Florida padded its lead in the ninth. Daniel Pigott reached on a two-out bunt single. Preston Tucker lined a 1-1 pitch over the right-field wall for his fifth homer of the season, making it 6-2 for the Gators. Florida called on LH Kevin Chapman to close out the Cats. Andy Burns jumped on Chapman’s first pitch, driving his 11th homer of the season off the top of the scoreboard. Braden Kapteyn fouled out. Keenan Wiley appeared to beat out a high chopper to second, but was called out. When Marcus Nidiffer singled up the middle, Henderson referred back to the previous play. First base umpire Ray Miller ejected Henderson, the first time that has happened in the coach’s career. Neiko Johnson grounded out. Final score: Florida 6, Kentucky 3.
Neiko Johnson came into the game in right field for UK, batting in the No. 8 slot. Florida’s Matt den Dekker drew a one-out walk, stole second and reached third on a groundout. Josh Adams struck out, then yelled something — apparently to a Kentucky player — and was ejected by plate umpire Fred Cannon. Adams was replaced in the field, second base, by Cody Dent. UK got a two-out single by Chad Wright. Florida made a pitching change, going to RH Jeff Barfield. He got Gunner Glad on a fly to deep center, thus stranding UK’s 13th runner of the game. After eight innings: Florida 4, Kentucky 2.
For the sixth inning in a row, Florida got a leadoff hit, a double down the right-field line for Nolan Fontana. (Five of the six leadoff hits went for extra bases.) Daniel Pigott’s sacrifice bunt advanced Fontana to third. Preston Tucker brought him home with a sacrifice fly to right. UK Coach Gary Henderson then pulled starter Taylor Rogers. Braden Kapteyn, already in the game as the Wildcats’ DH, come on in relief and retired Austin Maddox on a grounder to shortstop. In the bottom of the inning, Kapteyn reached on a two-out fielding error by 3B Bryson Smith. Keenan Wiley walked and Marcus Nidiffer was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Florida Coach Kevin O’Sullivan called to the bullpen for Nick Maronde, the lefty out of Lexington Catholic. UK Coach Gary Henderson countered, sending Michael Williams to bat for Cory Farris. After falling behind 1-2, Williams worked the count full before chasing a pitch down and away. After seven innings: Florida 4, Kentucky 2.
Florida quickly mounted a threat in the sixth. Austin Maddox led off with a double off the right-field wall where the scoreboard was once located, making him 3-for-3. Jonathon Pigott put down a bunt. Pitcher Taylor Rogers tried to get Maddox at third, but his throw was a hair late as Pigott reached first. Matt den Dekker went down swinging. Florida loaded the bases, though, when Rogers was unable to make a clean pickup of Bryson Smith’s check-swing bunt. Rogers caught Josh Adams taking a called third strike, then retired Mike Zunino on a high fly to right. The Wildcats got a runner when Taylor Black was hit by a pitch for the second consecutive at-bat. He advanced no further, though. After six innings: Florida 3, Kentucky 2.
Florida got a leadoff single from Mike Zunino, but he was erased on a 4-6-3 — Chris Bisson-to-Taylor Black-to-Gunner Glad — double play. Daniel Pigott was hit by a pitch, but stranded at first. Andy Burns led off UK’s half of the inning with a walk, reaching safely for his third straight appearance of the night. The Wildcats didn’t do any damage, though, stranding their eighth runner of the game. After five innings: Florida 3, Kentucky 2.
For the second consecutive inning, Florida struck with a leadoff home run to the scoreboard in left-center. This time, Austin Maddox cranked his 11th bomb of the season. Bryson Smith added a two-out single but was stranded. Kentucky used a hustle-double by Cory Farris, a hit batsman (Taylor Black) and a walk (Chris Bisson) to load the bases with nobody out. Florida Coach Kevin O’Sullivan lifted Hudson Randall in favor of RH Greg Larson. Chad Wright grounded to 3B Bryson Smith, who stepped on the bag to force Black, then threw in time to double up Wright at first. Farris scored, though, cutting Florida’s lead to 3-2. Bisson was stranded at second. After four innings: Florida 3, Kentucky 2.
No. 9 hitter Mike Zunino led off the top of the inning with his third homer of the season, to the scoreboard in left-center, to give Florida a 2-1 lead. Wildcats LH Taylor Rogers retired the top of the order 1-2-3. In the bottom of the frame, UK wasted a leadoff single as Andy Burns was picked off. With two outs, Keenan Wiley reached when 2B Josh Adams booted a ground ball, but got no further. That pushed UK’s total runners left on base to six. After three innings: Florida 2, Kentucky 1.
Florida opened the scoring with a run in the top of the second. Austin Maddox knocked a leadoff double to the gap in left-center, then moved on third on Jonathan Pigott’s sacrifice bunt. Matt den Dekker drove Maddox in, lining a single over 2B Chris Bisson. Den Dekker stole second base but was stranded there. In the bottom of the inning, with one out, Marcus Nidiffer was hit by a pitch. He was retired on a fielder’s choice grounder by Cory Farris. Farris stole second and, as Taylor Black drew a walk, Farris swiped third. Chris Bisson also walked, loading the bases for Chad Wright. Gators RH Hudson Randall threw four straight balls, forcing in Farris with the tying run. Gunner Glad grounded to 3B Bryson Smith, who stepped on the bag to force Bisson. After two innings: Kentucky 1, Florida 1.
Kentucky LH Taylor Rogers retired Florida in order on eight pitches, getting two groundouts and a pop foul. In the bottom of the inning, Gunner Glad lined a two-out single, then advanced on a passed ball and a wild pitch. Andy Burns held up on a full-count pitch to draw a walk. Both runners were stranded when Braden Kapteyn flied to center. After one inning: Kentucky 0, Florida 0.
Florida, a 10-8 winner Friday night, is about to take on Kentucky in game two of a three-game Southeastern Conference baseball series at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
FLORIDA (24-9 overall, 9-4 SEC) — SS Nolan Fontana; RF Daniel Pigott; 1B Preston Tucker; DH Austin Maddox; LF Jonathan Pigott; CF Matt den Dekker; 3B Bryson Smith; 2B Josh Adams; C Mike Zunino. Pitching: RH Hudson Randall (3-3, 3.98).
KENTUCKY (21-13, 4-9) — 2B Chris Bisson; LF Chad Wright; 1B Gunner Glad; 3B Andy Burns; DH Braden Kapteyn; CF Keenan Wiley; C Marcus Nidiffer; RF Cory Farris; SS Taylor Black. Pitching: LH Taylor Rogers (4-3, 4.86).
UMPIRES — HP Fred Cannon; 1B Ray Miller; 3B Ricky Armstrong.