opportunities to regain the lead before the Gators' winning run in the ninth, including both the eighth and ninth innings, when they had the go-ahead run at third base.

In the eighth inning, freshman shortstop singled to center, advanced to second on a balk by Gator reliever Billy Bullock and advanced to third on a fly out to center by sophomore outfielder Josh Richmond. The Gators then walked both Andrew Clark and Chris Dominguez to load the bases for pinch hitter Kyle Cheesebrough. The senior catcher fell behind in the count 0-2 to Florida reliever Jeff Barfield and struck out swinging to end the rally.
 
In the ninth inning, the Cards got their leadoff guy on as junior second baseman Adam Duvall reached on a fielding error by UF third baseman Josh Adams. Duvall advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore outfielder Adam Haynes and moved to third on a groundout by junior catcher Jeff Arnold. But that's as close as Duvall would get to scoring as Holland flew out to center field to end the Cards' final scoring chance.

Barfield, a junior in his first season with the Gators, was credited with the win for the Gators after allowing no runs on and no hits in 1 1/3 innings of work in his first appearance of the season.

The Cards opened the game with a promising start off UF freshman starter Nick Maronde as Dominguez connected on a single to center field to score Richmond, who had gotten on with a single of his own earlier in the inning to make it 1-0 Cards. Dominguez then advanced to second on a single by sophomore Phil Wunderlich, stole third base without a throw and scored on a single through the left side by Duvall to make it 2-0 Louisville after the first inning.

The Gators (3-0) cut the lead in half at 2-1 in the second inning as outfielder Riley Cooper doubled down the left field line and then scored on a single to right by Munroe off Louisville starter Matt Lea.

UF tied the game at 2-2 an inning later with an unearned run in the third, their fourth unearned run of the weekend. The inning started with Florida leadoff hitter Avery Barnes reaching base on an error by Duvall at second base. Barnes then stole second, advanced to third on a groundout by Matt den Dekker and scored the tying run on an infield single by Adams.

The loss spoiled strong pitching performances from Lea and Louisville reliever Tony Zych. Lea, a junior from Collierville, Tenn., gave up only two runs (one earned) on four hits and struck out four in 4 1/3 innings in his season debut. Zych, a hard-throwing freshman from Chicago, allowed only one hit and struck out three in 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in his collegiate debut on the mound. The two-way player played in Friday's game as a pinch hitter and started Saturday's game going 0-for-4 from the plate as the Cards' DH.

Up next, the Cards will return home for four straight games at Jim Patterson Stadium starting with the 2009 home-opener on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET against Eastern Kentucky. The opener will be followed by a three-game weekend series against Bowling Green, which starts on Friday at 2 p.m. ET.