UK Baseball

Florida leaves Cats stranded, frustrated

Florida's 6-3 victory over Kentucky proved to be a case of opportunity lost for the Wildcats.

A wind-chilled crowd of 2,363 at Cliff Hagan Stadium saw UK match its season high for runners left on base, 14.

"We've got to show up and get a two-out RBI," said UK Coach Gary Henderson, who drew the first ejection of his career with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. "We've got to get a base hit with somebody on, when it really matters."

The Gators, having won the series opener 10-8 Friday night, will try for the three-game sweep Sunday at 1 p.m.

After Florida's Preston Tucker smacked a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to give the Gators a 6-2 lead, Andy Burns led off the bottom of the inning with a solo shot off the top of the scoreboard.

One out later, Keenan Wiley thought he had beat out a high chopper to second base. A replay appeared to confirm that. Henderson argued the call, but retreated.

When Marcus Nidiffer followed with a single up the middle, Henderson spoke up again. This time, first-base umpire Ray Miller gave him the heave-ho.

"Oh, sure," Henderson said when asked if his ejection was warranted. "Absolutely."

What really got to him was his team's lack of clutch hitting.

UK totaled just six hits. Florida helped the Cats along, though, with seven walks, four hit batters, a wild pitch and a passed ball.

The Cats left runners on base in every inning. They left the bases loaded in the second and seventh innings, and stranded two in the first inning.

Florida (25-9, 10-4 Southeastern Conference) collected 10 hits, including three homers and three doubles. Mike Zunino and Austin Maddox led off the third and fourth innings with homers, and Tucker put on the finishing touch with his ninth-inning shot.

UK freshman left-hander Taylor Rogers (4-4) battled well, despite giving up leadoff hits in six consecutive innings.

Braden Kapteyn, who worked the final 21⁄3 innings, made his only big mistake to Tucker.

"We just didn't show up at the plate," Henderson said of his Cats (21-14, 4-10).

Greg Larson (2-1) got the win with 32⁄3 innings of no-hit relief.

Nick Maronde, the lefty out of Lexington Catholic, also worked a scoreless inning. He came in with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh and struck out pinch hitter Michael Williams.

"I felt good," Maronde said. "It's good to get out here and play back at home. I knew what I had to do ... and got it done."

Jeff Barfield and Kevin Chapman followed Maronde to the mound.

Maddox led Florida's hit parade with his homer and a pair of doubles, scoring twice. Zunino had two hits.

The Gators left seven men on base.

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