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CBB Spotlight Series: Florida completes sweep over Louisville

Florida junior Mike Mooney (Loxahatchee, Fla.) delivered a walk-off single with two down in the bottom of the ninth to lift the No. 23 Gators (3-0) to a 3-2 victory over No. 8 Louisville (0-3) and a sweep of the season-opening series on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium in front of 3,094 spectators. With the game deadlocked at two runs apiece and the travel curfew looming, UF staged a two-out rally to secure its first sweep of a Top-10 opponent since taking all three games from No. 10 Ole Miss between March 15-17, 2002.

UL sophomore right-hander Thomas Royse (0-1) struck out the first two Gator hitters in the ninth before yielding a pinch-hit single into center field by junior Clayton Pisani (Naples, Fla.). Facing an 0-2 count, junior Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) sliced a base-hit through the right side of the infield for two runners aboard.

Having gone 0-for-7 in the series, Mooney came through with a clutch single to left field to give the Orange and Blue the dramatic win. Junior reliever Jeff Barfield (Perry, Ga.) registered his first victory with 1.1 scoreless innings and struck out the potential go-ahead Cardinal run with the bases full and two down in the eighth.

“Mike (Mooney) swung the bat well for us in the fall and during the preseason,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He stuck his nose on the ball and took it the other way. I don’t think there’s any question that Mike gets the game ball today and he also played great defensively.”

“I was wondering when my first hit was going to come,” Mooney said. “I figured it would be a good time (to win the game). I went up there looking to get a hit and it worked out this afternoon. It was a great feeling getting mobbed by my teammates after we won.”

Louisville plated two runs on four hits in the first inning against freshman left-hander Nick Maronde (Lexington, Ky.). Sophomore Josh Richmond reached on an infield single and advanced to second on an error during a run-down before junior Andrew Clark flew to left for the second out. After Richmond moved to third on a balk, junior Chris Dominguez sliced an RBI single up the middle. Following a base-hit into left by sophomore Phil Wunderlich, Dominguez swiped third for runners on the corners. Junior Adam Duvall provided the Cardinals with a 2-0 lead on a single through the left side of the infield.

Munroe drove in sophomore Riley Cooper (Clearwater, Fla.) with a two-out single in the second to trim the Gators’ deficit to 2-1. Cooper had delivered his third double in the past two games with a two-bagger down the left-field line off UL junior righty Matt Lea.

Sophomore Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) evened the game in the third with an infield RBI single. Senior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) reached on a fielding error by Duvall at second base to start things off and moved into scoring position with his first stolen base of the campaign. Junior Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) advanced his teammate with a grounder and Adams’ bouncing ball went to deep short and was enough to score the tying run.

UF squandered a prime chance to snap the deadlock in the fifth after Barnes had reached third with one down. Barnes led off by being hit by a pitch, stole second and advanced to third on den Dekker’s fly ball to left. Freshman right-hander Tony Zych was summoned from the bullpen to replace Lea, who allowed four hits, had four strikeouts and an earned run in 4.1 innings. Louisville brought in its infield and when Adams grounded out to third, Barnes was cut down on 5-2-5-1 relay. Although Adams managed to take second on the play, Zych had senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) fly out to right field to end the frame.

Maronde retired the final 14 Louisville hitters he faced before giving way to junior Billy Bullock (Balm, Fla.) with one down in the seventh. In his collegiate debut, the Bluegrass State native surrendered five hits and notched two strikeouts without issuing any walks.

“I thought Nick did a really good job of settling in after giving up four hits and a couple of runs in the first,” O’Sullivan said. “He was throwing strikes; it wasn’t as if he was walking guys. They’re ranked as high as number eight in the country so if you fall behind in the count like he did the first inning, you’re going to give up hits. The thing I was most proud of is how Nick settled down and gave us a chance to win.”

“I wanted to come out and stop them,” Maronde said. “It’s a good feeling that we won because I know a lot of guys on their team. It was a big statement to play a ranked team to start the season and we came out ready to play. We’re coming together, have great chemistry and everyone is playing really well.”

With one down in the eighth, UL freshman Ryan Wright stroked a single into center and took second when Bullock was called for a balk. The righty had Richmond pop out to right field, moving Wright to third base and prompting a pitching change. After junior Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.) walked Clark, O’Sullivan replaced the southpaw with Barfield. The right-hander walked Dominguez to load the bases and worked out of the jam with a three-pitch strikeout of senior pinch hitter Kyle Cheesebrough. In the bottom of the stanza, Royse came in for Zych (2.2 IP, 3 K, 1 H) and set down the side 1-2-3.

Duvall reached on a fielding error by Adams to open the ninth and sophomore Drew Haynes laid down a sacrifice bunt to put his teammate in scoring position. Junior Jeff Arnold grounded out to advance Duvall and then Barfield had sophomore Nate Holland fly out to den Dekker to end the threat and set the stage for a wild finish.

UF held an 8-7 edge in hits, as Munroe went 2-for-4, while seven different players accounted for Louisville’s offense. The Gators will return to action on Tuesday night, when they host Eastern Michigan (2-2) in the opener of a two-game series. First pitch from McKethan Stadium will be at 6:35 p.m.

Game Notes

· Today’s walk-off win was the first for UF since Jon Townsend delivered a two-out, walk-off single in the 11th inning of Florida’s Senior Day 13-12 victory over Vanderbilt on May 17, 2008.

· The sweep for the Gators was the first to start a season over a ranked opponent since 1999, when Florida defeated No. 6 Miami (Fla.) in a two-game series.

· Today’s win marks the second-straight regular season sweep over a ranked team for the Gators. The Orange and Blue swept No. 13 Vanderbilt over May 15-17 last season at McKethan Stadium.

· This weekend’s triumph marked the first sweep over a ranked non-conference opponent since the Gators defeated Miami (Fla.) in Coral Gables in 2006.

· Florida’s win today marked the sixth time in the past eight seasons that the Gators have opened up their campaign by winning every game in its opening series.

· Brandon McArthur extended his streak of reaching base safely to eight games dating back to last year.

· Avery Barnes has scored a run in 19 of his last 20 regular-season games. With two steals, he had the fifth multiple-stolen base game of his career and his first since May 9, 2008, at Alabama.

· Preston Tucker became the first true UF freshman to open up the season with hits in his first three games since Brian Leclerc did so in 2004 against Gardner-Webb (two games) and Miami (Fla.) (one game).

· For the weekend, the Gators were hit by a pitch 11 times. Last year, the Gators did not record its 11th hit batter until the 13th game (vs. Florida Gulf Coast, March 11, 2008).

· Buddy Munroe threw out his first base runner of the season in the top of the second inning and knocked in his first run of the season with a blooper to right in the bottom of the frame second inning. The catcher also swiped a bag in the inning for the first time since May 4, 2008 at South Carolina.

· For the series, Avery Barnes went 3-for-8 (.375) with five runs, two RBI and two stolen bases, Josh Adams went 4-for-11 (.364) with three runs and three RBI, and freshman Preston Tucker was 4-for-12 (.333) with an RBI.

· This weekend marks the first time this decade the Gators went homerless in their season-opening series.

Louisville Recap

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