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Sunday January 23, 2000Florida Baseball Completes Sweep with 8-7 Win

Honolulu, HI

Senior Kurt Keene’s eighth inning double helped No. 18 Florida to an 8-7 victory over Hawaii to complete the three-game sweep over the Rainbows in the season-opening series at Rainbow Stadium. Florida improved to 3-0 on the season, winning its first three road games for the first time since the 1953 season. Hawaii dropped to 0-3.

“I am real proud of the way we played tonight,” said Head Coach Andy Lopez. “We got some good pitching performances in key situations. It was a great way to start the season.”

After winning the opening two games of the series in big fashion, Florida struggled to claim the final game of the series. The Rainbows, who had never lost their first two games at home in any season, took a one-run lead into the eighth before Florida’s come-from-behind effort to take the series finale.

For the third staight game, Florida jumped out on the Rainbows 1-0, 3-1 and 5-3 with UH fighting back each time against a Florida pitching staff that had held them in check over the first two games.

Sophomore Mark Kiger returned to the lineup after sitting out Friday’s game with a sprained finger, knocking in UF’s first run with a third inning single. Freshman Ryan Raburn plated two additional runs in the fourth with a double. Hawaii responded each time against Florida starter Craig Mosher, who allowed four runs over 3.1 innings in his first career start.

With the game tied at 3 in the fifth, junior Tim Olson belted a two-run home run to give the Gators a two-run advantage that looked like it might hold based on the performance of the UF bullpen in the first two games. But, Hawaii pinch hitter Shane Chase lined a Stuart McFarland pitch to right field in the seventh that should have been the final out of the inning.

Jason Dill, who walked four times in the game, lost the ball in the stadium lights as Chase rounded the bases for an inside the park home run as the ball rolled to the fence. Hawaii led 6-5, trying to avoid the sweep.

After a Pete Nystrom reached on an error to start the eighth inning, Brian Rose and Raburn followed with singles to tie the game at 6. After Kiger lined out, Keene then doubled down the right field line to give the Gators a 8-6 lead that proved enough the claim the win.

Freshman closer Joey Simon held Hawaii to just a single run over two innings for the save, including a 1-2-3 ninth as Florida prevailed with the come-from-behind victory.

Raburn finished 3-for-4 on the night with three RBI to lead the Florida attack. McFarland, who allowed the three runs in the seventh including the inside the park home run, benefitted from the comeback effort to get his first win in the season. Hawaii’s Jamie Aloy (0-1) was the loser.

Florida will be off from competition this week before hosting its Alumni Game on Saturday, January 29. The Gators return to action in Miami in two weeks against the Hurricanes at Mark Light Stadium.
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