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Friday February 25, 2011Baseball's hidden-ball trick never works, right? Don't tell that to top-ranked Gators

Updated: 10:01pm, February 25

Boston College shortstop Brad Zapenas stood on third after his two-run triple off Gators freshman reliever Daniel Gibson tied Friday night’s game 3-3 in the seventh inning.

For the first time all season, the No. 1-ranked Gators faced some late-game tension.

And then one of the oldest tricks in baseball actually worked for a change. Yep, the Gators pulled off the hidden-ball trick.

Freshman third baseman Zach Powers held the ball as Gibson acted as if he were preparing to face the next batter, Eagles designated hitter Matt Watson. As soon as Zapenas stepped off the bag, Powers applied the tag for the final out of the inning.

The Gators answered by scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh on the way to a 9-3 victory. Florida is off to the first 6-0 start in head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s four seasons.

But let’s get back to that hidden-ball trick. The play that hardly ever works even has its own entry on Wikipedia.com.

O’Sullivan started grinning when he talked about the play after the game.

“They do it all the time in practice,’’ he said. “The impressive thing was [it was] two freshmen. You had Gibson on the mound and Powers and they pulled it off. I’m sure it will be on everybody’s scouting report now.

“It’s not going to happen very often.”

Florida starting pitcher Hudson Randall, his night’s work finished after five stellar innings, watched from the dugout. When the play worked, Randall said the game changed in an instant.

“This is the first time I’ve seen it work in a game,’’ Randall said. “We were all stoked. We took all the momentum back. They were dead in their shoes after that.’’

Reliever Tommy Toledo was in the bullpen when the play happened. It’s something he’ll remember for a long time considering he’s never actually seen it work.

“That definitely changed the momentum of the game,’’ Toledo said. “They had just scored a couple of runs and once that happened, we got all pumped up and scored another three runs. We were all going nuts.’’

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