April 2, 2010

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CBI Live
Florida squeaks by Vanderbilt, 3-2

By Jimmy Jones

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com

(photos by Jimmy Jones)


GAINESVILLE, Fla.----It promised to be a classic pitching duel backed by outstanding defense when 19th-ranked Vanderbilt's Sonny Gray (left) and Alex Panteliodis of the No. 9 Florida Gators hooked up in a key SEC match-up on Friday night at McKethan Stadium at Perry Field.


The Commodores (4-3, 23-5) got on the board early on an Andrew Giobbi single to lead off the second inning followed by a Connor Harrell base hit with one man down.


Right fielder Joe Loftus worked Panteliodis (5-1) for a walk, the first he issued, to load the bases and freshman Anthony Gomez hit a fly ball to center field to allow Giobbi to tag and score without a throw. It was Gomez' 12th run batted in of the season.


Gray (4-2) cruised through the Gator lineup until trouble presented itself in the form of Matt den Dekker, who singled with two outs in the fifth and advanced to second on a walk by Preston Tucker.


Cleanup hitter Austin Maddox (right) picked up his 34th RBI of the year with a single up the middle to plate den Dekker to tie the game at 1-1.


The score remained tied until Vanderbilt threatened in the seventh on the strength of a leadoff double by Joe Loftus. Gomez sacrificed him to third. Bryan Johns, hitting .388 for the season, pinch-hit for Mike Yastrzemski.


Gator coach Kevin O'Sullivan called on Jeff Barfield to relieve Panteliodis and the right-hander made the move look good by inducing a weak fly ball to center field that was not deep enough for the runner to tag and advance.


The threat ended when Brian Harris hit a ground ball to Florida second baseman Josh Adams, who fielded it cleanly for the third out of the inning.


The Gators (5-2, 19-5) made the Commodores pay in their next at-bat when freshman leadoff hitter Nolan Fontana reached via a walk, the fifth issued by Gray, a career high for the sophomore, prompting Commodore coach Tim Corbin to call on southpaw specialist Richie Goodenow to face the left-handed hitting den Dekker.


Den Dekker (left), who entered the game with five straight multiple hit games, launched the first pitch he saw deep into the night but the ball curved foul to the disappointment of the 4,093 fans in attendance.


They weren't disappointed for long as the Pittsburgh Pirate draftee crushed a 3-1 pitch over the palm trees in right field to give his team a 3-1 advantage.


Vanderbilt battled back to cut the lead to 3-2 in the eighth on back-to-back doubles by Andrew Giobbi and Aaron Westlake. Westlake's bid to tie the game was just short as his drive to left center hit the wall just short of the yellow line.


The Commodores weren't about to go down easy in the ninth despite reliever Kevin Chapman retiring the first two batters in short order.


Pinch-hitter Drew Fann singled on a 2-2 count and Brian Harris chased him to second with a single to right.


Once again the Gators pitching shut the door as Chapman struck out Riley Reynolds to end the game and earn his fifth save.


Florida was led by den Dekker with two hits to extend his streak to six games with more than one hit. Maddox contributed two hits as well.


Giobbi led the VU offense with three hits in as many at bats with two runs scored out of the four hole. Harris added two knocks to the cause.


Goodenow picked up the loss, his first of the year for the Dores.


Barfield earned the win with 1.1 innings of work. He allowed one hit and one earned run.


The two teams hook up again on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET. The game will be televised via Sun Sports with Taylor Hill (3-1, 2.55) taking the mound for Vanderbilt and Brian Johnson (2-1, 3.42) throwing for the Gators.