Mooney muscles up in Gators’ victory

Florida shortstop Mike Mooney has used his spare time since classes ended at Florida by working on his power stroke. The work appears to have paid off.

Mooney’s 3-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning gave the Gators the lead for good in a 7-4 victory over Jacksonville Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium.

The two home runs Mooney has hit this season won’t find him anywhere near the top of the Southeastern Conference, but they have provided him a personal milestone.

“This is my first season ever with more than one home run, so that’s a change,” Mooney said. “Just one home run every year. We ended up winning by three, so I guess we needed it.”

His head coach, Kevin O’Sullivan, isn’t surprised any more by what Mooney does on the field. Defensively, Mooney has solidified the Gators since his return from a foot injury, but he also maintains the team’s highest on-base percentage at the bottom of the order.

“He’s strong,” O’Sullivan said. “They said he lifted a little later today so he had the lifting muscles a little later in the day! He’s a good hitter. The one thing about Mike is he has quality at-bats. He doesn’t give away at-bats that often and his nose stays right on the ball. His presence has given us a guy at the bottom of the order who’s not an easy out.”

Florida starting pitcher Alex Panteliodis gave the Gators (36-17) four innings, allowing only two runs. He allowed a leadoff single to Alex Martinez to in the second inning, followed by a two-run home run for Chris Connelly for the only runs Panteliodis allowed. He also struck out a career-high six batters. The freshman threw only 50 pitches, leaving him available for the last series of the regular season against Kentucky that begins Thursday and continues Friday (both 6:30 p.m. starts) and concludes Saturday with a 4 p.m. game (note the time change).

“AP gave us a good start other than those two pitches,” O’Sullivan said. “I thought he threw the ball really well … the best he’s thrown all year. His fastball was down and had life. His limit was 50 pitches and it was right on the dot. We figured we’d only get three innings out of him.”

The goal of the game was for the pitching staff to throw effectively but efficiently, leaving all of the arms available to pitch against Kentucky. It wouldn’t have been possible without another tremendous outing by the Florida bullpen.

Patrick Keating threw one scoreless inning. Greg Larson followed with one inning of work, allowing one run. Justin Poovey completed two innings of work where he allowed a run. Billy Bullock closed the game, picking up his 11th save of the season, just two short of the Gator record.

“If you ask teams that have played us, they think that our bullpen is our strength,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve got a lot of options and different looks. We can matchup with lefties. The key to it is Patrick Keating has been starting to throw the ball well. He may end up being one of our starters down the stretch here. He’s got experience and his stuff has been crisp. I’m really encouraged with how he’s throwing the ball.”

The Florida scoring began after Jacksonville scored two runs in the second inning. Josh Adams and Matt den Dekker started the inning with back-to-back singles. Brandon McArthur attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Jacksonville pitcher Chuck Dunlap threw the ball wide of third base, allowing Adams to score and moving den Dekker to third base, while McArthur went to second. Teddy Foster grounded out to score den Dekker and tie the game at 2-2.

After Mooney’s home run in the fourth, The Gators padded their lead in the fifth inning. With two outs, Adams hit a solo home run to right field and den Dekker followed with a double to left field. He scored when McArthur singled to left field, moving the Florida lead to 7-2 after five innings.

O’Sullivan believes his team is hitting its stride at the perfect time, heading into the series against Kentucky with a two-game lead over Georgia.

“Everything is in front of us that we set out to do before the year,” O’Sullivan said. “We wanted to win the SEC East, and it’s right there in front of us. We wanted to have a chance to win the (SEC) regular season, and it’s right there in front of us. We wanted to have a chance to host, and it’s right there in front of us. We wanted to put ourselves in position to be one of the eight national seeds, and it’s right there in front of us. It’s not going to be easy. (Kentucky) might have two of the best starters in the league.”


EAST SEC Pct. GB All Pct.

Florida 17-10 .630 — 36-17 .679

Georgia 15-12 .556 2.0 35-17 .673

South Carolina 14-13 .519 3.0 34-19 .642

Vanderbilt 12-14 .462 4.5 31-21 .596

Kentucky 11-16 .407 6.0 27-24 .529

Tennessee 8-19 .296 9.0 23-29 .442

WEST SEC Pct. GB All Pct.

Louisiana State 18-9 .667 — 39-14 .736

Alabama 17-9 .654 0.5 36-15 .706

Mississippi 17-10 .630 1.0 37-15 .712

Arkansas 14-12 .538 3.5 32-17 .653

Auburn 9-18 .333 9.0 29-24 .547

Mississippi State 8-18 .308 9.5 24-27 .471


Tuesday, May 12

Florida 7, Jacksonville 4

South Carolina 6-9, South Carolina Upstate 3-2

Mississippi State 6, Memphis 5

Georgia 7, Georgia Tech 5

Auburn 8, Georgia Southern 6

Kentucky 18, Morehead State 10

Tennessee 5, Middle Tennessee State 4

Louisiana State 12, Centenary 4

Alabama 8, Jacksonville State 4

Arkansas 3, Oral Roberts 2

Thursday, May 14

Kentucky at Florida, 6:30 p.m.  (FSN)

Georgia at South Carolina, 7 p.m.

Tennessee at Vanderbilt, 7 p.m.

Alabama at Auburn, 7 p.m.

Louisiana State at Mississippi State, 7:30 p.m.

Mississippi at Arkansas, 7:35 p.m.

Friday, May 15

Kentucky at Florida, 6:30 p.m.

Georgia at South Carolina, 7 p.m.

Tennessee at Vanderbilt, 7 p.m.

Alabama at Auburn, 7 p.m.

Louisiana State at Mississippi State, 7:30 p.m.

Mississippi at Arkansas, 7:35 p.m.

Saturday, May 16

Kentucky at Florida, 4 p.m. (time change) (SUN)

Georgia at South Carolina, 1 p.m.

Tennessee at Vanderbilt, 1 p.m.

Louisiana State at Mississippi State, 3 p.m.

Mississippi at Arkansas, 3 p.m.

Alabama at Auburn, 4 p.m.


At Regions Park, Hoover, Ala.

Wednesday, May 20

Game 1: No. 7 seed vs. No. 2 seed, 11 a.m. (CSS)

Game 2: No. 6 seed vs. No. 3 seed, 2:30 p.m. (CSS)

Game 3: No. 8 seed vs. No. 1 seed, 6 p.m. (CSS)

Game 4: No. 5 seed vs. No. 4 seed, 9:30 p.m. (CSS)

Thursday, May 21

Game 5: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 11 a.m. (CSS)

Game 6: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 2:30 p.m. (CSS)

Game 7: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 6 p.m. (CSS)

Game 8: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 9:30 p.m. (CSS)

Friday, May 22

Game 9: Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 7, 4 p.m. (FSN)

Game 10: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 8, 7:30 p.m. (FSN)

Saturday, May 23

Game 11: Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 9, 11 a.m. (FSN)

Game 12: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 10, 2:30 p.m. (FSN)

Game 13: Winner Game 11 vs. Loser Game 11, 6 p.m. (Game 13 will be necessary if Winner of Game 9 also wins Game 11)

Game 14: Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 12, 9:30 p.m. (Game 14 will be necessary if winner of Game 10 also wins Game 12. If Game 13 is not necessary, Game 15 will start at 6 p.m.)

Sunday, May 24

Game 15: Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 14, 4 p.m. (FSN)

Note: If both bracket winners are undefeated, there will be no Game 13 and Game 14 and the championship game would be Game 13.


As of Monday, May 11

1. Louisiana State-x

2. Florida-x

3. Alabama-x

4. Mississippi-x

5. Georgia-x

6. Arkansas-x

7. South Carolina-x

8. Vanderbilt

9. Kentucky

10. Auburn-y

11. Mississippi State-y

12. Tennessee-y

x-clinched tournament berth

y-eliminated from tournament


REGIONALS (May 29-June 1)

Various campus sites


Various campus sites


At Omaha, Neb.