May 2, 2009

Junior reliever Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) retired all six batters he faced as No. 17 Florida (32-14/14-8 SEC) edged No. 6 Georgia (33-13/14-8 SEC), 7-6, on Saturday afternoon at sold-out Foley Field. The victory moved the Gators into a first-place tie in the Eastern Division with the Bulldogs.

Bullock registered his ninth save in relief of freshman starter Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) (5-1). Weather permitting, the teams will resume Friday night's suspended game, which is knotted at nine runs apiece with one down in the bottom of the ninth inning and a UGA runner on first base.

Eight of Florida's nine starters contributed a hit in the win, while senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville , Fla.) (1-for-4) and junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) (2-for-4, two RBI) each homered. UF held a 10-7 advantage in hits, with Georgia using the long ball from Bryce Massanari (1-for-3, two RBI) and junior Joey Lewis (1-for-3, two RBI).

Foster provided the Gators with a quick lead with a two-out solo homer in the second inning off junior Alex McRee (4-1). It was his fifth round-tripper and cleared the short porch in right field. McRee's first five outs of the game came via strikeouts.

Munroe belted a two-run shot with two down in the fourth to give Florida a 3-0 advantage. Senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) had lined a one-out single just beyond the reach of junior first baseman Rich Poythress and Munroe sent his fifth homer of the year to straightaway center field after McRee made Foster his career-best eighth strikeout victim.

The Bulldogs countered with three runs on three hits in the bottom of the inning to even the contest, highlighted by a two-run homer from Massanari. DeSclafani had faced the minimum of 10 batters before permitting a one-out single in the fourth to freshman Colby May. The righty had Poythress fly out to right field before Massanari sent a 1-0 offering over the wall in right for his 16th dinger. After Lewis drew a walk, sophomore Lyle Allen roped a double into left center that scored his teammate all the way from first base. Junior shortstop Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) fired a perfect strike to the plate ahead of the runner but Munroe could not handle the throw.

Senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) (2-for-5, two runs) led off the fifth with a bunt single and stole second base with two down. A wild pitch by McRee advanced Barnes to third and sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) was awaiting a 3-2 pitch before the game was delayed at 2:32 p.m. because of steady rain. After a 33-minute delay, McRee uncorked a wild pitch that enabled Barnes to score and Adams took second base on the play as a result of his walk and heads-up base-running. Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) laid down a bunt in between first and second base and dove headfirst into first to beat the throw, scoring Adams in the process for a 5-3 lead. Freshman Michael Palazzone was summoned from the bullpen to replace McRee, who gave up seven hits and five runs (four earned) over 4.2 innings, with eight K and two walks. Although McArthur earned a free pass from Palazzone for two runners aboard, Foster went down swinging to end the stanza.

Florida added two more runs in the sixth to build a 7-3 lead. Mooney drew a one-out walk and Barnes notched his SEC-leading sixth three-bagger just inside of the right-field line to score his teammate all the way from first base. Freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) came through with a two-out RBI single through the right side of the infield for a four-run cushion and swiped second base to move into scoring position. Adams flew out to right to end the inning.

Lewis bashed a two-run homer with two down in the bottom of the frame for a 7-5 score, ending the afternoon for DeSclafani (5.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 K). Poythress had singled to right center with one out and DeSclafani registered a key strikeout of Massanari. However, Lewis launched his 14th round-tripper to left center after fouling off several two-strike pitches to bring the Bulldogs within two runs. Junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) came in and Barnes robbed Allen of potential extra bases with a leaping grab against the left-field wall.

McArthur walked with one out in the seventh and freshman pinch runner Jerico Weitzel (Ridgway, Pa.) stole second base. Palazzone (2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 5 K, 3 BB) fanned Foster and was replaced by senior Will Harvil, who had Munroe fly out in foul territory.

Georgia had the bases loaded with none out in the seventh but managed just one run on a sacrifice fly by May to trim the deficit to 7-6. Freshman Peter Verdin began the inning with a Texas Leaguer into center field and Davis plunked freshman Levi Hyams for two Bulldogs on base. Junior Michael Demperio greeted freshman Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) with a bunt single up the third-base line that resulted in the bases being loaded with none out. Freshman Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) struck out junior Matt Cerione and May lofted a sacrifice fly into right to bring the hosts within a run. The southpaw rebounded to have the SEC's top hitter, Poythress, pop up to Adams at second base.

Maronde issued a leadoff walk to Massanari in the eighth and Bullock was called in from the pen. The right-hander set down the next two Georgia hitters, Lewis and Allen, on flyouts and had a fielder's choice by Verdin force Massanari at second base for the final out of the inning. Bullock put the Bulldogs down in order to close the contest, punctuated by a game-ending punchout of Cerione.