Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gators outlast rain, Kentucky for 10-8 win


Florida designated hitter Austin Maddox hit a game-winning seventh-inning home run and the Gators withstood a couple of late Kentucky rallies and a long rain delay to take the opener of their series with the Wildcats 10-8 in Lexington, Ky., Friday night.

Umpires called a rain delay of about 1 ½ hours during the top of the eighth inning. The rain, which had been falling basically all evening, finally let up and allowed play to resume at about 11:05 p.m. ET.

Following the rain, Kentucky trailed 10-6 but made some noise at the plate, scoring twice and getting the tying run to the plate. Chris Bisson’s groundout against Florida closer Kevin Chapman plated Marcus Nidiffer, who was hit by a pitch. Chad Wright’s single to left-center chased home Taylor Black, who had doubled down the left-field line, bringing Kentucky to within 10-8.

But with two runners on and only one out, Chapman struck out Gunner Glad swinging and induced an Andy Burns flyout to escape the jam.

Then, in the ninth, Chapman struck out Braden Kapteyn, Keenan Wiley and Nidiffer 1-2-3, all swinging, to preserve Florida’s victory.

The Gators (No. 9 NCBWA) held a 6-3 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, but Kentucky (No. 30) used a couple of long balls on its way to tying the score. With one out, Nidiffer and Black hit back-to-back shots to center off Florida starter Alex Panteliodis. Then, Chad Wright’s sac fly to deep left scored Michael Williams, who had doubled and taken third on a wild pitch by Gators reliever Nick Maronde.

But Florida (24-9, 9-4 Southeastern Conference) came back with three runs in the top of the seventh to take the lead for good. Maddox lifted a two-out home run to right-center against Wildcats reliever Jordan Cooper, scoring Nolan Fontana, who had walked, and Preston Tucker, who singled. The blast handed the Gators a 9-6 edge.

The Gators plated another run in the eighth before the rain delay. Matt den Dekker led off the inning with a homer to right, not long before the tarp was pulled and play was stopped.

Earlier, Kentucky (21-13, 4-9) drew first blood, touching Florida ace Panteliodis for two runs in the bottom of the second. Burns led off the inning with a homer to right-center, and with two down, Nidiffer went deep to left-center.

Then, in the fourth, Kapteyn’s single plated Burns, who had led off with a double and moved to third on a throwing error on Panteliodis.

But Florida scored five times in the fifth inning off Wildcats starter Logan Darnell to take its first lead. Daniel Pigott led off with a homer to left field. Then, Fontana singled with one out and Kentucky right fielder Glad committed an error, allowing den Dekker, who had singled, and Josh Adams and Mike Zunino, who each walked, to score.

Pigott’s groundout scored Fontana to cap the inning with a 5-3 Gator lead.

Florida tacked on one more in the sixth before the Wildcats’ first rally. Bryson Smith’s sacrifice fly with one down plated Maddox, who had doubled and took third on den Dekker’s sac bunt.

Maddox was 3-for-5 with three RBI to lead the Gators’ attack. Den Dekker went 2-for-3 and Pigott posted a 2-for-5 night. Fontana knocked in two runs.

Jeff Barfield (2-0) got the win for Florida, allowing two runs on one hit over 1 1-3 innings of work. Chapman worked two innings, yielding one walk and one hit with four strikeouts, for his seventh save of the year. Panteliodis went 5 1-3 frames, allowing five runs on eight hits, with three punchouts and a walk.

Nidiffer went 2-for-3, Black was 2-for-4 and Burns posted a 2-for-5 night for Kentucky. Wright and Nidiffer each posted two RBI.

Cooper (1-3) was the pitcher of record for the Wildcats, yielding four runs on three hits in one inning. Darnell lasted six innings and gave up six runs on seven hits, with two walks and three strikeouts.

NOTES: Tucker extended his hitting streak to a team-high eight games. … Florida has won six of nine against the Wildcats and leads the all-time series 126-54-1. … The Gators man second place in the SEC East, trailing South Carolina, which owns a 10-3 conference mark with its 5-0 win over Ole Miss Friday night. Kentucky is tied with Tennessee for fourth place in the conference. The Volunteers downed Mississippi State 15-13 Friday. … The Gators will send freshman right-hander Hudson Randall to the mound Saturday night in search of the series victory. Kentucky will counter with freshman southpaw Taylor Rogers.


Video/audio credit – Big Blue Sports Network

Saturday, April 10, 2010

BC drills Wisconsin 5-0 for second title in three seasons


Boston College entered the Frozen Four as the hottest team in the country. The Eagles will leave Detroit with another national championship.

Sophomore forward Cam Atkinson scored two of the Eagles’ four third-period goals and junior goalie John Muse stopped 20 shots to whitewash Wisconsin 5-0 Saturday night.

The Eagles (29-10-3) end the 2010 season on a 13-game unbeaten streak and claimed their second title in three years and fourth overall. Boston College also got a measure of revenge for the Badgers’ 2-1 conquest of the Eagles in the 2006 final.

Boston College took the lead for good on a power-play goal 12:57 into the game. Senior Ben Smith, the Frozen Four most outstanding player, took passes from Steven Whitney and Joe Whitney and beat Wisconsin tender Scott Gudmandson to his left for a 1-0 edge.

After a scoreless second period, the Eagles broke through for three goals in the first 7 ½ minutes of the third period to blow the game open. With 1:38 gone in the period, Atkinson scored off Joe Whitney’s assist. At the 3:40 mark, Chris Kreider found the net, with helpers credited to Jimmy Hayes and Philip Samuelsson. Finally, with 7:20 elapsed in the third frame, Atkinson scored on another power play, with Brian Gibbons assisting, for a 4-0 Eagles lead.

BC then cashed in an empty-netter for the last goal of the season. Matt Price scored an unassisted, uncontested goal with 4:31 left in the period to go up 5-0.

Gudmandson made 21 saves for the Badgers (28-11-4).

Boston College’s last loss came at Northeastern, falling 3-2 Feb. 19. The Eagles tied New Hampshire March 5. … BC trailed just 55 seconds during its 13-game unbeaten streak. … The Eagles downed Notre Dame for the 2008 title. … Boston College beat Miami (Ohio) 7-1 in the semifinals Thursday, while Wisconsin downed the Rochester Institute of Technology 8-1. … The Eagles lead the all-time series 12-9 and have won four straight meetings with the Badgers. … Wisconsin was seeking its seventh national championship. … Boston College’s seniors finished their careers with a 25-2 postseason record. … This was the Eagles’ fourth final in the last five years. Besides losing to the Badgers in 2006 and beating the Irish in 2008, they lost to Michigan State in 2007.


Video credit – ESPN

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Duke survives Butler for fourth national title, 61-59


The feel-good story of the tournament, hometown Butler, couldn’t have possibly come any closer to winning its first national championship without actually hoisting the trophy.

Instead, the big-boy Duke Blue Devils fended off two potential game-winning shots from Bulldogs star Gordon Hayward in the last five seconds to take home their fourth title.

Duke’s Kyle Singler led all scorers with 19 points and Hayward’s short jumper with 5 seconds to go and half-court heave at the buzzer each hit the rim but just wouldn’t go down, letting the top-seeded Blue Devils escape with a 61-59 win in the tournament title game in Indianapolis Monday night.

With the win, Blue Devils (35-5) coach Mike Krzyzewski joined former UCLA coach John Wooden and Kentucky mentor Adolph Rupp as the only coaches to win four or more national titles.

Trailing 60-55 in the last 2 minutes, No. 5 seed Butler (33-5) came back to the brink of winning the title. Matt Howard, whose status was questionable coming in after sustaining a mild concussion during the Bulldogs’ semifinal win over Michigan State, scored down low twice to cut his team's deficit to 60-59.

Singler then missed a jumper with 38 seconds to go, giving the Bulldogs one more shot. After a Duke deflection and a pair of timeouts, Hayward took an inbounds pass, drove the lane and lofted a rainbow from the right side over the backboard which hit the back iron and fell off into Duke’s Brian Zoubek’s hands.

Zoubek was immediately fouled and hit the first free throw with 3.6 seconds left but missed the second intentionally, setting Hayward and Butler into motion. Hayward snagged the rebound and took off down the right side, hurling a shot from half-court that struck the backboard, came off the front iron and bounded away to end the Bulldogs’ run.

The excitement of the final possessions was a fitting end to a back-and-forth championship game. Duke and Butler traded 3-pointers to close the first half, with Nolan Smith hitting for the Blue Devils and Avery Jukes connecting for the Bulldogs, to make the halftime score 33-32, Duke.

Jon Scheyer scored 15 points and Smith added 13, while Zoubek snagged 11 boards.

Hayward and Shelvin Mack each scored 12 points for Butler. Howard also netted 11.

NOTES: Duke was making its fourth championship game appearance in 12 years. The Blue Devils won the 1991 title in Indianapolis. … Butler’s 25-game winning streak has come to an end. The Bulldogs last lost at UAB Dec. 22. … The Blue Devils have won 13 straight neutral-site games. … Duke ends the season on a 10-game winning streak. … This marked the second time since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1984 that two private schools played for the title, and the fifth time overall. Georgetown and Villanova met in the 1985 championship.


Video credit – CBS

Monday, April 5, 2010

Boston downs defending champ Yanks 9-7 in opener


Coming into the season, much has been made over the Boston Red Sox remaking themselves into a club more focused on pitching, defense and “small ball.”

These may not be the Sox of old, but they showed the rival Yankees Sunday night they can still get it done at the plate.

Dustin Pedroia knocked in three runs, two with a seventh-inning game-tying homer, as the Red Sox came back from a four-run fourth-inning deficit to beat New York 9-7 in Boston in the 2010 season opener.

Trailing 7-5 in the bottom of the seventh, Pedroia and Boston (1-0) tied the game, then turned Yankee miscues into their first lead of the night. Pedroia hit a game-tying one-out home run to left field, plating new shortstop Marco Scutaro, who led off the inning with a single off New York reliever Chan Ho Park.

Kevin Youkilis then touched Park for a two-out double off the Green Monster, bringing Damaso Marte on out of the New York bullpen. Marte promptly threw a wild pitch, allowing Youkilis to take third, and then released another high offering that catcher Jorge Posada couldn’t handle, resulting in a passed ball and the game-winning run in the form of Youkilis.

Boston played tack-on in the eighth against Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain. Mike Cameron, making his first appearance in center field for the Red Sox, singled with one down to center and came home on Pedroia’s two-out single to right, closing the scorebook at 9-7.

Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon came on for the ninth and pitched around a two-out Posada single, retiring new Yankee Curtis Granderson on a groundout to third for the final out.

New York drew first blood against Boston starter Josh Beckett in the second inning with back-to-back jacks. Posada lined a two-out pitch off the left-field foul pole before Granderson hit a shot out to right-center in his first at-bat with New York.

The Red Sox cut their deficit in half in the bottom of the frame. New third baseman Adrian Beltre’s one-out sacrifice fly to the warning track in right scored Youkilis, who had doubled off New York starter C.C. Sabathia.

The Yankees (0-1) came back with a three-run fourth inning. Robinson Cano led off with a double over Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury’s glove off the left-field wall, Nick Swisher drew a two-out walk and Brett Gardner singled the other way to score Cano.

Derek Jeter’s grounder past a diving Scutaro scored Swisher, advancing Gardner to third, before the Yankees gave Boston a little of its own medicine from last season. Jeter took off for second, drawing Boston catcher Victor Martinez’s throw, before Gardner sprinted for the plate, reminiscent of Ellsbury’s straight swipe of home in a Boston win over the Yanks on a Sunday night last April. This double steal resulted in a 5-1 Yankees lead.

Unfazed, Boston scored four runs over the next three innings to even the score. In the fifth, Scutaro’s two-out single to left scored J.D. Drew, who had singled to left. One inning later, Youkilis laced a triple past Swisher into the right-field corner, plating Pedroia, who had walked, and Martinez, who reached on a double down the left-field line.

After David Robertson relieved Sabathia, Beltre promptly singled up the middle to allow Youkilis to score and tie the game at 5.

New York took the lead back in the seventh against Red Sox relievers Ramon Ramirez and Hideki Okajima. Mark Teixeira drew a leadoff walk against Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez doubled high off the Monster. Cano’s groundout against Okajima sent Teixeira home, and Posada singled up the middle to score Rodriguez for a 7-5 edge that Pedroia would soon negate.

Youkilis went 3-for-4 with two runs batted in, while Pedroia was 2-for-4. Cameron and Scutaro each were 2-for-3 in their Red Sox debuts. Beckett lasted 4 2-3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits with three walks and a strikeout. Okajima (1-0) was credited with the win, allowing one hit and a walk over one inning. Papelbon recorded his first save.

Posada was 3-for-4 with two RBI to lead New York. Gardner went 2-for-4, and Jeter and Cano each had 2-for-5 nights. Sabathia worked 5 1-3 frames and yielded five runs on six hits, with two walks and four punchouts. Park (0-1) took the loss, giving up three runs, two earned, on three hits while recording two outs.

NOTES: New York had won nine of 10 in the series. … This was the first night opener in the history of Fenway Park, which opened in 1912. … Sabathia was making his seventh Opening Day start, while Beckett worked his fifth lidlifter. … The series resumes Tuesday night, with Boston’s Jon Lester set to oppose the Yankees’ A.J. Burnett.


Video credit – ESPN2

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hayward, Butler down Spartans, one win from title


A 10 ½-minute field-goal drought couldn’t derail the hometown Butler Bulldogs on their way to the national title game.

Gordon Hayward scored two of his game-high 19 points to break an extended scoring drought with 1:36 to go, helping lead No. 5 seed Butler to a 52-50 win over Michigan State in the Final Four in Indianapolis Saturday night.

The Bulldogs (33-4), the hometown favorite making their first Final Four appearance, will again travel the 5.7 miles from the Butler campus to Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday night to take on the winner of Saturday night’s West Virginia – Duke matchup. This time, they’ll have a shot at the national championship.

To get there, the Bulldogs first had to survive a dreadful cold spell – shooting just 24 percent in the second half and 30.6 percent for the game. But Butler hit 70.4 percent of its free throws, while the fifth-seeded Spartans converted only 55.6 percent of its shots from the charity stripe.

Michigan State’s Korie Lucious sank a 3-pointer to begin the second half and put the Spartans (28-9) up 31-28. But from there, Butler went on a 10-2 run to take a lead that would hold up for good. Hayward made a pair at the line, Willie Veasley and Shelvin Mack made layups, Ronald Nored nailed two free throws and Matt Howard scored down low to hand the Bulldogs a 38-33 edge with 15 minutes remaining.

Durrell Summers finished off an alley-oop from Lucious to bring the Spartans to within 39-37 before the Bulldogs picked up their biggest lead, reeling off five straight points. Avery Jukes came up with an offensive rebound and putback, Hayward made a free throw and Veasley converted a steal into a slam for a 44-37 advantage.

But from there, Michigan State, making a return trip to the Final Four after reaching the title game in Detroit last season, held Butler without a field goal for the next 10 ½ minutes and outscored the Bulldogs 9-4 during that stretch to climb to within two. Delvon Roe and Summers each made a layup, Raymar Morgan put back his own miss and Draymond Green hit a free throw and scored down low – all while Howard, Hayward and Shawn Vanzant combined for four free throws – to cut Butler’s edge to 48-46 with 2:09 to go.

Hayward and Butler finally broke through on their next possession. Hayward missed a 3 – Butler’s 12th straight missed field goal – but Vanzant saved the ball in-bounds right back to Hayward, who laid it in with 1:36 left.

Michigan State came back to within one the next time down the court, after Summers sank a free throw, Roe rebounded his miss on his second try, and Green canned two from the line.

But the Spartans could get no closer. Green missed a contested shot in the line with 7 seconds left. Then, down three after two Nored free throws, Lucious made his first and missed his second of two free throws intentionally with 2 ticks remaining, but Hayward pulled down the rebound as time expired.

At the game’s outset, Lucious sank back-to-back 3s for an early Michigan State lead, but Hayward answered with two straight triples of his own. Butler scored the last five points of the half, as Veasley connected on two free throws and, after a Vanzant steal, Mack drained a trey with 38 seconds left in the half to tie the score at 28.

Mack added 14 points to Butler’s cause. Summers put up a double-double for Michigan State, scoring 14 points with 10 boards. Lucious and Green each contributed 12 points.

NOTES: Butler has won 25 straight contests. The Bulldogs haven’t lost since falling 67-57 at UAB Dec. 22. … The Spartans were making their nation-high sixth Final Four appearance in the last 12 seasons. They lost to North Carolina 89-72 in the championship game last year. … Butler is making the first-ever Final Four for a Horizon League team. It already holds the records for most wins in school history and for a Horizon League squad. … The Bulldogs have won eight of their last 10 against Big Ten teams, including a 3-1 mark this year. … Michigan State had never lost a tournament game in Indianapolis, including winning the 2000 national title. The Spartans fall to 7-1 in the city. … Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas, who ruptured his left Achilles tendon in the Spartans’ second-round win over Maryland, again watched from the bench in street clothes. … The Spartans lost for just the second time in nine games.


Video credit – CBS