May 2, 2010

Courtesy of Florida

Freshman Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) picked up the victory and belted his first career grand slam and senior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) went 5-for-5 with four RBI and four runs as No. 6 Florida (31-11/15-6 SEC) finished a weekend sweep of No. 9 LSU (32-13/11-10 SEC), 13-6, on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. It was the Gators' first regular-season sweep of the Bayou Bengals since 1996 and just their second over the Tigers in school history.

Florida has now captured five-straight games over top-10 opponents and improved to 23-3 (.885) at home this season. The Gators remain one game back of No. 3 South Carolina (34-9/16-5 SEC) in the league standings since the Gamecocks took the rubber game over Alabama this afternoon in Columbia.

"LSU is a storied program and the defending national champs," head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "I think that any time you win three games against anybody in the SEC, you've got to feel good about it. We played well this weekend and we're starting to gel a little bit. I like the way we're swinging the bat up and down the lineup and the starting pitchers have been amazing."

Johnson (4-2) worked 6.1 innings, giving up nine hits and three runs (two earned), with four strikeouts and zero walks and went 2-for-4 with a career-high four RBI. He was supported by a Gator offense that banged out 16 hits, with all nine starters contributing at least one hit.

den Dekker provided the Gators with a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning with a towering two-run homer to right field off sophomore All-American Matty Ott (1-2), who was making his first career start. Freshman Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) had roped a leadoff double into right center and came home on den Dekker's seventh round-tripper.

"I don't think I've had a 5-for-5 game in my career so it was nice today," den Dekker said. "I was seeing the ball well and our team did a great job all weekend. These wins will help our confidence level."

Freshman Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) (1-for-3, two runs) launched a three-run bomb with two down in the third to give Florida a 5-0 advantage. Ott retired the first two hitters of the frame before den Dekker collected his second hit of the day with a single up the middle. Following a walk to sophomore Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) (1-for-3, three runs), Maddox hammered Ott's next pitch over the wall in left center for his team-leading 13th homer. Nine of the rookie's dingers have come in league play and he now has 50 RBI on the campaign.

LSU used back-to-back two-out doubles in the fourth by junior Leon Landry (3-for-5, two runs) and freshman Alex Edward (2-for-4, two RBI) to get on the board. Landry poked his eighth two-bagger into left center and Edward's third double was just above den Dekker's reach to score his teammate.

Florida answered with five two-out runs in the home part of the inning, highlighted by Johnson's first career grand slam, to build a 10-1 lead. Junior Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) (2-for-4, two runs) had a one-out double to the gap in right center and went to third on a fly ball by Fontana. den Dekker ripped a base-knock into center field to score Adams and give UF a five-run advantage. After den Dekker nabbed his 15th base, Tucker drew his second walk of the afternoon and Maddox was hit to load the bases. Ott (3.2 IP, 8 H, 9 R) was replaced by junior Daniel Bradshaw (1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R), who surrendered a grand slam to Johnson that cleared the fence in left center. It was the freshman's second homer and the Gators' second grand slam of the year, as Maddox connected against Illinois State on March 10.

The Tigers used a two-out RBI single by Edward to pull to within 10-2 in the sixth. Senior Blake Dean reached on a fielding error by Maddox to begin the inning and Johnson retired the next two hitters. Landry sliced a single and Edward followed with a base-hit of his own to drive in Dean. Johnson stranded the pair of runners in scoring position by having sophomore Grant Dozar fly out.

With one down in the seventh, sophomore Mikie Mahtook (3-for-5, two RBI) singled into right field and advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. Sophomore Austin Nola delivered an RBI single for a 10-3 margin and a base-hit by Dean through the right side of the infield prompted a pitching change. Freshman Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) took over for Johnson (6.1 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 K) and induced an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play by junior Micah Gibbs to prevent any further damage.

The Tigers tallied three runs on three hits in the eighth to narrow the gap to 10-6. Landry notched his third hit with a one-out single and a single with two down by Dozar brought in sophomore Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) for Rodriguez (1.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R). The righty walked sophomore Tyler Hanover to fill the bags and uncorked a wild pitch to bring across Landry and advance the runners. Mahtook roped a two-run single into center field to narrow the gap to 10-6 before DeSclafani had a fielder's choice by Nola force Mahtook to end the inning.

UF tacked on three runs on four hits in the eighth off freshman Jordan Rittiner for a 13-6 edge. Adams collected his second double of the afternoon to begin the stanza and scored on den Dekker's fifth hit to give the hosts an 11-6 cushion. den Dekker became the first Gator with five hits in an outing since Adams had five at Auburn on April 11, 2009. den Dekker stole second, went to third on a throwing error by Gibbs and came home on Tucker's 12th double for a six-run advantage. Following a single by freshman Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) that left runners on the corners, junior Bryson Smith (Watkinsville, Ga.) lofted a pinch-hit sacrifice fly to finalize the 13-6 margin.

The Gators return to action on Tuesday by hosting Bethune-Cookman (29-18/15-0 MEAC) at 6:30 p.m. The teams last met in the opening round of the NCAA Gainesville Regional lat May, when UF rallied for three runs in the ninth to post an 8-7 victory.

Game Notes
· Florida has claimed six of seven SEC series this season and emerged victorious in its last five league series for the first time since 2005.
· The Gators batted .390 (39-for-100) over the three games and out-scored the Tigers, 28-14.
· The three-game series drew a season-high 11,833 fans to McKethan Stadium.
· Daniel Pigott extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a third-inning single.
· Matt den Dekker's homer was his first since April 16 at Kentucky and he is one shy of his career high (2008).
· den Dekker is the team's leader with 27 career dingers and 20 multiple-hit games this year.
· Four of Austin Maddox's 13 homers have been of the three-run variety.
· The Florida freshman record for homers is 16, set by Jason Dill in 1998.