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CBB Spotlight Series: Florida wins 10-4

No. 23 Florida (2-0) clinched its weekend series with a 10-4 triumph over eighth-ranked Louisville (0-2) on Saturday afternoon in front of 3,483 fans at McKethan Stadium. Freshman left-hander Alex Panteliodis (Tampa, Fla.) captured his collegiate debut by working six innings and allowing two runs, senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) smacked a three-run double as part of a five-run fourth and sophomore Riley Cooper (Clearwater, Fla.) was 2-for-4 with a couple of two-baggers. UF also capitalized on being hit seven times and the Cardinals committed four errors.

“Alex (Panteliodis) threw well and settled in after the early home run,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He did what I expected him to do: compete and keep us in the game. Louisville is a very successful team that strikes early in the count and Alex had a phenomenal game.”

“We had good patience at the plate today,” continued the second-year skipper. “While we were also very patient last year, this is something that we as a program take pride in. We took advantage of the circumstances with the walks and hit by pitches and turned them into runs.”

After Panteliodis retired the initial batter of the game on his first collegiate pitch, sophomore Josh Richmond (3-for-4) touched up the southpaw for a homer into the left-field bleachers to give Louisville the early advantage.

The Gators evened the score in the bottom of the frame on an RBI double by junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.). Senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) had drawn a leadoff walk from sophomore lefty Dean Kiekhefer (0-1) and came all the way around on the two-bagger to left field. However, Louisville cut down den Dekker attempting to take third on a bang-bang relay from sophomore outfielder Phil Wunderlich to senior catcher Kyle Cheesebrough to senior third baseman Chris Dominguez.

The Cardinals mounted a two-out threat in the third, as senior John Dao and Richmond collected consecutive singles. Panteliodis induced an inning-ending grounder by junior Andrew Clark, who was 3-for-4 yesterday, to keep the 1-1 stalemate.

A pair of Louisville errors with two down in the home part of the inning enabled the Gators to seize a 3-1 advantage. Kiekhefer set down the first two hitters but then plunked den Dekker, the first of three times on the afternoon that the junior was struck. A throwing miscue on a grounder from sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville , Fla.) by shortstop Dao enabled den Dekker to reach second and McArthur walked on four pitches to fill the sacks. Freshman Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) hit a grounder to second that eluded junior Adam Duvall, allowing both den Dekker and Adams to score.

Dominguez walked and swiped second to begin the fourth before right fielder Cooper robbed Wunderlich of a home run by reaching over the wall to snare the fly ball. After Dominguez tagged on the play, the Cards narrowed the gap to 3-2 on a sacrifice fly by Duvall.

“If the ball gets out of Riley’s reach, it could have been a whole different game since the score would have been tied,” O’Sullivan acknowledged. “Riley is a very good athlete and not only that, he is also a great teammate, leader and is very fun to watch.”

The hosts exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fourth for an 8-2 margin, highlighted by a bases-clearing double by McArthur. Cooper sliced a leadoff double into left, senior Teddy Foster (Jacksonville, Fla.) was hit by a pitch and junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) drew a free pass to fill the bags. Kiekhefer grazed Barnes to allow Cooper to come across, causing a pitching change. Over 3.0 innings, the southpaw yielded two hits, seven runs (five earned), with four walks and three hit batsmen.

Senior reliever Gavin Logsdon fielded a grounder by den Dekker and threw Foster out at the dish for the first out before walking Adams with the bases loaded for a 5-2 count. McArthur stepped in and ripped a 3-2 offering from the left-hander into deep center to drive in three runs, giving him a team-high five RBI on the young season.

UF expanded its margin to 10-2 in the sixth on an RBI single by Adams and a grounder by Tucker. Barnes started things off with an infield hit and occupied second on a throwing error by Dao. den Dekker was hit again, giving the Orange and Blue two runners aboard, and Adams brought across Barnes with a sharp single to third. After McArthur collected the Gators’ fifth HBP of the afternoon, Tucker hit into a 4-6-3 double play that allowed den Dekker to come home.

Panteliodis left after six full innings in which he scattered five hits and gave up two runs. He was the first freshman Gator left-hander to claim his first start since J.K. LaCoste accomplished the feat in a 20-4 drubbing of Cincinnati on Feb. 12, 2006.

“I was a little shaky to start out, giving up that early home run, but I just had to forget it and start getting ahead in the count and go from there,” said Panteliodis. “I had faith in my teammates and our offense to come back. It was my first start but I was relaxed for the most part. I had a lot of fly balls, but an out is an out. It was good to get my first win and hopefully I have plenty more to come during my career.”

In the seventh, UF freshman righty Will Jolin (Guilford, Conn.) was greeted by a single from Cheesebrough and a two-run homer by senior Alex Lowrey to left which finalized the 10-4 margin. Sophomore LHP Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) made his first appearance since May 25, 2007 by pitching a scoreless eighth and rookie right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (Freehold, N.J.) recorded the final three outs to close the contest.

Louisville out-hit the Gators, 10-8, led by Richmond and Wunderlich (2-for-3). Cooper and Tucker had two hits apiece for Florida, which had all nine starters reach base at least once. Freshman southpaw Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.) will start tomorrow’s finale at noon against UL junior righty Matt Lea, who was a perfect 5-0 with a 2.72 earned run average last year.

Game Notes
· Alex Panteliodis became the first freshman southpaw to start for the Orange and Blue since current junior Tony Davis took the mound against South Carolina in an elimination game of the 2007 SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala.
· Matt den Dekker tied the single-game school record by being hit three times, last matched by Riley Cooper at South Carolina on May 2, 2008.
· Brandon McArthur extended his streak of reaching base safely to seven games dating back to last year.
· Avery Barnes has scored a run in 18 of his last 19 regular-season games. Both he and Matt den Dekker scored three runs apiece this afternoon.
· Josh Adams (1-for-4, two runs, two RBI) has crossed the plate in four-straight games dating back to last year.
· Florida defeated a ranked non-conference opponent in back-to-back games for the first time since defeating No. 1 Florida State, 5-4, on April 18, 2007 (Tallahassee) and 16-7 on April 3, 2007 (Jacksonville).
· The two wins were the first back-to-back wins for UF against a ranked non-conference opponent at home since the Gators defeated No. 5 Miami by scores of 7-2 and 7-5 on Feb. 16 and 17, 2007.
· Florida’s win today marked the sixth time in the past eight seasons that the Gators have opened up their campaign by winning their first two games.

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