Gators fall to North Florida, 15-8

North Florida used a seven-run first inning and a 16-hit offensive outburst to hand Florida a 15-8 setback on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium. After the Gators closed to within 10-8 in the sixth on a two-run homer by senior Austin Pride (Longwood, Fla.), the Ospreys plated five unearned runs with two down in the seventh to seal the victory. Senior Andrew Stilley (1-2) threw two innings to collect the victory, while classmate Renzo Sheppard struck out a career-high eight batters over four hitless innings to register his first career save.

The Ospreys sent 11 batters to the plate and jumped out to a 7-0 lead with five hits and three walks in the first stanza. Freshman T.J. Thompson drew a leadoff walk, sophomore Brian Wilson singled to right field and freshman Mycal Jones punched a base-hit to fill the sacks against freshman Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.) (0-2). Senior Jon Dandridge walked on four pitches to score Thompson and senior Jimmy Glanville ripped a two-run double for a 3-0 margin. After Franklin (3 H, 6 R, 3 BB) issued a free pass to freshman Preston Hale that re-loaded the bases, he was replaced by junior Josh Edmondson (LaGrange, Ga.). Junior Chad Knight greeted the reliever with an RBI single into left and senior James Belyea’s fielder’s choice forced Glanville at home for the first out. However, an errant relay down to first base on the play by sophomore catcher Cody Neer (Orlando, Fla.) allowed Hale to score the fifth run. Edmondson caught freshman Trey Leonard on strikes and Thompson ripped a two-run double to give UNF a seven-run advantage.

Florida countered with two runs on two hits and an error in the bottom of the frame for a 7-2 score. Freshman Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) started things off with a single off freshman Ryan McCoy and sophomore Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) walked before Pride delivered an RBI single to left field. A fielding error on the play left runners on second and third and Neer was hit to load the bases with none out. A free pass to junior Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) resulted in UF’s second run and the Ospreys turned a double play on freshman Jonathan Pigott’s (Ormond Beach, Fla.) line drive to right field when Dandridge gunned down Pride at the plate. Senior Chris Petrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) walked to load the bases again with two out and freshman Clayton Pisani’s (Naples, Fla.) grounder forced Petrie at second.

The Gators closed to within 7-3 in the second on an RBI single by Barnes. Freshman Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) opened with a flare into right and Figueroa walked, prompting a pitching change. Barnes cranked a single off Stilley for runners on the corners and the lefty countered with a strikeout of Pride before having Neer ground into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.

A two-run single by Pisani in the third narrowed the deficit to 7-5. Barber was hit by a pitch and Pigott followed with a single before Petrie’s grounder to first base pushed his teammates into scoring position. Pisani stroked a base-knock up the middle to empty the bases.

The Ospreys answered with three runs on four hits in the fourth to build a 10-5 lead. Jones and Dandridge had consecutive one-out singles and an RBI hit by Glanville ended the night for Edmondson (3.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R). Senior Kris Gawriluk (Deltona, Fla.) walked Hale to load the bases and Knight poked a two-run single into right for a five-run lead for the visitors.

Back-to-back singles by Barnes and Pride in the home part of the fourth prompted a pitching change, as freshman Matt Boyd came in for Stilley (2.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R). The right-hander had Neer tap into a 6-4-3 double play and Barber ground out to work out of the jam.

The Gators added a run in the fifth on a grounder by den Dekker that scored Petrie. The next inning, Barnes legged out an infield hit and Pride followed with his 10th homer to straightaway center field for a 10-8 score. After Neer was hit by a pitch, Sheppard came out of the pen and walked Barber. The reliever bounced back with a strikeout of Petrie and had Pisani hit into an inning-ending double play.

UNF erupted for five unearned runs in the seventh to take a 15-8 lead, courtesy of a two-out, bases-loaded error and a three-run homer by Hale. Thompson laced a one-out single off freshman Kevin Chapman (Coral Springs, Fla.) (1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R) and Wilson welcomed junior Patrick Keating (Harrisburg, Ill.) with a single before Jones walked on four pitches. Keating whiffed Dandridge for the second out and Glanville’s grounder eluded Pisani to bring across a pair of runs. Hale stepped to the dish and belted a three-run shot into the left-field bleachers for his first career round-tripper. 

The Ospreys out-hit UF, 16-11, as six different players chipped in with two hits apiece. Barnes (3-for-4) and Pride (3-for-5, three RBI) paced the Gators. North Florida also turned a season-high five double plays. The Orange and Blue travels to Baton Rouge this weekend for a critical series against LSU (28-21-1/11-12-1 SEC). Florida is currently in sixth place in the race for the SEC Tournament and the Tigers occupy seventh. The opener from Alex Box Stadium will be at 8 p.m. and the contest will be televised on Cox Sports. 

Courtesy UF Sports Info.