FAYETTEVILLE – Austin Maddox threw 3.1 shutout innings in relief, while Nolan Fontana homered and had two hits as No. 5 Florida salvaged the series finale against Arkansas with a 5-3 win on Saturday night at Baum Stadium in front of 9,603 fans.
Despite the loss on Saturday, the Razorbacks took two of three games from the fifth-ranked Gators. Arkansas is now 32-15 overall and 12-12 in the Southeastern Conference, while Florida is 36-12 and 18-6 in league play.
Another large crowd came to see Arkansas play on Saturday night at Baum Stadium. The attendance of 9,603 was the ninth-largest crowd in stadium history. Four of the top nine actual attendances in Baum Stadium history have come during the 2011 season.
Maddox earned the win on the mound for Florida to improve to 2-0 on the season. Maddox tossed 3.1 hitless innings, only allowing one walk and striking out one.
Arkansas reliever Nolan Sanburn took the loss to drop to 2-4 on the year. Sanburn gave up three runs on five hits with four strikeouts in his two innings of work.
Each starter received a no decision. Arkansas starter Cade Lynch gave up a run and struck out two in four innings, while Florida starter Karsten Whitson allowed three runs on six hits and struck out six in 5.2 innings.
Bo Bigham and Tim Carver each turned in multi-hit performances to lead the Razorbacks offensively. Bigham was 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Carver went 2-for-3 with a run. Matt Reynolds blasted his third home run of the season , and Dominic Ficociello drove in two runs to bring his season RBI total to a team-leading 43.
Fontana had two hits, including a homer and scored twice for Florida. Daniel Pigott also added two hits and two RBI in the win.
The Gators grabbed the lead with a run in the top of the second. Pigott singled with one out and then stole second base. A base hit to right-center field by Maddox scored Pigott.
Florida added another run in the top of the fifth. With one out, Fontana hit a 2-2 pitch over the right field fence for his second home run of the season.
Arkansas got a run back in the bottom of the fifth when Reynolds belted a two-out solo home run down the left field line and just inside the foul pole. The homer was the third of the year for Reynolds and the first allowed by Whitson in 2011, a span of 62.2 innings.
The Razorbacks took their first lead of the game with two runs in the sixth. Carver reached on a one-out infield single and then moved to second on a base hit to left field by Bigham. A wild pitch allowed each runner to move up a base. After a strike out of Collin Kuhn, Ficociello stroked a double to the left-center field alley, bringing home both runners to put Arkansas on top 3-2.
The lead was short lived as Florida answered with three in the top of the seventh. Fontana singled to center to start the inning and then advanced to third on a base hit by Mike Zunino. Preston Tucker tied the game with a single to left field, scoring Fontana and moving Zunino to second base. A sacrifice bunt by Josh Adams advanced each runner into scoring position. Pigott drove in the both runners with a single to center field.
Arkansas was only able to manage two base runners over the final three innings, both on fielding errors by the Gator infield.
Arkansas is back in action next Friday when it opens a three-game series at No. 2 South Carolina. First pitch against the Gamecocks is set for 7 p.m. on Friday, 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. All three games of the series will be televised. ESPNU will have Friday’s game, SportSouth will televise Saturday’s contest and CST will have the broadcast for Sunday’s series finale.